Monday, October 5, 2009

Chili-Mac: Perfect Sunday Football Fare

A few weeks ago, my son got the itch for cooking. His sisters had been watching Jon and Kate plus 8...again...and in that episode, Emeril came for a visit. He made this Chili-Mac and I think it made him hungry for it. The boy is always hungry! We Googled the recipe, got all the ingredients at the store and together we made it for dinner. Everyone, including our picky Annie, liked it. Ok, she ate only the noodles, but I'll gladly settle for that from her. After tasting it I thought that this would be the perfect make-ahead recipe for a tailgate or Sunday Football game. Before we went to New Jersey, I made this recipe and instead of baking it, I refrigerated it and took it with us. We baked it at the beach and it fed all 16 of us with couple of servings leftover. If you don't have a crowd, you can always freeze the leftovers or cut the recipe in half.

from Emeril Lagasse

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium onions small diced, about 3 cups
2 jalapenos, stemmed and minced, optional
1 tablespoon salt, plus more for pasta cooking water
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
5 tablespoons Mexican chili powder (I used about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (28 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, broken with your hands, with juices
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 pound medium cheddar cheese (I used a little less)
Sour cream for serving, if desired

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 6-quart soup pot. Add onions, jalapenos (if desired), and 2 teaspoons of the salt and cook until soft, 2 minutes. Add ground beef, chili powder, oregano, and garlic and cook, breaking up any clumps of meat with a spoon, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, and ½ cup of water, stir, and bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened to chili consistency, about 20 minutes. Taste and add 1 more teaspoon salt, if needed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While the chili is simmering, cook macaroni according to package directions in boiling salted water, drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water and set aside. Grate cheddar cheese and set aside.
Place a 9 x 13.5-inch or other 3-quart casserole dish on a baking sheet. Once chili has finished cooking, fold in the cooked macaroni and 1/3 of the cheddar cheese. Transfer chili-mac to the baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve each portion garnished with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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