ina’s mac & cheese turned into chili mac

I don’t want to say I one-upped Ina, can you imagine the uprising? So, what I will say is that I made this recipe a little more “Annie.” I switched up her recipe just a smidge – who can afford 12 oz of Gruyere (!?) and added some of my favorite things like roasted pablano peppers, good old ground beef, tomatoes with green chilies, and some spices to kick things up. This is one of Sir Dave’s favorites and was requested very adamantly – so I’m pretty sure it’s a winner! Ina, you’re welcome to come over any time for a taste test. 😉

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Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1.25 pound ground beef
1 roasted, skinned, and diced pablano pepper
1 quart milk (I used 2%, but you can use whole as well)
6 tbs butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
10 oz shredded swiss
10 oz shredded cheddar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp salt (I added additional, but I’m crazy for salt, so taste as you go!)
1 1/2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
sliced green onions for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Get a large pot of salted water boiling – I toss in about a tablespoon of salt with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the pasta and cook until package directions say it will be al-dente; it should have a bite to it.

Meanwhile brown the ground beef, drain and set aside.

Roast the pablano pepper. I do it over the open flame on my gas stove, holding with tongs and turning until blackened, then quickly place in a plastic bag for five minutes to steam so the skin is easier to remove. You can also roast in the oven at 425 for 30-45 minutes until charred. Once the pepper is roasted slice it open, lay flat and remove the skin and chop. Set aside.

Next up the cheese sauce! Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt six tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for two minutes, stirring with a whisk. Then add the warm milk and continue whisking and cooking for another three minutes, until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the swiss and cheddar cheeses, the salt and pepper, and the spices and red pepper flakes. Stir well.

Add the cooked noodles, the ground beef, the can of tomatoes with green chilies (drained) and the chopped pablano pepper to the cheese sauce and mix well. Put this chili mac in a casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with sliced green onions, eat and be happy! 🙂

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