Growing up, my mom made a dish called chili mac. Now, no disrespect to my mother, but when I say "made" I mean that she opened two cans of Hormel Chili and mixed it in with some cooked macaroni noodles. Don't get me wrong, it was super tasty, and I didn't know that you could make it from scratch. It never occurred to me. At least not until I had to start cooking for myself and my very patient husband. (We ate a LOT of Hamburger Helper back then.)
So today I thought I'd share my homemade version of mom's favorite quick meal.
It all started with this cookbook (I am a sucker for cookbooks):
It was one of those "by the register" things and I picked it up a long time ago. Inside was a very basic recipe for chili mac. We tried it and loved it and over the last couple of years I've changed it up a bit to make a chunkier heartier meal.
Here's the recipe:
|Not pictured: Cayenne (Bad blogger!)|
1 jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
Half to 1 whole bell pepper diced
1. Brown your ground beef and drain the fat (if necessary).
2. Add in the onion and bell pepper and cook until just tender.
3. Add in the Ragu. (Did you know that the main ingredients in chili and spaghetti sauce are the same? They are! The only thing missing from the Ragu is the chili spice.)
4. Add in the canned tomatoes.
5. Using a cupped palm, add a heaping palm full of chili powder and stir it in. (If you're hesitant to put in that much at a time, use a half palm full and add more to taste.)
6. Add cayenne to taste. (I use my palm to "measure" out about a couple of teaspoons of cayenne, but it's potent. Taste as you go.)
Stir your chili well and pop on a pot lid. Bring it to a boil and then drop the heat to simmer.
The best part of this recipe is that you can let it simmer as long or as short as you'd like. I literally pop on a lid, boil some water for the macaroni and let it simmer away while I wait the 7 minutes for the macaroni to cook. You can have this meal on the table in under half an hour OR you can make it in a slow cooker and let it go all day. It gets better with age.
When your macaroni is done cooking, you just drain it and mix it in with your chili and you're done! We like to top it with shredded cheddar and raw onion.
A couple of variations -
It's great with some kidney beans added to it for more fiber and texture. It's also really good by itself or with some crusty bread.
I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think!