Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chili Mac

Editors’ Choice Cookbook Collection. From Cover and Bake.

Serves 6 to 8.

Reserve some of the pasta-cooking water so that it can be used to thin out the chili as needed. Ground turkey (1½ pounds) can be substituted for the ground beef. If you can’t find Co-Jack cheese, just substitute equal amounts of colby and Jack cheese instead.

PLANNING AHEAD: Follow the recipe through step 4, but do not sprinkle with cheese or bake. Wrap the chili mac tightly with plastic wrap and poke several vent holes with the tip of a paring knife. Refrigerate until cool, about 3 hours, then wrap it tightly with another sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. This dish can also be frozen, tightly covered with foil, for two months. Thaw for 24 hours hours in the refrigerator before baking.

TO BAKE: Allow the covered dish to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle with cheese, and cover tightly with foil. Remove the foil and continue to cook until cheese begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


1/2pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked pasta)
3tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2medium onions , chopped medium
1red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and chopped medium
6medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press
2tablespoons chili powder
1tablespoon ground cumin
1(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1(28-ounce) can tomato puree
1tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
8ounces Colby Jack (Co-Jack) cheese , shredded (about 2 2/3 cups)


  1. 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the macaroni; cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and set aside.

  2. 2. Wipe the Dutch oven dry. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink and beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the beef through a colander, discarding the drippings, and set it aside.

  3. 3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the Dutch oven and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, red pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, brown sugar, the reserved pasta water, and the drained beef; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes.

  4. 4. Stir in the cooked pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (or a shallow casserole dish of similar size) and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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