Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chili (mac)


We have been cooking for Community Cooks for over a year now. It's a wonderful local organization of people who cook homemade meals for neighbors in need. Check out their website for info or to volunteer: http://communitycooks.org/.

Every month we are given a main course to make for 15 to 20 people. We are, by nature, throw-it-in-the-pot-and-see-what-happens sort of cooks, so when we are given a specific dish to make we see it as a challenge. This month it was chili mac, something neither one of us had ever heard of before. Through a bit of research  we learned that traditionally you add Hormel chili to Kraft Mac and Cheese. We decided to amp it up, add in local beef and onions from the farmers' market, beans from Sherman Market, and a jalapeno frozen from last year's CSA, and we were off! 

To make a straight chili, follow through the simmering for 30 minutes and then serve with rice, cilantro, grated cheese, diced onions, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

This recipe makes a large pot of chili (enough to feed 8) or a whopping amount of chili mac.

1 1/2 lb dried kidney beans
2 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. chile powder
2 red peppers, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced (add seeds for more heat)
56 oz. diced tomatoes, with juice
14 oz. crushed tomatoes
15 oz. grated cheese
16 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 lbs. elbow macaroni

Soak beans overnight in water, adding more water as needed as beans soak it up.

The next day, drain the beans and put in a pot, covered with clean water. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce to a simmer, and cook ~ 2 hours until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in olive oil until translucent, ~ 5 minutes. Add in ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until browned.

Add in spices and stir.

Add in red peppers, jalapeno, tomatoes, and beans. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni. 

Add in cheese, sour cream, and macaroni and stir well. Serve.