chili mac & cheese

jason keeps asking me to make "normal" food. i'm not quite sure what that means, exactly (unless he really does mean 1950s food...hmmm...), but when i saw this recipe posted when poking around the internet, i knew it would be a winner.

how can you combine meat, cheese, and pasta and not win?

but there just wasn't enough heat. surprisingly, not enough spice. next time i'm going to double the cumin & chili powder, maybe amp up the pepper jack, and maybe, just maybe, i really shouldn't have omitted the jalapeno from the original recipe.

a couple other tips -
  • start the water boiling for the mac when you're prepping for the chili. i started the water later, when i added the turk to the pan, and the chili was done way before the mac. i should have timed it better.
  • i didn't let the milk cook long enough to thicken before i added the cheese, so the mac & cheese was pretty runny - not enough to really be bad, but enough to want it thicker. next time, i'm going to wait a bit longer.
and if you think this is good the day you make it, just wait until leftovers the next day. the flavors meld together and it isn't as wet. perfect.

chili mac & cheese
adapted from life's ambrosia

30 minutes start to finish, 4 hearty servings

for the chili:
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, strained (without the juice)
14.5 ounces kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

for the mac & cheese:
2 cups dried macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups 2% or whole (or a mix) milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded colby jack
1/2 cup pepper jack

  1. bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.
  2. in a skillet, cook the turkey, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and garlic powder until meat is brown. remove meat from the pan.
  3. in the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium and cook onions and garlic. cook until onions start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. add meat back to the pan.
  4. stir in tomatoes and beans. add remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and hot sauce.
  5. reduce heat to low and simmer while you finish the mac & cheese. if the chili seems dry, add a little water until it's not soaked, but not dry.
  6. for the mac & cheese, strain the mac when it's done cooking. put the pan back on medium heat and melt the butter.
  7. whisk in the flour for one minute. slowly whisk in the milk and cook for one minute.
  8. add the cheeses, season with salt & pepper, and mix until melted.
  9. return mac to the pan and stir until evenly coated.
  10. remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  11. mix the chili into the mac and cheese until well incorporated.

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