Monday, April 29, 2013

Skillet Chili Mac

Skillet Chili Mac - a quick skillet meal of ground beef, tomatoes, chili seasonings, beans, cheese and medium shell pasta.
Skillet Chili Mac - a quick skillet meal of ground beef, tomatoes, chili seasonings, beans, cheese and medium shell pasta.

Skillet Chili Mac

It's been a crazy couple of months around here. I won't go into details about it because it's mostly stuff that isn't all that interesting or appropriate for a food blog, but suffice it to say that there have been challenges... doctors, female issues, a health scare, and yes, even surgery, technically two, and probably another one coming. It's been a little stressful. And that's not even counting all the copyright violations with this new viral epidemic of out of control Facebook recipe pages, that clip and re-post content from blogger's sites, like mine. Whew!

Besides living a real life outside of the posts here on Deep South Dish, and all the chatter on the Facebook page, I also wrote a column for a bi-monthly print magazine called Eat. Drink. MISSISSIPPI. It's a small, fairly new magazine, about Mississippi food - restaurant reviews and recipes, foodie places and food writers, and bloggers, like me! I was approached by the publisher pre-launch, and it's been a fun gig, though I recently let it go to focus on my blog and grands. I loved that I could always be authentic, because my publisher doesn't make me conform to what she thinks my style ought to be, or to fit in with the style of the magazine. Heck, she didn't even require me to follow a theme.

Some of the featured recipes from my column!
There's no fancy photo shoot or food stylists, no people stylists or food photographers - no fanfare whatsoever. Just me writing a column just like I do here, that features a recipe or three that were written, cooked and photographed by me, myself and I, and not a bunch of professionals. So, it's not fancy, but you will recognize it as my work - my creations, my recipes, my writing, just as you have always seen it right here. I'm sure that whoever takes up the space will carry on with everything! Being able to contribute to that magazine sort of brought me back to what my first choice in career was supposed to be - journalism.

I made that decision way back in junior high school, and spent the entire summer of my 8th grade year preparing to qualify for a very limited admissions to get me that coveted spot in the journalism class. To my delight, I was accepted, only to be derailed by something called desegregation of our school systems, and a forced busing of students to different schools all across Biloxi, that ripped me out of my school in my graduating year, and transferred me to another school across town. One that did not have a journalism program. My young mind had no idea what all that desegregation business was about at the time, but I did know that I had worked all summer for something that was unfairly stripped away from me by a bunch of adults who seemingly had no concern about my interests.

All of that to say, with all that's been going on, you may have noticed a slow down here at the website because writing, which generally comes quite easy to me, has been hampered. I even had a bit of writer's block on my column this time. Jumbled thoughts occupied my mind instead of cohesive sentences, but, thankfully it all ended up coming together and finally got submitted. It's just been a rough couple of months y'all.

This chili mac, one pot supper, is just the kind of meal that fits right into craziness like these months. It's easy to make, pretty hearty for a meat loving fella like mine and tastes really good. Like regular chili, it's fairly heavy in chili powder, so if you're not accustomed to using that much, as always, start with a little, taste, and then adjust. Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Skillet Chili Mac

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 40 min

Total time: 1 hour 40 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1-1/2 cups of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper
  • 1 or 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pound of raw breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons of chili powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 (7 ounce) can green chilies
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups of dry medium cut pasta (like elbow macaroni or shells)
  • 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, divided, or to taste, plus more for garnish
  • Optional Garnishes: Sliced green onions, fresh diced tomatoes, sour cream or your other favorite chili toppings

Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet over medium high heat; add the onion and peppers, and cook for about 4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. To that, add the ground beef, sausage and garlic, breaking up the meat and cooking, until no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasonings.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and green chilies; stir. Add the water, beans, pasta and half of the cheese. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is cooked through; uncover, stir and let simmer, uncovered, until reduced to desired consistency. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, cover and cook over low until cheese melts. Garnish with sliced green onions, fresh diced tomatoes, sour cream or your other favorite chili toppings.

Cook's Notes: The mix of ground beef and breakfast sausage is key for this recipe. While you may make substitutes, I would encourage you to prepare the recipe as is first, so you have a baseline.

I was conservative with the cheese here using one cup - feel free to increase that as you like. May also substitute 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice for the pasta. I used one tablespoon of chipotle chili powder with 1-1/2 tablespoons of regular chili powder; with that as written, this chili is quite fiery. I also used Hunt's fire roasted tomatoes, using my kitchen shears to break them up smaller. You may also substitute 1 (10-ounce) can Chili Fixin's or diced tomatoes with green chilies (like mild or original Rotel) for the regular diced, but be mindful of the other heat elements that you use in the recipe. For more juice, add in additional tomatoes and/or sauce; to transform to a soup, add beef broth to desired consistency.

Instant Pot: Prepare as above, except increase water to 2-1/2 cups, or may substitute beef broth and do not stir in cheese before cooking. Set for high, 6 minutes and when done, quick release, add half of the cheese, stir in, top with remaining cheese and seal pot until cheese melts.

Mexican Skillet Mac: Reduce chili powder to 1/2 tablespoon and add in one packet of taco seasoning, or equivalent homemade seasoning blend. Substitute 2 cups of homemade or commercial salsa for the diced tomatoes and one can of black beans or other canned beans, drained and rinsed well, for the pinto beans, if desired. Garnish finished skillet with diced avocado and cilantro.

Chili Cornbread Casserole Variation: Prepare chili as above in a deep, oven safe skillet, except omit the pasta and water. Cook on stovetop for 20 minutes covered. Meanwhile, mix one (approx. 8 ounce) cornbread mix according to package directions and using a knife, spread batter to within about a half inch of skillet edges. Transfer to a preheated 375 degree F oven and bake, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until cornbread topping is golden brown.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Crockpot Beef Chili with Beans
Beef and Bean Burritos
Easy White Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

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