My favorite dishes are the ones that are inspired by the people I love. My sister just came to visit from Maine and we had a lovely time churning out delicious food from my small kitchen. It brought to mind a memory of making late night nachos with my sister and how amazing they tasted (granted, we’d been drinking sparkling wine most of the evening, so pretty much anything was going to hit the spot). Those nachos and my fabulous foodie sister inspired this semi-fusion dish. Why combine Chili with Mac & Cheese? Creamy cheese sauce is perfect in combination with spicy chili. Starchy, earthy beans are just marvelous with pasta as well. I served it with an avocado, cilantro and greens salad tossed in a garlic-y dressing. I recommend garnishing each serving with crushed tortilla chips.
Chili Mac n Cheese
15 ounces chili*
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
12 ounces elbow macaroni
3 cups milk
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, then cook according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, make your roux: sift together flour, mustard powder and cayenne. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook over medium-low flame, whisking almost constantly, until the mixture turns golden and the flour no longer smells raw. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until you’ve incorporated a half cup of milk with no lumps. Then you can add the rest of the milk at a more steady pace.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season roux and milk mix with pepper and salt and bring it to a point just before boiling. Turn off heat. Add 3/4 of the cheese and mix until melted.
4. In a greased, 9 x 9” baking dish, combine pasta and cheese sauce, then stir in chili. Top with remaining cheese and heat 10 to 15 minutes, or until chili is heated through and cheese has become melty.
Serve hot garnished with crushed tortilla chips and accompanied by a salad.
*I used Annie's medium chilli to make things easier, but if you'd like to use homemade I suggest my beef and bean chili.