Chili-Mac-Cheese Casserole

690-ChiliMacThis is comfort food.

Nothing exciting to see here.

Just plain old good gruel as my husband would say.

You make it in the morning. Let it sit. Toss it in the oven until it’s hot.

No doubt if you half this recipe or have a really big crock pot, you could do it that way.

But it’s fast and easy.

And I said it was good.

So when the kids are cranky, this is what you fix them.


  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2-3 hot chiles of any kind you like chopped finely
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, microplaned (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh ground chuck
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes packed in juice or diced, roughly chopped,
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, or any kind you like, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (like Frank’s)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 /2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 pound grated Cheddar or Jack cheese
  • 4 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves or scallion greens for garnish


  1. Saute your onions and peppers in a large skillet until softened and the onion translucent.
  2. Add your spices and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the beef and break up stirring occasionally until the meat is mostly browned.
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans and hot sauce. Stir well and cover and let lightly simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Place the macaroni in water and place over high heat until it starts to boil. Turn off and let it sit until it is al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta and add the milk and cheeses. Mix until the cheeses have melted and all is creamy.
  7. Add the meat mixture to the macaroni and cheese and stir until mixed.
  8. Place all in a casserole and heat at 350° until heated and bubbly.
  9. Strew the top with additional cheese, scallions and cilantro if desired.


NOTES: This is just a framework. Your own chile recipe can stand as your framework if you wish. This is not very hot and so you can spice it up considerably. Add things like corn for instance or use cubed meat instead of the hamburger.  This method for cooking the macaroni is unusual but works fine. I have read analysis that suggests that putting pasta in cold water changes nothing in the taste or time so it’s just easier this way, and shutting off the heat after it comes to a boil just means you don’t have to worry about boil overs when you are busy with other parts of the meal.

SOURCE: Adapted from Serious Eats

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