Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2: Smoky Chipotle Chili Con Queso Mac

  Coarse salt
1 pound penne rigate or cavatappi
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds ground beef sirloin
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
   Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 ½ cups smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
4 scallions, chopped, for garnish

Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked - a little chewy at the center.

While the water is coming up to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Add the beef to the hot skillet.

Season the beef with cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until lightly brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos and continue to cook for 5 minutes. While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the Cheddar sauce.

In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, and parsley with a wooden spoon.

Stir the tomatoes into the cheese sauce once the cheese has melted. Season with a little salt and pepper and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot, add the contents of the skillet and all of the cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.

Transfer to a baking dish and place under the broiler to lightly brown.

Garnish bowlfuls of chili con queso mac with chopped scallions.


This is the variation of the southwestern pasta bake. Again, it would have benefited from some cilantro, but it really was much better than yesterday's. The tomato added a lot to keep it from being so "stodgy." The beef tasted much better than the chicken. And I added more cheese to the top to melt under the broiler. My family really liked that part. I didn't have any scallions, as well as parsley or cilantro, so I left them out.

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