If I’m being completely honest here, I have to admit I haven’t eaten chili mac in years. Years. And if I’m being even more honest, I’ll admit that the memories of chili mac remind me of really bad Hamburger Helper, which subsequently causes me to break out in an itchy rash. I’ve just never been a huge fan. I’m sorry chili mac. (And I’m really sorry Hamburger Helper.)
So what prompted me to make this version of chili mac, I’m not sure. Probably the fact that I have a thing for skillet meals (i.e. Sausage and Spinach Penne, Skillet Lasagna, Chicken and Rice with Coconut Milk and Pistachios, Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, Skillet Chicken with Broccoli and Parmesan, Ham and Pasta Skillet Dinner) and I needed a fast, ingredients-on-hand dinner last week.
Am I ever glad I gave chili mac another chance. My love has been rekindled in a big way.
This meal could easily be classified as one of my top 10 ground beef meals. Fantastic. The flavors are delicious – mildly sweet with just a hint of warmth and spice (not spicy enough for my kids to be bothered – they ate it up like crazy). And what’s not to love about noodles simmered in a sweet and spicy tomato broth and smothered in cheese?
Chili mac has to be pretty incredible for me to want to make it again. Not only could I not wait to eat the leftovers from this meal but I already have planned to make this again next week. Less than 30 minutes from start to finish and delicious to boot, chili mac is back!
Note: If you want a traditional chili mac, omit the corn, chiles and cilantro.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef or lean ground turkey
- 1 onion, minced
- 3/4 tablespoon chili powder (add more if you want more heat)
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (substitute ground cumin for a smokier flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
- 2 cups water
- 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and monterey jack but you can use pepper jack or a mexican shredded cheese blend)
- Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat or grease (the amount will depend on how lean your beef is). Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12-12 minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.
Recipe Source: adapted from The 30-Minute Best Recipe