A hearty, comforting mashup meal!
This recipe got a resounding thumbs up from my taste testers, who declared it to be the perfect mashup dish. Combining hearty chili with comforting homemade mac and cheese is not only delicious, but also a great way to stretch smaller amounts of ingredients – how else could one can of chili feed six people? Of note, you can easily use meatless chili like this yummy one to make this a vegetarian dish. Make ahead tips: it’s best to prepare and refrigerate the components then assemble just before baking, lest the pasta get soggy and the sauce too dry. Prepare and refrigerate the cheese sauce up to 48 hours ahead, ditto for the pasta (don’t add to the sauce) and the breadcrumb topping. When ready to assemble, warm the cheese sauce and proceed with assembly steps below.
- 2 cups (500 mL) small pasta (macaroni or shells are great)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (500 mL) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked or regular paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups (500 mL) grated cheddar (I like to use extra old white)
- 2 cups (500 mL) chili *
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh breadcrumbs or Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) or butter, melted
* most cans of chili are 15 oz / 425 g which is very close to 2 cups.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook noodles in a medium pot of salted, boiling water until just tender.
- While noodles are cooking, make cheese sauce. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in milk, paprika and a dash of salt & pepper.
- Simmer, stirring often, for 4 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the grated cheese until blended, then let simmer on low for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Prepare topping in a small bowl by combining breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside.
- Add the drained macaroni to the sauce, stirring to mix well. Pour half the noodle mixture into a greased 8 inch (20 cm) square casserole dish (or six 1.5 cup/375 mL oven-safe dishes), then spread the chili over top.
- Top with remaining noodle and sauce mixture, then sprinkle prepared breadcrumbs evenly over top.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.