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What to Do With Leftover Chili

May 4, 2009


I have to say, this is my absolute favorite way to eat chili. I get more excited for the leftovers than I do for the chili itself.

CHILI MAC! Something about the texture of the pasta all baked together with the spicy chili and a cheesy topping…oh. I’m reheating some in the oven right now, as I write this, and it smells delectable. I can’t wait.

Even though chili mac’s reputation is that of either unhealthy diner chow or preschooler food from a box, using a fiber-rich chili like mine and some whole-grain pasta make this a balanced meal requiring nothing more than a vegetable side, and the assertive flavors of chipotle, sharp cheddar, and scallions elevate it far beyond the blue-box fare.

All you’ve got to do is take half a recipe’s worth of this chili, mix it with about ¾ of a pound of short pasta (cooked, of course), adding in a little bit of the pasta’s cooking water if the chili has become a little bit thick and dry in the refrigerator—I used about a half cup of water—plunk it into a casserole dish, grate some sharp cheddar cheese over the top, toss a handful of minced scallions over that, and stick it in the oven at 400 until the cheese is melted and bubbling. If you want to, and I always want to, crank up the oven to broil just at the end so the cheese browns a bit.

If you make this for a special person, that person might just fall in love with you. Or promise to do your bidding forever. Watch out: chili mac is a powerful thing.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcia permalink
    May 4, 2009 1:01 pm

    This sounds so good! But cheddar is hard to get where I am… any ideas of another (spicy) cheese that might do the trick?

    • secretnatasha permalink*
      May 4, 2009 1:35 pm

      But you’re right next to England! Ha ha. Can you get Cantal? That’s supposed to be the French cheese that’s the closest to cheddar. Any sharp cheese that’s firm but not too crumbly and hard should work fine.

  2. lailablogs permalink
    May 4, 2009 3:47 pm

    sounds and looks delicious .. great idea .. Laila ..

  3. Marcia permalink
    May 4, 2009 9:46 pm

    I know, it’s ridiculous! But then again, I can call over 50 different countries for free with my service provider, but calling the UK costs a kidney on the black market. The English channel is filled with hostilities.

    I’m going to try this VERY soon. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. May 5, 2009 6:54 pm

    I have a pot of chili on the stove for dinner tonight and didn’t know what I was going to do with the leftovers…now I know! And I’m in France, so cheddar costs more than life is worth over here, so thanks for the alternative cheese suggestion. 🙂 I usually use Mimolette, but it can get a little rubbery when melted…

  5. May 5, 2009 7:02 pm

    Great idea! For some reason, I never thought of making chili mac at home. This looks delicious.

  6. May 5, 2009 10:04 pm

    okay this is a new must make for me. I am making mac n cheese tonight and I wish I had chili so I could change it up and make this instead. Mac n cheese is my daughter’s favorite meal! I make it a lot…I also make my own chili a lot b/c I love it. 2 mix the 2. WOW…u made up a great sounding & looking dish… 🙂 thanks!

  7. May 5, 2009 10:56 pm

    Oh my. That is stick-to-your-ribs comfort at its finest.

  8. wimbittworld permalink
    May 6, 2009 3:59 am

    This sounds great! How could we have not thought of this on our own? I’ll be making a pot of chili over the weekend anyway. So, next week, I’ll make some pasta to mix in! Thanks for the excellent idea.

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