Ask a man what he wants for supper in my house and nine times out of eight the answer is "Chili Mac!". (The other two times? Cheeseburgers). Chili Mac has been a long time favorite of the guys of this household and it is awfully good. We had a funny sort of day the other day. The lawn had gone to seed and was oh about waist high (seemed like it anyway) and Chance was determined it would get mown that day come what may. Well everything that could possibly go wrong did. The mower blades were on upside down or backwards or something, so he righted that. And then off he went only to have a belt shred to pieces. Then the tire needed pumping up. New belt was put on and snapped in two right away. Second belt bought (correct size this time) and was put on. Then he ran out of gas at the bottom of the yard and had to hike up and down again to fill the thing up. And finally it rained! Would he quit? Not at that point, No! It had become a major quest of his to mow that lawn and mow it he did.
Well I had total sympathy for my guy. And hamburger was thawing out anyway so what better meal to prepare than one of his most favorite? So I started the chili mac while he was outside and it was worth seeing the look of pleased surprise on his face when he came in, soaked to the skin, coated in grass and dirt (how you can get so dirty when it was so very wet only a mowing man can tell you!) and tired to the bone. While he showered, I made corn muffins and a green salad and sat him right down at the table when he was all cleaned up and fed him. I even had some cherry turnovers thawing on the counter (one of those manager's markdowns from the bakery that I purchased ahead a couple of weeks ago and froze).
The yard looked terrific, by the way. But more pleasant to me was the look of contentment on his face. I felt like I'd scored a big one for the home team.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 15oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of water
1 15oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
3 tbsps chili powder
1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar if tomatoes are very tart
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 8 ounce package elbow macaroni, bowties or rigatoni pasta
Brown ground meat, breaking up as it cooks. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is just translucent.
Add tomatoes, water, beans, chili powder, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Bring ingredients up to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. During last hour, remove lid and allow some of liquid to evaporate. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding brown sugar if needed. Add cocoa powder and uncooked pasta, then bring up to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium and cook for 8-9 minutes (or per cooking length listed on pasta package. Pasta should be just al dente. Remove from heat and serve in deep bowls.
I like to top the chili mac with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of sliced green onions or chopped fresh cilantro. Chance likes to add oyster crackers to his bowl but I prefer crumbled corn bread, being a proper SCG (Southern Country Girl).