Monday, January 17, 2011

Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

Okay, I held out as long as I could. I know it’s January, the month of healthy eating and dieting resolutions. I tried to give you as many healthy recipes as I could. I haven’t even mentioned dessert so far this month. But the time has come for me to cave. I just have too many delicious (slightly fattening) recipes to tell you about. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Apologies and disclaimers aside, today’s recipe is one I’ve been waiting to tell you about for the last few weeks. It’s a new, fresh, kicked up take on the family-friendly classic chili mac. In this version, lean ground beef and macaroni are cooked up with a delicious mix of onions, garlic, and spices. Corn and green chiles are thrown into the mix to jazz things up a little. Oh, and did I mention the whole thing is topped with gooey cheese and fresh cilantro? Just telling you about it is making my stomach growl.

In addition to the fabulous flavors, let me give you three more reasons why you will love this chili mac. Number One: The entire meal is cooked in one skillet. That means you only have one thing to wash after dinner. Can I get a hallelujah? Number Two: The entire meal can be prepped and ready to hit the table in under 30 minutes. How often does that really happen? Number Three: Leftovers (if you have any) taste just as good as they did the first night. Honestly, I’m a little bummed I don’t have any ground beef in the house so I could make this for dinner tonight!

One Year Ago: Roasted Eggplant with Parsley and Garlic

Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles
Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café

1 T. vegetable or canola oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
3/4 tablespoon chili powder (add more if you want more heat)
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 oz. (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar), divided
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin. Cook the beef until it is no longer pink, then drain off any accumulated grease, if necessary. (Whether or not you have any excess grease will depend on how lean your beef is. My beef was pretty lean, so I did not need to drain it.)

Add the garlic and brown sugar. Stir constantly for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is cooked through.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in 1 cup of the cheese and the corn and green chiles. Top with the remaining cup of cheese, and cover the skillet. Let the skillet sit for a minute or two, until the cheese melts, then sprinkle the cilantro over the top. Serve hot.

Serves 6.


  1. omg send your mom's lower fat version. i want to go to there.

  2. Heather - I'm glad you want to go there! That cracked me up when I read it.

    The low-fat version my mom came up with is actually not for this recipe, it's for the chipotle macaroni and cheese (a few posts back). She posted her changes in the comment section.

    To make this recipe lower fat, I'd just cut the amount of cheese in half and make sure you use a really lean ground beef. The rest of it is pretty healthy. Enjoy!

  3. whoops. i dont know how i confused the two... but i'm making both. asap.

  4. Heather - We loved them both, and I hope you will too! Please let me know how they turn out! (And if you make any modifications to make them WW friendly, please let me know that, too!)

  5. Hi Katie, I think I will try this recipe too using my lower fat substitutions.
    First of all, since Dad wants to stay away from red meat, I will try this with ground turkey breast--definitely lower fat.
    I will also substitute 1 cup of the cheese with the 2% sharp cheese. I don't want to give up any cheesy goodness, what's the point of eating cheesy-mac with less cheese? I'll let you know how it turns out.

  6. I just found your *fabulous* site via the Pioneer Woman's recipe section. {Tortellini Soup}. I am looking for something easy and delicious to serve as we watch the NFL play-off games today, and this looks perfect and hearty for football watching. (And fueling up for dog-walking here in the cold grey south) -- Hello from the other side of the Tennessee River Valley; Huntsville, Alabama.

    Everything looks so delicious and man-pleasing here that I'm going to cook my way through your recipe files!

  7. I also found you from Pioneer Woman and think this looks DELICIOUS!!! I'm definitely putting this on my menu for this week!!

  8. Mom - Good ideas on how to cut back the fat! Just a thought, you might need to use a bit more oil when you cook the turkey breast since it is such a lean meat.

    As for the cheese, I'd probably use half the amount of full-fat cheese rather than the entire amount of low-fat cheese (I think full-fat cheese melts better), but I'd love to hear how it turns out for you!!

  9. LC - Hello in Huntsville! I've been wanting to visit there ever since we moved to Nashville. I want to check out the NASA museum!

    I think this would make an excellent football watching food! A nice change up from chili and the like.

    P.S. I loved your comment about my recipes being man-pleasing. I like to think they are! Please keep me posted on what you try and how you like it!

  10. Erin D. - Thank you! I hope you like it :)

  11. This recipe was a huge hit in my party-of-two household. We love it! I like that we have lots of leftovers for lunch -- two days worth! Completely yummy and budget friendly.

    I've been in Huntsville for almost 17 months now and I have yet to visit the NASA compound! As far as Huntsville in general goes, there's not much to do here (I'm from Southern California, here because of my husband's job relocation). I much prefer the Tennessee side of the valley -- I love Franklin, Nashville and Chattanooga.

  12. LC - Thanks for letting me know how it turned out. I'm so glad you loved it!

  13. Made this last night and I doubled the recipe (for my 1 person household :)!) based on the photos - froze 6 packages for future easy warm up meals. I froze without adding the cheese and in hindsight probably should have made it without the mac for freezing as I used Tinkyada gluten-free pasta - but we'll see how it does.

    So good! So glad I doubled up! Aside from the Gluten Free pasta, I also added black beans.

  14. Ann - I'm so glad you liked it! I think doubling the recipe for freezing is a great idea. I will have to try that in my Dutch oven!

    It's great to know the recipe worked well with gluten-free pasta too!

  15. Katie,

    I did the double in a Dutch oven. And another thought...I ate quite a bit of it today (burp!) without any cheese. I suppose that makes it not quite a chili mac, but the sauce/veg/spice/pasta combo is quite flavorful on its own as well. Personally, I love cheese and love this recipe with cheese, but also without :)! Just a great recipe and so glad to have found your site.

  16. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE- awesome recipe! My 16 month old daughter, who doesn't care for meat, ate her weight in it! --Joanna

  17. Joanna - I'm so glad you guys liked it so much. Thanks for letting me know!



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