Our first year of marriage, Joe and I lived a few blocks away from a fabulous bar (sadly, no longer in existence) in Washington, DC where you could eat (especially on a boring Monday night, which became our regular habit) the most fabulous creation called Chili Mac with a delicious side of Waffle Fries with a pint of beer (which at the time was Brooklyn Lager). It was the antidote to our Sunday Night jitters, but a celebration that we had made it through Monday. Since that time, I have over and over tried to recreate that meal. I have never nailed it, but the closest thing was this macaroni and cheese and this chili (obviously with beef, not buffalo), both also really great by themselves. The consistency of each of them was critical and these fit the bill.
Fast forward to living in an RV when chili mac, though tempting on a chilly evening, would never work. Too many dishes to clean, too much propane to simmer something for hours, and definitely not enough pots. My mealtime decisions revolve completely around: how much water will be required to wash the dishes, how much propane and/or electricity the meal will use (and if its even available), and if we have enough pots and pans.
When we were in DC recently, my dear friend who remembered our love of chili mac made us a batch that seemed to hit some of the critical components of a good chili mac (have I mentioned the consistency!?) yet was made in one pot. I’m not sure where her original came from, but I made some modifications to make Moore kids happy and here we go:
Camping Chili Mac
- olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion diced
- 1 pound ground beef (or whatever ground meat you have)
- 2.5 cups of milk
- 1 can chicken broth
- 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 T chili powder (we ran out, so I barely had a 1/4 T; point is add what you like)
- 1.5 t cumin
- 2 cups elbow pasta
- 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Saute the garlic/onions in the oil. Crumble and brown beef. Stir in the cans, the milk, and the seasoning (also s&p). Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in pasta and let simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cheese until smooth. Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes, until pasta is cooked.