Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Southwestern Chili Mac

This recipe was inspired by Picky Palate's Southwestern Chicken Chili Mac. It looked so delicious, I knew we had to try it.

I changed a few ingredients based on my family's preferences and what we had on hand. I had Pork Carnitas in the freezer and used that for the meat.

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1/2 lb. small pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed (shells, wagon wheels, elbows or spirals)
2 cups pork carnitas (or other shredded, cooked chicken or pork)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (any color)
1 TBL minced garlic
1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chilies, mild
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
1/2 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBL chili powder
1 TBL cumin
1 tsp dry Ranch salad-dressing mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
oil for the pan

In a deep skillet, cook onions and peppers until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add remaining ingredients except cheese.  Stir until well combined and simmer until heated thoroughly.

In the future I will season this differently.
Ro-Tel adds enough spice that I could have done without the chili and cumin. Also, I'd rather use a can of tomato sauce and half a can of water for the liquid rather than chicken broth.

Remember to choose the right pan for the job. It's always better to have a pan that's a little bigger than you need--the pan on the right is the one I used for this recipe and I barely squeezed it all in. Stirring without spilling was a tough job.

This is a great way to use leftover cooked chicken or pork--or pasta that was leftover from another meal. I used half a can each of corn and beans, and froze the rest for next time. (Yes, canned vegetables can be frozen in appropriate containers). We really liked this easy, pantry-friendly dish.

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