Chili Mac!Chili Mac is old fashioned home style comfort food. Just about the only place that chili mac is offered on a menu is at school cafeterias, less costly buffets and American diner style restaurants. Honestly, a good gourmet style Chili Mac could be a great tavern or saloon menu item.
Chili Mac is usually made with ground beef or chopped beef pieces. Not everybody eats beef. People that suddenly go health conscious tend to go for chicken entrées first when they change their dietary habits. There also are people who actually only eat chicken meat and nothing else. Chicken Chili Mac could be mighty appealing to these folks!
I kept the selection of chiles for today's Chicken Chili Mac recipe on the mild side, instead of the spicy hot wild side, so this recipe would appeal to nearly everybody. Containers of chili powder that are sold at grocery stores are almost always a blend of ground chile ancho, ground chile guajillo, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. Some chili powder blends are pretty good, while others are just okay at best.
It is always better to tailor the chile pepper mixture for each recipe. A "one size fits all" manufactured chili powder product will only result in every recipe tasting the same. This is not what thinking like a chef is all about. Customizing the selection of dried chile peppers for each recipe will result in each recipe being unique.
At a Mexican food market or commercial grocery stores in the southwest, rarely are pre-mixed spice blends or chili powder blends seen on the store shelves. Chili powder is pretty much only for those who have minimal chile pepper knowledge. Chili powder is a convenience.
Cooks that make Mexican and southwestern style cuisine have extensive chile pepper knowledge. They know how to blend varieties of chiles to create traditional flavors. A better tasting Chili Mac can be made at home by custom blending a well thought out selection of chile powders. The dried peppers can be ground like a powder or simmered and pureed. Either way works well.
Chicken Chili Mac:
This recipe yields 1 hearty portion! If several portions of this recipe are needed, use a wide braising pot instead of a sauté pan to cook the Chile Mac.
Kidney beans or pink beans are an optional ingredient for any chili recipe or chili mac recipe. Kidney beans taste nice in Chicken Chili Mac!
Contrary to belief, chili does not always have to simmer all day long. Chili only has to simmer long enough for the meat to become tender and till the chile pepper sauce flavors meld. Chicken Chili does not require much simmering time.
Another fallacy of southwestern cuisine is thinking that all dried chile pepper pods need to be pan roasted. The easiest way to ruin dried peppers is to roast them to a black color. Burnt food is burnt food in any language. If one can smell the roasting chile pepper pods from 20 feet away, then all that flavor is vanishing in thin air, instead of staying in the pot!
Step 1: Cook one portion of macaroni pasta in boiling water till it becomes al dente.
Cool the pasta under cold running water.
Drain the water off of the pasta.
Set the pasta aside.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Add a 6 to 8 ounce boneless chicken breast that is cut into bite size pieces.
Sauté till the chicken becomes halfway cooked.
Step 3: Add 1 chopped jalapeño pepper.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
Sauté till the chicken becomes fully cooked and till the vegetables start to become tender.
Step 4: Add 2 teaspoons of Masa Harina while stirring, to soak up any excess oil.
Add 1/3 cup of chopped plum tomato.
Add enough light chicken broth to barely cover the ingredients.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground chile ancho.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground New Mexico Chile powder.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of Spanish paprika.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
Add 1 pinch of Mexican oregano.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Step 5: Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer and reduce the liquid, till it becomes a very thin sauce consistency.
Step 6: Add the reserved portion of cooked macaroni.
Add 1/2 cup of rinsed cooked kidney beans or rinsed canned kidney beans. (optional)
Toss the ingredients together.
Simmer till the macaroni and kidney beans become hot. Simmer till the chili sauce can cling to the pasta.
Place the chicken chili mac in a soup bowl or stew bowl.
Garnish with 2 slices of grilled garlic bread.
Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig or Cilantro Sprig.
Viola! A comfortably mild chili mac made with chicken!