Mild and Light Chili Mac



1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 lb lean ground sirloin
1 T plus 1 t chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t dried cilantro, or 1 T fresh, minced
1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 lime, squished
2 (16 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 (10 oz) cans chopped tomatoes with mild chilis – Rotel or Hatch work well, but a store brand is just fine
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
Water – measure by filling one of the empty tomato cans with water once and the second empty tomato can twice.
Garnish: extra cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped raw onion, and hot sauces

Spoon Mage™ Notes:

I like to use Gebhardt Chili Powder, but you can use your favorite brand.


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and red bell and sauté until the onion begins to soften. Add the ground sirloin, stirring until the meat is completely cooked. Drain off the excess fats and return the pot to the stove.

Add the garlic, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin to the meat. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the lime juice, the two cans of tomatoes, beans, elbow macaroni, and tomato cans worth of water as measured in the empty tomato cans.

Bring the whole to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes or until the macaroni gets very plump. Stir every now and then and add water as needed – just remember you are making chili, not soup. A little at a time is just right.

After the macaroni is cooked, taste, adjust seasonings. If it is still too thick for your tastes, add a smidge of water at a time. If it is too thin, cook uncovered for a few extra minutes. The chili will thicken a little if made earlier in the day. If you do make the chili mac ahead of time, expect to add more water when it is reheated.

This is not the kind of chili you would keep on the stove all day. Cook it until the pastas are done and it has been adjusted to suit your taste. Then pull off heat. Reheat and stir very gently so as not to break up the macaroni or tender pinto beans.

Set out the cilantro and cheddar cheese, a little raw onion, and hot sauces such as Tabasco. They all make great toppings.

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