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One-Pot Chili Mac & Cheese

One-Pot Chili Mac & Cheese
Serves 6

1 Tablespoon of olive oil – stock
1 spanish or yellow onion, chopped finely – $1.19
2 cloves of garlic, minced – stock
½-lb lean ground beef – $5.49
12-oz bottle of beer (I used a wheat beer, Blue Moon) – stock
2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth – stock
14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes (I use fire-roasted whenever available) – stock
14.5-oz can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed – $1.29
14.5-oz can of red kidney beans, drained & rinsed – $0.99
2 teaspoons chili powder – stock
1½ teaspoons cumin – stock
Salt & pepper, to taste – stock
½-lb of elbow pasta, uncooked – stock
¾-cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese – $2.99
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped finely – $0.79
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $12.74
Cost per serving: $2.12

1. In a large Dutch oven or lidded stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 15 minutes until the onion starts to turn translucent and a bit golden. Stir frequently.

2. Deglaze the pan with a splash of beer before adding the ground beef and garlic to the onion, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, crumbling the beef into small bits.

3. Stir in the remaining beer, broth, tomatoes, beans, chili powder and cumin. Season with about 2 teaspoons of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Over a med-low flame, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours, letting the flavor develop. Reduce the flame as necessary.

4. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve the dish, stir in the uncooked pasta and simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes, until pasta is just this side of al dente.

5. Remove the pot from heat and top with the cheese, cover and let sit for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese melts.

6. Serve immediately garnished with fresh cilantro.