Chili Mac for Grownups (and adventurous kids)

Chunks of local, pastured ground beef fried with yellow onions and cumin and simmered with dried chilies, garlic, Mexican oregano, halved grape tomatoes and jalapeños.  Tossed with gluten-free corn macaroni and topped with shredded cheddar, crushed yellow corn chips and fresh cilantro..

Chili Mac for Grownups (and adventurous kids)

3-4 ancho chilies, split, stemmed, seeded and toasted
2-3 New Mexico chilies, split, stemmed, seeded and toasted
filtered water as needed

1 tablespoon beef tallow or bacon drippings
1/2 pound local, pastured ground beef or bison
1/2 yellow onion cut into large dice
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano

1 cup corn macaroni, cooked and drained

yellow corn chips, crushed
sharp cheddar cheese, grated
fresh cilantro, torn

Toast the split chilies on a dry comal or skillet over medium heat for 20 seconds on each side. Take care not to let them scorch, or they will be bitter. Allow to cool slightly, then place in a food processor or blender and crush into a fine powder. With the motor running, slowly add cool, filtered water until a thin paste is formed. Pour into a clean container and set aside.

Pinch off 1 1/2 inch pieces of ground beef, compress lightly and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Allow to stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tallow or bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chunks of ground beef to the hot fat, taking care not to crowd the pan. Allow to form a crisp crust on one side, then turn over and add the onions. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and onions to a plate, leaving as much fat as possible behind.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until they begin to fall apart, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and jalapeño and sauté briefly. Add pureed chilies, oregano, browned meat and onions, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust consistency with a little water if needed, then fold in cooked macaroni and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.  Correct bitterness if present with a tiny bit of honey.

Spoon mixture into individual serving dishes, and top with shredded cheese, crushed corn chips and torn, fresh cilantro.

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