Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rachael Ray's Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake

I have been told that this is one of the BEST casseroles out there! I haven't actually tasted it because I made it for a family at church, but they said it was AMAZING!
Really, if you think about it, what can go wrong with pasta and cheese!?!?!

1 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon roasted ground coriander

2 tablespoons chili powder
Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalepeño
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 pound cheddar cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked--a little chewy at the center.

While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the hamburger.  When the hamburger is almost finished, but still a little pink, throw in the garlic, jalepeño, and onions and finish cooking until the burger is browned and the onion is translucent.  Drain the grease from the skillet and mix in the cumin, coriander and chili powder.  Take off the heat or turn heat down low.

In a medium sauce pot (and you can do this while you're browning the hamburger), melt the butter and add the flour to it.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro and parsley with a wooden spoon.  When the cheese has melted, stir in the tomatoes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot.  Add the contents of the hamburger and all of the Cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with a bit more cheese if you wish, and place under the broiler to lightly brown.

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