I was cleaning up the pantry last weekend and came across said bag - when we heard about how cold it was suppose to get this weekend, Jeff immediately asked if we could make a big ol' pot of chili at some point this weekend. The high tomorrow is suppose to be -6... brrr! So, after some digging around, we decided on integrating that wagon wheel pasta into this Southwestern Chili Pasta dish for dinner tonight as it would make just enough to give us a few extra bowls to enjoy Saturday and Sunday.
A pretty typical recipe for chili, this one starts out by lightly browning a healthy dose of chopped onions and red peppers. In the same skillet, sans cooked vegetables, a pound of lean ground sirloin is added to brown up. To the beef, we added the best part in my opinion, the spices! You can play around with the amounts to your taste, but we used a combination of regular and hot chili powder (from Penzeys of course!), a little unsweetened cocoa powder, cumin for a smoky depth and just a couple pinches of cinnamon - the cinnamon may sound odd to some, but its subtle sweetness just adds that extra "something".
After the spices have toasted briefly, stewed tomatoes, black beans and a cup of beef broth is stirred into the meat, along with the golden veggies, and allowed to simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Be sure to use this time to break up the tomatoes a bit as they cook - they are still fairly large right out of the can. This mixture is then added to the cooked fun wagon wheels to create a thick, chunky and very stomach-warming one-bowl meal. If you don't have the wheels, this would work quite well with the same amount of ziti pasta instead. Jeff and I both took a bite to see if we needed to add any of the traditional chili toppings, but we were quite pleased and decided to leave off the sour cream and cheddar we would typically add. We are so looking forward to having this hearty dish for lunch tomorrow!
Southwestern Chili Pasta