Sigh... I told you Jeff was obsessed with Mickey! Now I had to figure out how to work Mickey, Donald and Pluto into dinner.
Luckily, I didn't have to look too hard... I thought about a recipe I came across recently that used that funky wagon wheel pasta, so I swapped that shape for the Disney characters and made this Chili Pasta with Beans.
We began this one-pot dish by browning ground sirloin and a chopped onion in a skillet with a whisper of oil covering the bottom. To add some intensity to the sirloin, we used a combination of two chili powders - ancho and a hot chili blend... you could, of course, just use your house chili powder if you like. To back up those spices, we also stirred in cumin and oregano - when you add all those spices, be sure to stir them around the pan for a minute. Besides thoroughly coating the meat, the heat in the skillet will help their flavor bloom and flourish.
Now, because we are not pre-cooking the pasta, you'll need enough liquid in the pot to give it something to absorb and cook through. The original recipe called for using water, but we poured in beef broth since I had some handy - use water if you like, but why miss a chance to add more oomph if you can? Along with the pasta, we added red kidney beans, a bit of tomato sauce and fire-roasted diced tomatoes that were spiked with green chiles for that fiery thrill. Be sure to cover the skillet as it simmers - this will help trap the moisture inside, ensuring the pasta has plenty of liquid to absorb, while leaving enough leftover to keep the chili movin' and groovin'. Do keep in mind, since the skillet is packed pretty full, the pasta will take a little longer than you think to soften.
Topped with a few shreds of sharp white cheddar, this dish was hearty, completely comforting and very stomach-warming. Warming in more ways that one... it was pretty darn spicy! While not too spicy for us (though, it did get us sweating!), if you don't enjoy that heat, I'd either use a milder chili powder, just add a few dollops of sour cream, or tame the tomatoes by using regular fire-roasted instead. This also gets big points for being pretty quick to prepare and keeping the dishes down to a minimum... making for an inviting, healthy weeknight meal!
Chili Pasta with Beans