A mess of onions, roughly two medium's worth, gave us a running start, along with a couple jalapeños for a little heat. When you add the onions in, go ahead and season generously with salt to help the onions along in the softening process - two teaspoons may seem a lot at first, but don't stress as this gets stretched out quite a bit. Lean ground sirloin was the meat of choice for us to add into the pot, however ground turkey, pork or chicken would be options to think about. The original recipe did call with two whole pounds, but we scaled that back by half a pound as we thought that may be excessive for us - feel free to knock that back up if you wanted a beefier result.
Keeping the yield in mind, we kept the aggressive theme going with the seasonings, stirring heaps of Mexican chili powder, Mexican oregano and six large cloves of garlic, minced, in along with the beef. After giving the meat some alone time in the pot, the rest of the chili ingredients were tossed in - juicy canned whole plum tomatoes (coarsely chopped or broken with your hands), kidney beans and a little water to get a bubbly groove on.
As the chili simmered away, we had another pot on the stove coming to a boil - we needed this to start cooking the protein-rich multi-grain elbow macaroni. This can be done before the chili is ready for it though - just rinse the noodles off in cool water to stop them from cooking. When the chili had thickened, the noodles and a handful of white cheddar were tossed into the pot... but we were not done just yet! The pot, which was now very heavy being completely full, was tipped into a large casserole dish - which at first, didn't look like it was going to hold all this chili mac! Smoothing it out with a spatula (and pressing it down a bit) allowed it all to fit it, albeit very snugly, but then I started to think about spillage... a baking sheet underneath was called for just in case - cleaning oven messes is no fun at all!
As with most casseroles, we needed a cheesy topping, which came in the form of more sharp white cheddar scattered all over before this went into the oven to bake through. To be completely honest, the original recipe did call for a whopping pound of cheese -but again, for us, that seemed way over the top. If you're a cheese hound, by all means add as much as your heart desires, but yes, we scaled that back and didn't find the dish suffered at all.
We ended up dividing this out into eight portions, which left us completely stuffed to the brim and happy with plenty of leftovers for the week. However, I think this could easily stretch to at least 10 portions and still be satisfying. You'll see how neat and tidy some of the portions we plated were - this was after letting the dish rest about fifteen minutes. We first let it rest about 5 minutes and pulled out the first piece, which resulted in this - a little messy, but the rich aroma started our stomachs rumbling and we just didn't want to wait!