While eating a bowl of my chili mack, my son stated that the chili at Boys Bible Camp was way better than mine. The rest of the family gasped, forks dropped, and bodies quivered awaiting Mother’s wrath that follows any insults aimed at her cooking. I reminded him that it was not the chili he liked so much as the “Tootage” that wafted through the cabin creating a choir of giggles amongst the little heathens. Which brings me to a story, I’ll keep it brief. Over the course of my marriage I have made multiple pots of red gravy (spaghetti sauce), all homemade, cooked all day like Grandma used to make and Ma still makes. Soon after the adoption of my daughter I broke a big rule of Italianess and bought and served my family jarred sauce. The next day my hubby called me from work and said, “The sauce on the pasta was the best you ever made.” (You should be sucking in all your air right now just as I did then.)
I said, “It’s Ragu.”
He said, “Gotta go,” and quickly hung up.
We laughed about that story just today after my son unloaded his own ill-fated confession.
All that aside, chili mack is a popular dish in our home. Like Mary Poppins said, “A bowl full of pasta makes the chili go down!” As it is, I have to make my chili without beans because if my kids saw a bean they would faint. I also have to hit the pot of chili with a few whirls of my immersion blender to camo any onions or other mystery chunks. My husband asked today, “Why do we have to have the mack, can’t we just have a bowl of chili?” To which I quickly quipped, “It’s the Italian part of the chili.”
Chili Mack– adapted from the Ghirardelli Cookbook
4 slices uncured bacon, diced
One Vidalia onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2-3 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper
2 T. Mexican chocolate (see recipe below)
One 28 oz. can Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes*
In a large well oiled skillet, over medium high heat, brown the bacon. Then add the onion. Once the onion is translucent add the garlic and ground beef. Cook until ground beef is browned. (Draining is optional) Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer, covered, over medium heat for 30 minutes. While the chili is cooking, boil one pound of pasta, I like cavatappi or small shells. Drain pasta. Individually plate the pasta, top with chili, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions and Holy Jalapeno. Serves 6.
* Note: Pastene Kitchen Ready is the canned tomato of choice in my mom’s, my brother’s and my house. It makes the difference in all our red gravy dishes. Those of us in VA have it shipped in -two cases at a time!
Mexican Chocolate- adapted from “Cream Puffs in Venice”
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar- I used unrefined
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 – 1 t. cayenne pepper (this is my addition)
Process all ingredients in a food processor until chopped fine and well blended. Store in an airtight container. Use in chili or chocolate desserts. My favorite-Add 3 tablespoons to 8 ounces steamed milk for a HOT cuppa.
Note- This is named for my nephew Mack!