One-pot chilli mac’n’cheese
The ultimate comfort food mash-up!
I live for a one-pot wonder! I love cooking, but I also love finding ways to simplify meals and make them easy and hassle-free to make without compromising on taste. Comfort food is my thing, and I always love it when Autumn kicks in and I feel really justified in cooking up big pots of comfort food! Some of my favourites are beef & Guinness casserole, smoky chilli con carne, pork and apple stew and Brazilian pork stew
The brilliant thing about these types of meals is that it’s actually really easy to make them lovely and healthy- you can fit in so many veggies into a casserole or a stew, and the method of cooking often means there’s no need for added fats, so as long as you use a lean meat you can really control how healthy your meal is.
Chilli con carne is a real favourite of mine, and it’s often a Saturday night meal for us, served with some brown rice with lots of lime squeezed over the top and homemade guacamole (or even Brocamole or zucchimole!). I also love toasted seeds on top (sunflower and pumpkin seeds dry-fried for a couple of minutes) and lots of fresh coriander.
I’ve always found macaroni cheese a bit too much on it’s own, as I’m not a huge fan of cheesy sauces- but I loved the idea of making a mash-up of chilli con carne and macaroni cheese! My version doesn’t have a cheesy sauce added in, just cheese stirred through, but you could always add an extra cheese sauce element by using some low- fat cream cheese melted into milk and stirred through.
can you freeze chilli mac’n’cheese?
Yes! Although I usually avoid freezing pasta as it can just end up so mushy when you reheat it, macaroni stands up much better to freezing/reheating as it’s a denser type of pasta. So if you make a great big batch of this and have lots left over then simply freeze it in individual portions in a freezer-safe plastic container or freezer bag.
To do this, just cool it first, and freeze for up to 3 months. I usually allow it to thoroughly defrost (ideally in the fridge overnight) and then just reheat it in the microwave.
what substitutes can I make?
- If you aren’t a fan of kidney beans then try black beans, pinto beans or haricot beans instead (personally I prefer these and sometimes use a mix of them!). You can buy both varieties dried, but I tend to by the tinned ones so that they are ready to go.
- You can substitute the beef mince for extra lean turkey mince if you wish!
- You can use different varieties of pasta but you may need to adjust the timings if doing so.
- If you fancy some more oozy, stringy cheese, stir some mozzarella through the pot before scattering the cheddar on top and grilling.
How does this recipe work on Slimming World?
This recipe is syn-free on Slimming World! if sharing this between 6 people, it counts as 1 healthy extra A per portion (30g of cheddar cheese per person).
what to serve alongside chilli mac’n’cheese
- Simple side salad- I always like rocket leaves with this as they are quite hardy
- Thinly sliced red and yellow peppers- that fresh cruch is a great complement to this
- Grated/julienned carrot
- Zucchimole- a low fat alternative to guacamole- find the recipe in p.208 of The Slimming Foodie cookbook
- Simple ribbons of raw courgette dressed with some fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt
where can I get more recipes like this?
This recipe is one of the ten most popular recipes on The Slimming Foodie blog, so it made it into my first cookbook, The Slimming Foodie!
A Sunday Times Bestseller, you can find my cookbook in many independent bookshops, some larger branches of Sainsburys, and online at many retailers (find out where here).
In this recipe
LE CREUSET Signature Enamelled Cast Iron Round Casserole Dish With Lid, 28 cm, 6.7 Litre
Joseph Joseph Prism Box Grater
Tala Measuring Spoons, Stainless Steel
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One-pot chilli mac’n’cheese
- low calorie cooking spray/spray oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 red peppers diced
- 500 g lean beef mince less that 5% fat
- 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 400g can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 800 ml hot beef stock
- 300 g dried macaroni pasta
- 180 g cheddar finely grated
- For the spice mix: 1 teaspoon chilli powder 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon onion granules, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt
- Get your spice mix ready by mixing all the spices together in a small bowl/ramekin.
- Spray a large, oven-proof saucepan or flameproof casserole dish with low-calorie cooking spray or oil, and fry the onion & garlic gently for 3 minutes.
- Add the red peppers to the pan and fry for 1 more minute.
- Add the minced meat and cook until brown, stirring and breaking it up with a spoon, then spoon in the spice mix and stir it through the meat thoroughly.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, kidney beans and Worcestershire sauce. Stir again.
- Pour in the beef stock and the macaroni and stir well. Put the lid on and simmer gently for 15 minutes, until the macaroni is cooked. For the last few minutes, remove the lid and bubble gently, giving it a good stir. Preheat the grill on its highest setting.
- Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese.
- Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and place under the hot grill for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, melted and browned on top.