Okay…it was late and I hadn’t really planned dinner. The Latin Lover loves mac and cheese; he loves chili dogs…hmmm…what to make? What to make? And then it hit me like a pasta pot upside the head…why not combine the two? People, this is big kid food. It’s really stick-to-your-ribs stuff and it’s pretty tasty, too. After The Latin Lover spent the morning toiling with snow removal, or rather heavy-sloppy-partially-frozen slush removal, he was bone-tired and cold. He needed something that would warm him to his toes…yeah, there is that, but he needed something to eat first.
Pasta is a natural go-to for a quick dinner. Pasta has been with us since the inception of America. It was Thomas Jefferson (TeeJay) who not only brought us tarragon, he brought us “macaroni”, too. Apparently he was served pasta during a Paris dining experience and was “bowled” over (Ouch!). Don’t you just love the inter-connectivity of cuisines? Thus, the direct importation of pasta from Naples, to our fledgling country, began.
This dish is simple. It’s leftover chili, some hot dogs, pasta and Mornay sauce. I’m not even going to give you a written recipe for this…you don’t need one. Within 20 minutes, The Lover was happily enjoying his dinner.
This is how the Chili Dog Mac and Cheese played out. I put the pot on to boil (after removing the dent from the head incident!) and I got another pan out for the Mornay sauce. As you may remember, this is nothing more than béchamel sauce with some cheese added at the end.
Put the fat in the hot pan, melt it and then stir in the flour. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, toss in a couple of tablespoons of diced onion and red bell pepper and a bit of garlic granules. Stir that around for a few minutes. Meanwhile, cut the dogs into thick slices, stir into the chili and nuke it until very hot. I used some leftover chili (it was frozen; I thawed it out). If you don’t have chili hanging around in your freezer, buy a can. Keep it in your pantry for just such occasions. Yeah, I know. It’s not as good as your homemade chili, but “fix” it up a bit. Taste it. What does it need? Maybe a little more cumin? Or sugar? Or lime juice or vinegar?
Anyway, when the water boils, put a handful of salt into it, then the pasta, stir it and put the lid on, ajar. Remember, never cover a pasta pot completely or it will boil over; always leave the lid a little ajar. I used pipette pasta, little elbows with ridges, set the timer for 4 minutes and finished off the Mornay sauce.
After the milk is added to the sauce, let it come to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes, take the pot off the heat and and toss in some shredded cheese…this is a good way to get rid of the bits and pieces of cheese that accumulates in the bowels of your fridge.
Gently stir the cheese in just until it’s almost melted. Don’t over-stir or the cheese can become stringy. Try the pasta; it was a little too al dente, so I added 1 minute to the timer. Pour yourself a glass of wine…ahhhh. The minute’s up, taste and now it’s perfect.
Drain the pasta, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir until it comes together. Put a couple of big spoons in a pasta bowl,
top with another big spoon of the chili dog chili and sprinkle with some diced raw onion, maybe a little bit of bell pepper and some cilantro…whatever you have and would like to have with your Chili Dog Mac and Cheese. See? I told you it was simple…dinner is served.