Chili Mac and Cheese
This dish may be made entirely in advance to the point where you sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake it just before serving. (If the casserole was cold, you may need to heat it longer. In that case, after browning the topping, cover the dish with foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until heated through.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 6-cup capacity baking dish with cooking spray. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high; add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until somewhat softened, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, crumbling it with your spoon; stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and cook, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the pasta pot or a saucepan, whisk the flour with about 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth; add the remaining milk and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cheese until smooth. Add the pasta and meat and transfer to the prepared baking pan.
  4. Combine the panko with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; sprinkle over the casserole and bake until the crumbs are golden, about 10 minutes.