On one of my 3am shifts with Saisha I was watching reruns of Rachael Ray and saw her make this recipe. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep that convinced me to make a recipe with 31 ingredients but it just looked that good. Basically, it's a taco salad with homemade mac and cheese mixed in. Amazing! I halved the recipe below and did not add the olives and scallions on top. I also use crunched up corn chips instead of frying up corn tortillas. Thank you Becky for making most of the recipe for me!
1 package corn tortillas or any color corn chips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or cooking spray
1 box elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, grated, divided
4 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle of beer
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes with chilies, drained
3 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese, divided
2 cans vegetarian spicy refried beans
5 to 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes, zest of 1 and juice of 2
1 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Hot sauce to taste
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup chopped olives with pimientos
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Yields: 12 servings
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
If using corn tortillas, cut them into thin strips about 1/2 inch thick, and place them onto a baking sheet. Toss them with some vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray and season them with salt and ground pepper. Pop them into the oven and cook until crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water up to a boil over high heat. Salt the water then add the noodles and cook to package instructions.
Place a large skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon EVOO. Brown the meat, then add in the onion, 4 cloves grated garlic and 2 jalapeños, and cook until tender.
Season the meat and veggies with chili powder, coriander, cumin and tomato paste. Let the meat mixture cook for a minute or two with the spices, then add the beer and let that cook down for about 4-5 minutes. Reserve.
While the meat is cooking, make the cheese sauce: In a saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and give it a stir to combine with the butter. Cook for a minute or so then whisk in the milk. Cook until thickened.
Drain the can of tomatoes with chilies and add them to the thickened milk mixture. Fold in 2 1/2 cups cheese and the reserved noodles. Season with salt and pepper, and reserve.
In another saucepot, heat up the can of refried beans with a little bit of water.
To build the casserole, spread the beef mixture out in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with the refried beans and finish it off with the mac and cheeses and the remaining cheese. Pop the casserole into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
While the casserole is baking, make the salsa: Mix the plum tomatoes, remaining jalapeño peppers, red onion and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt, lime zest and juice, and reserve.
For the guacamole sour cream, scoop the flesh of the avocados into the bowl of a food processor and add the sour cream, lemon juice, remaining 2 cloves grated garlic and hot sauce. Process until creamy.
Once the casserole comes out of the oven, top it with the crispy corn strips and shredded iceberg lettuce. Top with the salsa, then the guacamole sour cream and finally the chopped olives with pimientos and scallions.