A recent discussion about fall/winter foods reminded me that I had not made Chili in quite a while. I know I made Chicken Chili last winter but don’t think I made any Beef Chili. Because I usually enjoy my chili over pasta (with lots of cheese melted on top), I decided to try something different and make a Chili Stuffed Manicotti. The chili recipe is a modification of my standard Beef Chili recipe to allow for more of a sauce to keep the pasta from drying out. I doubled the tomato paste, added some Worcestershire and increased the spices to balance with the changes.
The only thing I might do differently in the future is to add some cheese to the chili before filling the tubes, to act as a binder. Aside from over pasta, one of the other ways I like to eat Chili is with Fritos Scoops, so I had to pick up a bag to scoop what didn’t fit in my pasta. That said, at the last minute, I decided to crush a few to sprinkle over the top of the manicotti for a bit of crunch.
NOTE: I used one box of Prince Manicotti, which contained 14 tubes. That was plenty for a small casserole for me and one for delivery elsewhere, leaving plenty of extra chili to go along with both, so you could easily use two boxes if you wanted to. I had a second box but wanted to make sure I had chili left to go with my Fritos.
2 lb ground beef
2 lg onions, chopped
1 T brown sugar
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans Delmonte Petite Cut Diced®Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapeños
2 cans tomato paste and equal parts water or beef broth
1/4 c Ketchup
6T + chili powder
2 heaping T cumin
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 cans beans of choice rinsed and drained (pinto, old northern, etc.)
Optional Garnish: Shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, Fritos
- Saute your onions and ground beef together until the onions are translucent and the beef just has a bit of pink left to it - you can start with a bit of oil if you want, but the beef will give off some fat, and the onions will give off some liquid, so it's not really necessary if you start at a moderate heat.
- Add the bouillon cubes and brown sugar and let those cook and break down for a minute or so before continuing. I added an additional bouillon cube here over my regular chili so the additional tomato paste wouldn't water down that beef flavor, so I have not included any salt in this recipe as the bouillon will provide plenty.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water (or broth), ketchup, chili powder, cumin, a healthy dose of black pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire.
- Gently stir in your rinsed/drained beans, and let simmer for a good hour or so, adjusting your seasonings to taste and adding beef broth or water if necessary.
- While your chili is simmering, cook your manicotti tubes in salted water to al dente, then transfer to a sheet of parchment, waxed paper, or even a clean dish towel, to prevent them from sticking together.
- When the chili is done, turn it down to cool off a bit. If you won't be using it all in the manicotti and want to add some cheese before filling your tubes, use a big slotted spoon to transfer a portion of the chili to another pot or bowl, and stir the cheese into that to melt.
- Spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of your casserole dish to prevent your pasta from sticking.
- Spoon or pipe the chili into your cooked manicotti and transfer to casserole dish - I found it very easy to fill them by holding the tube in one hand with the bottom opening against a small saucer, spooning in the chili, then using the spoon to lift from the bottom so the chili didn't fall out.
- Spoon a bit of sauce over the manicotti, top that with a layer of cheese, then cover completely with a layer of sauce to keep your pasta from drying out in the oven.
- Bake at 350 for 20-30" until bubbly and the cheese has melted.
- To serve, top with additional cheese if desired, a dollop of sour cream, some snipped fresh cilantro (or chive, scallion, etc.), and a sprinkling of crushed Fritos.