Chili-Mac: Gluten-Free

I love chili. When my daughter was home sick with a stomach bug, I took the opportunity to break out the chili fixin's for myself.

Weird thinking, I know, but when there is a bonus day off from work (not saying her being sick was a bonus, mind you), I feel inclined to go big with my cooking. She doesn't eat chili and said the cooking smells wouldn't bother her, so I figured since I had to make really bland stuff for her to eat, I'd make myself something extra spicy. I also made oven-roasted jalapeno peppers (recipe will be appearing shortly, needs some adjustments...). Clearly, I was not having any of the bland food myself.

For years now, I've been using a mix for the spices, from Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Chili Kit, which I highly recommend. There are no chemicals or weird fake-foods in the box, just cayenne pepper, corn masa flour, cumin, garlic, ground chili peppers, onion, oregano, paprika, salt. It's just easier to have everything put together for me, especially since I may not have all the ingredients on hand, most importantly, the corn masa which you use towards the end of cooking to thicken the chili.

I'd like to talk about chili-mac now. It's not a dish I grew up with. Maybe it did exist in NY, but it never made its way to me. The first time I encountered it, I was in southern Illinois with my then in-laws at Steak 'n Shake. It seemed to me like an ingenious combination. Why not use pasta as your vehicle of choice for chili? It's a pretty good combination of textures, and the cheese just sinks into the pasta every so nicely.

While I cooked the chili, I looked around for some corn tortillas to serve it with, only to come up empty. Instead, I chose a rice pasta as my base for the chili, making this the first time I've made chili-mac in my own kitchen. There is no cheese in this version, as I'm primarily dairy-free (except for butter, can't leave that behind), but you should feel free to add some nice sharp cheddar and maybe even some sour cream to finish off this great dish.

Gluten-free Chili-Mac



  1. Heat a large non-reactive pot over high heat.
  2. Add the olive oil and half of the minced shallots.
  3. Cook for 1 minutes. Add the ground meat.
  4. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Drain the fat from the pan.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, water and spices.
  7. Cook for ten minutes. Add the drained black beans.
  8. Slightly cover the pot. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. While the chili is cooking, take the masa flour and mix with 1/3 cup warm water.
  10. Add to the chili to thicken it. Make sure the corn masa flour is not clumping in the chili, break it up with a fork as you stir it into the mix.
  11. Cook for five more minutes.
  12. Place the prepared pasta into individual serving bowls.
  13. Top with chili (and cheese, if you're into that).
  14. Serve and enjoy!