Dicing the cheese in the body of this dish gives you delicious little pools of surprise. I use my homemade chili in this casserole, but two15oz. cans may be substituted.
8 oz elbow macaroni, (2 cups)
4 cups homemade chili
8 oz Monterey Jack, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly mist a 2 to 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large pot of salted water, cook the macaroni for 1 minute less than the directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the macaroni and return to the pan.
3. While the macaroni is cooking, gently heat the chili until it is warm, but not hot. Stir 2 cups of the chili into the macaroni along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
4. Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you dice half of the cheese into 1/2 inch pieces, then quickly stir the cheese into the macaroni..
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining chili, cover, and bake 30 minutes.
6. While the casserole is baking, shred the remaining cheese.
7. Remove the casserole from the oven and check the moisture. If the casserole seems dry, drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water over the top, cover, and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.
8. Top the casserole with the shredded cheese and continue baking, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
9. Let stand a few minutes before serving.