Chili is one of those dishes that does well when making double or triple batches. 

Plus you can freeze your leftover chili - and make a casserole like this to serve to your family, your friends or take to a potluck!

And - I think it’s important to mention how much it could mean to a family in need - or a family that perhaps just added a  baby to their household - or just for a friend to give her a day off from cooking ...

Making someone a hearty casserole like this one could mean more to them than any store-bought gift.  We should never lose sight of what we can do to brighten a day for someone else - and in this economy - food can be something very much appreciated (and needed)!

And - here’s a thought to keep in mind ... With the holidays right around the corner ... and all the crazy activities and schedules that surround this time of year - it’s a good idea to have dishes like this - ones that you can make in advance - ones that you can use to re-purpose leftovers ... and ones that can feed an army and keep them full for hours on end!  So when you make your next batch of chili - think ahead to your meal needs and plan accordingly - you’ll feel organized and less stressed and enjoy yourself!

Ok ...

It should also be mentioned that thisWhite Sauce (Béchamel) & Cheese Sauce (Mornay Sauce) are universal sauces that can be built upon in so many ways - so you can vary them however you please for other dishes.  Casseroles are a great way to stretch your grocery budget - they help you create something very delicious using something leftover in the fridge!  Win-win!!

Here’s how I put this casserole together ...

If you are baking the Chili Mac right away - Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Then ...

Start by making your Cheese Sauce (Mornay Sauce according to my Joy of Cooking) ... It’s really just a White Sauce (Béchamel) with shredded cheese stirred in!

You’ll need:

  1. -2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

  2. -2 Tablespoons butter

  3. -1 cup milk

  4. -4 oz block of cheese (when grated it will be a little over 1 1/2 cups) - I used sharp cheddar cheese

Here’s how:

Start by making a Roux:

Over medium-low heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.

Then whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Keep whisking to avoid any lumps.  Cook for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.

Then turn your Roux into a White Sauce (Béchamel) ...

Pull the saucepan off the heat and slowly whisk in the 1 cup of milk.

Return the pan to the heat and bring it up to a simmer; whisking constantly to avoid any lumps.  It will take a couple of minutes to thicken.

Then turn your White Sauce (Béchamel) into a Cheese Sauce (Mornay Sauce) ...

Once the sauce is smooth and thick - add in your 1 1/2 cups (or slightly more) shredded cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth - then remove from heat to avoid the cheese getting stringy.  Add salt and any other spices to taste.

Once the cheese sauce is completed ... you’ll need some cooked macaroni noodles. 

I use 1 cup of uncooked macaroni.  Cook the pasta a minute or two less than the package directions so that the noodles don’t get mushy when baking the Chili Mac.

And of course - you’ll need your leftover chili.  I use 2 cups of leftover chili.

Combine the Cheese Sauce, chili and cooked, drained (but not rinsed) macaroni in a large mixing bowl.  I usually add a little more shredded cheese to taste. 

I also sometimes add in a couple of tablespoons of seasoned sour cream - just sour cream mixed with a little chili powder and scallions (this is usually left over from topping the chili in the first meal and it’s optional).

Then spray a baking dish (8 x 8) with non-stick cooking spray.

And - then spread half of the Chili Mac over the bottom of the casserole dish.

Then top the layer with more shredded cheese - or sometimes I use slices of American cheese.  And for a super cheesy casserole - use both!

Then spread the remaining half of the Chili Mac over the cheese layer.

And of course --- top with more shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until bubbly and cheesy.  About 30 - 40 minutes.

If this is dinner or a weekend lunch ... serve with a green salad and toasted bread! 

OH ... this is important ... Once the casserole is baked - allow it to rest for 5 - 10 minutes or so ... otherwise when you cut into it - it will be hot and the sauce will spread everywhere.  Not that I mind this - after all, isn’t that what the toasted bread is for?  But if you want it to look prettier ... just wait a few minutes before diving in.

For the toasted bread ... I take slices of bread - I often use bread from my freezer - you can just spread softened butter on the frozen bread slices - and place them in the oven, along with the Chili Mac, for about 8 - 10 minutes. 

Tip - when you buy bread from the bakery section of the store, it has a shorter shelf life than white sandwich bread - if you don’t use it before it goes stale - place the bread into the freezer - you can toast it from frozen or allow it to come to room temperature and use it as you please - even for breadcrumbs.

If you make this dish ahead of time - refrigerate covered, then add a few extra minutes to your baking time.