shredded cheeseParmesan or cheddar are both good choices.
Heat a 10-inch Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven or large, heavy skillet on stovetop over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add cut up bacon and cook, stirring frequently until bacon pieces are crispy. Turn off heat, remove bacon from pan and set aside.
Return heat under pan to medium and add chopped onion to hot bacon fat. Sauté onion until it begins to become translucent, 3-4 minutes.
Add ground beef (or other ground protein). Stir and cook until browned.
OPTIONAL STEP: Use a colander to drain fat from mixture, and then return it to pan. If you choose to do this step, DO NOT RINSE!
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock, salt, garlic salt, and paprika and bring to a simmer.
Stir in elbow macaroni. It should be completely submerged in mixture. (If the mixture looks too dry or if too much macaroni is sticking out of the liquid, add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water.)
Simmer, stirring frequently, until macaroni is just barely al dente: about 7-8 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, give it one good stir, and let set for about 10 minutes. (The resting time allows the flavors to blend and the macaroni to finish cooking on its own. This method will help you avoid overcooking the macaroni.)
Stir reserved bacon pieces back in. Taste and season again before serving.
Ground Beef - You can use the ground protein of your choice. I often make this with ground turkey or ground chicken Italian sausage with great results.
Canned tomatoes - I almost always use Petite Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano.
Dried Basil & Oregano - If I use the aforementioned canned tomatoes, I don't usually add as much dried seasoning.
Hot Sauce - This is Totally Optional! Mom never used this, by we like to add a little kick to our chili mac.
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