Saturday, 16 January 2016

Wagon Wheel-Chili Skillet [What's Cooking: Festive '12]

Ok, I had to make a substitution with this recipe from Kraft's 2012 What's Cooking edition, and while it makes no difference in terms of how the recipe comes together, it does make the name of the recipe moot. Let's just pretend the "wagon wheel" refers to the "quasi-western" flavours, and not for the pasta shape.

Cookbook Recipe:

Yeah, ground beef costs that much here.


  • 1 lb (450g) extra lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (they didn't specify what kind, so I went for an Anaheim)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup salsa (again, they didn't specify heat level, so I went for my default - hot)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cups wagon wheel pasta, uncooked (I genuinely could not find wagon wheel pasta. I haven't seen it in grocery stores anywhere in years - so I went with penne because it's still thick and shaped pasta)
  • 1/4 cup Cheez Whiz Jalapeno Tex Mex Cheese Spread (the mandatory branded ingredient here, but at least it's a unique one.)

Following the cookbook recipe exactly:

1. Cook the pasta as directed, but without salt.

2. Brown the meat, onions, and garlic in a large skillet on medium.

3. Stir in the pepper (the recipe says "peppers" but there's only one?), corn, salsa, and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer on medium-low for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

I don't think it's actually legal to call Cheez Whiz "cheese" in Canada.
4. Remove from heat, stir in the Cheez Whiz (which is laughably called "cheese" in the recipe) until melted. Stir in the pasta.

The Outcome:

This is definitely pretty good - it's warm and filling, very hearty for the winter. However, it feels like it's missing something, something to make it really zing. It's not very spicy, despite using hot salsa (the recipe is specifically meant for the larger Canadian market, so that's not surprising). I should have grabbed a Serrano for my "green pepper". I can't really put my finger on what this recipe needs - something to offset the very slight cloying touch of Cheez Whiz. It's still pretty tasty, though, and it seems like the kind of thing that would go down really well at a potluck or with children.

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