Taco Mac & Cheese – One Pot Meal?
Here is another one-pot meal to feed all the College Roomies. Did we come up with this one in College? No, but it fits the category. For college life I would put it as a “Necessity to know meal” and can be made with only a few ingredients. Ones that I hope you have around as that is how we created it originally. It uses one of, if not the most, versatile of ingredients required of “Bad for you College Cooking”, Mac & Cheese.
This was put together one night when we were out of tortillas but we still wanted a Mexican/Taco inspired night.
- Kraft Mac & Cheese, 2 Boxes
- 1 stick butter (for 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese)
- 1/2 cup milk (for 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese)
- Hamburger Meat, 1 lb (could substitute ground turkey, cheaper option, still tastes good)
- Taco Seasoning, enough for 1 lb of meat, 1/4 cup
- 1 Can Ranch Style Beans (optional)
- 1 Can Ro-Tel Original (optional)
- Garlic Powder, to taste (optional)
Not a lot of equipment needed to make this meal. It is not really a single pot to make meal. It is a single pot to server from though.
- Pot to make Mac & Cheese and combine mixtures
- Measuring Cups
- Large Spoon to stir/mix/serve
You should pretty much have all this in place around the kitchen. The pot I used actually has a strainer lid so I am able to drain the water off and then make the mac & cheese directly in the pot.
So start off by getting the meat browning and a pot of water on to boil for the Mac & Cheese. You should be able to get the meat mixture made in the time it takes to heat the water up and cook the noodles. This is assuming that you are not starting with a frozen chuck of meat. If the meat is frozen you may want to start cooking the Mac & Cheese after you get the meat almost browned.
After browning the meat, add the spices and cans of Ro-Tel & Beans. For me it is 1/4 cup of Taco Seasoning and Garlic Powder to taste. If I was not adding any Ro-Tel or Ranch Beans I would add 2/3 cup of water and then cook it down until the water is gone. Since I did add both cans of optional ingredients to the mix this time, liquid from the cans is used to hydrate the spices added. So instead of adding 2/3rds of a cup of water, as called for by the Taco Seasoning, I added 1/4 cup of water. I then turned up the heat to cook off the liquid.
While the liquid is cooking off of the meat mixture finish up cooking and making the Mac & Cheese as instructed on the boxes. Remember you are making a double batch, so add the correct amount of butter and milk as two boxes call for. If you are using a different type of Mac & Cheese then just follow those instructions.
Once the liquid has cooked off of the meat, and the Mac and Cheese has been prepared, combine the two mixtures and stir. After fully mixed it is time to eat. We typically serve this up in individual bowls scooped straight from the pot. This keeps the spirit of college cooking alive by keeping the dishes used at a minimum.
You totally do not need to have any optional sides with this. If you do want something to go with it then I would suggest the following:
- Ranch Style Beans or Baked Beans (Don’t add them to the mix above and just keep as side)
- Salad, probably need to balance off a meal with veggies
- Chips & Salsa
- Queso & Chips
As for optional ingredients, besides those listed above, I would go with the following:
- Ground Turkey, We have used this instead of hamburger with minimal taste change.
- Crushed Red Pepper, added to meat after browning
- Fresh Garlic, cooked with the meat
- Sautéed Onion or Cooked with the meat
Here are some suggestions for toppings:
- Sliced Jalapeños
- Diced Onions
- Cheese (can never have enough)
- Hot Sauce of your choice
As you can see, I did add some more cheese on this day.
Summing it up
You can make this quickly and server it up to the family or roomies. We made this the first few times using only the Mac & Cheese and Taco Meat. My roomies still prefer it that way. For me I like it with everything added in. So let us know what you like and any other ingredients you think would go well with this mixture. If you are the college kid and we have given you a new idea we hope you like it. So Relax, Don’t Worry and have ABigBeer.
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