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Pasta under pressure: Cheater's Cincinnati-style chili

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Pasta meals are generally simple, but too often involve using several pots and pans, making clean up something dreadful. Cooking should be fun, and the pressure cooker allows pasta dishes to be one-pot meals since the pasta can be cooked with the sauce ingredients.

Cincinnati-style chili is unique in that macaroni is added to a chili base. When the chili is served, each dish is topped with shredded sharp cheddar. Using a pressure cooker rather than a slow cooker or standard stock pot shortens cooking time from hours to minutes.

A few additional cheats include using a packaged frozen pepper-onion blend and a can of diced tomatoes and chilis. This eliminates much of the prep time as well as condensing the ingredients list. And yes, it really does call for 2 tablespoons of chili powder; even with the lid of the pressure cooker ratcheted down tight, the aroma of this chili will fill the kitchen.

Cheater's Cincinnati-Style Chili
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 c. water
1 can (28 oz) Rotel diced tomatoes and chilis
1 c. Kroger Three Pepper and Onion Blend, slightly thawed
3 garlic cloves OR 1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 c. (8 oz) macaroni
1 can (15 oz) red beans (optional)
1 c. frozen sweet corn kernals (optional)
shredded Cheddar cheese

Place 1 tbsp. vegetable oil into the pressure cooker pot; heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the Three Pepper and Onion blend and heat until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic cloves, chili powder and ground beef. Heat until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add water, Rotel diced tomatoes and macaroni. Stir until macaroni is covered with water. Place lid on cooker and set pressure gauge to "high." As soon as the cooker reaches the correct pressure, lower heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; allow pressure to subside for 15 minutes. Unlock lid and open. Add beans and corn, if desired, and simmer an additional 5 minutes until heated through.

Ladle chili into serving dishes; top each with shredded Cheddar cheese. Makes 8 servings.

NOTE: This chili has very little liquid because the macaroni absorbs most of what is added.

If you're a fresh ingredient purist (or if you have overages in your garden), substitute one onion and one green pepper, both diced, for the frozen pepper-onion blend.

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