Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pasta with a Twist


If you're a fan of Pinterest, you've seen many versions of Mexican Stuffed Shells.  And, of course, I had to do my own. Mine is full of taco meat, corn, cream cheese, and it's covered with my most favorite enchilada sauce, chili gravy.  If you haven't read my posts before on chili gravy, it's the brown sauce used in most Tex-Mex restaurants to cover enchiladas.

I'll give you some history on this chili gravy.  A few years ago, my husband challenged me, as he does many times, to find the best enchilada sauce ever, one like you would find in any Tex-Mex restaurant.  So I searched and experimented and searched some more, and I came across a recipe from a man named Robb Walsh.  One of his books is called "The Tex-Mex Cookbook."  It is rich with the history of Mexican immigrants coming to Texas and the melding of flavors between the two to become what is now Tex-Mex cuisine.  If you're a Tex-Mex fan, you should check out that book.

Anywho, the flavors of this pasta are so good and it's really not that hard to put together.  And it's darn tasty!

TACO STUFFED SHELLS
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 packet of taco seasoning
3/4 C water
1 C salsa
1 lb large pasta shells
1 C frozen corn
One 4-ounce can green chilies
2 C shredded Cheddar cheese

FOR THE CHILI GRAVY:
1/4 C lard
1/4 C flour
2 C chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 T chili powder

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet to medium high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil and cook the onion until tender.  Add in the ground beef and cook and brown until done.  Drain if necessary.  Add in the taco seasoning and water and cook until the sauce is reduced.  Add in the garlic, cream cheese, and salsa.  Cook and stir until the cream cheese is melted and the meat sauce is well combined.  Stir in the corn and green chilies and remove from heat.

For the chili gravy, melt the lard in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook about a minute.  Whisk in the chicken stock quickly to prevent lumps.  Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk and cook until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the broiler.  Spoon half of the chili gravy into a 9 x 13 pan.  Spoon some of the filling into all of the shells and place them in the pan.  Spread the rest of the chili gravy over the top and top with the cheese.  Put the shells under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.

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