2cupsshredded cheddar or cheddar Jack cheesedivided
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350F.
Heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat.
Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
Remove ground beef to a plate, and drain any remaining fat from the skillet.
Add the tablespoon of oil to the now-empty skillet, and heat until shimmering.
Add the onion and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Turn heat to medium-low.
Add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.
Return the beef to the pan, and stir in along with the beans.
Cook for 2 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the salsa and 3/4 cup of the cheese.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1 ¼ cups cheese.
Bake until the cheese is melted and casserole is heated through, about 15-20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Ground beef: I like to use 90% lean ground beef in this recipe. You can use ground beef that is leaner (or less lean) if you prefer. Also, feel free to sub ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the ground beef.
Beans: Other good choices are dark red kidney beans or pinto beans. If you're looking for a way to stretch this casserole, feel free to add a second can of beans.
Chili powder: I like to use ancho chili powder because of its smoky flavor. However, you can use regular chili powder instead.
Salsa: Pick a tomato based salsa that you like. You can use mild, medium, or hot.
Cheese: Feel free to use a little more or less cheese to taste. Also, other shredded cheese blends, like fiesta or Mexican, work well, too.
Skillet: If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, carefully transfer the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch casserole dish after step 11.
Spicy: The casserole is mild. To give it more heat, increase the amount of chili powder, use medium or hot salsa, or both.
How to freeze: To freeze this casserole, prepare through step 11. Transfer to an oven and freezer-safe casserole dish. I like to use a disposable aluminum pan. Let it cool to room temperature. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the casserole, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To cook, thaw in fridge overnight. You may find that you need to increase the baking time. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top in the last 15 minutes of baking.