Cold Weather Chili

It seems that each part of the country has particular likes and dislikes when it comes to Chili. Some like it hot, some do not. Some like beans, some do not. Some like it sweet, some savory. I say this because you need to find your own "style" when it comes to chili according to what you and your family prefer. This is my style. Less meat, more vegetables. A bit of heat, but only enough to remind you that it's Chili. I'll call it New England Style Chili.

NEW ENGLAND STYLE CHILI


2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 green peppers, roughly chopped
5-6 stalks celery, roughly chopped, leaves included
4-5 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or 2 tsp minced garlic from jar)
2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable or canola oil)
1 lb. ground beef, (85% lean is good)
3 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 can (3 oz?) chopped green chilis such as "Old El Paso"
3 16 oz cans beans (kidney, black, chili, soy or any combination)
2 cups beef broth (or use 2 beef bouillion cubes and 2 cups water)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper


Preparation:
Peel and chop all vegetables. Open cans of tomatoes. Open cans of beans and place beans in a colander and rinse (unless they are canned in chili sauce). Get out all spices and sugar.

Green pepper, onion, celery

Leeks and carrots (both optional)

Options:
Despite going grocery shopping this morning (sigh), I had only one small green pepper to add to my chili. I opted to use chopped washed leeks, which will add a nice onion flavor. I also added a small can of diced green chilis and about 2 cups of diced turkey (leftover from Thanksgiving and needed to be used up NOW) in addition to the ingredients listed above.

DIRECTIONS:

Add oil to LARGE stockpot and, once oil is hot, add chopped vegetables, including garlic. Let cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
Add ground beef, breaking meat "clumps" up with spoon as best you can. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook (and break meat up) until all pink of meat is gone.


Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth (if using bouillon, dissolve 2 beef bouillon cubes in 2 cups boiling water before adding to pot). Stir well. Maintain heat so mixture soon comes to a very low boil - or simmer. (Steam will be coming from the top and you will see occasional bubbles in the mixture. You do not want it so hot it maintains a constant bubbly boil.)


Add spices (oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper) - you might want to try half the quantity of what I've stated in the recipe to start, then adjust to your own personal taste after the chili has been cooking for an hour or so. Do NOT add any spice with heat yet! The longer "hot" spices simmer, the hotter they get.

Loosely cover pot (leave about a one-quarter to one-half inch space between cover and pot on one side), adjust heat (probably down) to maintain simmer, and let mixture simmer for at least 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. When you stir, use a spoon long enough to get down to the bottom of the pot (or you'll have burned chili on the bottom, which will give an overall burned flavor to the rest).

Loosely cover pot, simmer 90 minutes at least.

Chili is one of those dishes that requires a long, slow simmer time to develop all the flavors. Don't be in a hurry!


After 90 minutes (or 2 hours or 3 hours), it's time to add in the beans.

You want to use canned beans, not dry beans in a bag. You can use one or a mixture of types of beans. In this batch I used kidney beans, white northern beans, and a can of "chili beans in sauce" because that's what I had in the pantry. I also like to use black beans and soy beans (soy beans take on the flavor of whatever they're being cooked with). If you're using any bean NOT labelled "in chili sauce" or "for chili", you want to put the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water to get rid of the thick bean "juice" that comes in the can. This also eliminates some of the high sodium found in canned products. You can use less or more beans, depending on how you like your Chili.

After adding the beans, add in the sugar, and give it all a good stir. Return the cover (loosely!) and let simmer for at least another hour. Again, stir every 15 minutes or so -- right down to the bottom of the pan.

NOTE: You add the sugar to the chili  because tomatoes have a very high acid content and, despite being a "sweet" vegetable (fruit, actually), the high acid can be overpowering. You don't want to use a lot of sugar because then the sugar will overpower the tomato flavor! Rule of thumb is 1 tsp. of sugar per 28 oz can of tomatoes. This works in spaghetti sauce as well.

It's taste time. Put a spoonful of the chili mixture in a bowl and let it cool slightly. You can't determine flavors if your mouth and tongue is being burned! Add more spices to your taste. I personally like quite a lot of Cumin. Cumin is the spice you smell when you eat Tacos at a restaurant. It's got a bit of a smoky flavor to it. This, combined with the traditional chili powder and oregano, give chili it's chili flavor! If you like more "heat" to your chili, add a FEW drops of hot sauce, or 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper or 1 tsp of ground red pepper flakes. Start slow, because you can always add more, but it's very difficult to take that "heat" out.

Once you get your flavors where you want them, let the mixture simmer for another 30 minutes or so.


Today, I served our chili with Cheeze-It crackers and sour cream. I normally serve it with grated cheddar cheese but I didn't pick any up at the store because I thought we had some -- turns out we didn't. I thought the crackers would give the dish some crunch and some cheese flavoring - and I was right. When my husband tried this dish, he asked why it took me 30 years to find out Cheeze-Itz are the perfect topping for Chili!

1 comment:

beebee said...

your chilli sounds great. I have to make some next week! I love chilli in the winter!