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Posts Tagged ‘best chili in town’

vegetable-chili

 

Everybody seems to have a favorite chili recipe, but I generally just wing it.  I do from time to time stick to my mom’s method (see a post from November 13, 2012) but as often as not I do some type of vegetarian chili.  Since the weather had cooled and I had a mess of cooked red beans on hand, I decided it was going to be easy to put dinner together.  I sautéed a big chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic in a little canola oil.  I added a large can of plum tomatoes (that I had squished), a medium can of tomato puree, a couple of dollops of tomato paste along with 4 chopped carrots, 2 chopped zucchini, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 minced jalapeño, and some mushrooms that were needing to be cooked.  To be honest the additions were based solely on what I had on hand.  Seasoned the mix with a good amount of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes and, of course, salt and pepper.  Had I had some winter squash or sweet potatoes on hand I would have added either of those also.   I added the cooking liquid from the beans and then let the vegetable mix cook for a while before adding the cooked beans as they were already pretty soft and didn’t really need much more cooking.  I baked some corn muffins, quickly tossed a green salad, and Eh! Voila! dinner was on the table and we had lunch ready to go to our besties at Loupe Digital.

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Since the weather has cooled down – ranging from the high 40s to 50s, braises, stews, and soups have come to mind.  The other day Steve suggested some chili – not the Texas kind said he, but the kind with chunks of ground meat.  Told him he had to wait a day ‘cause I would have to soak some beans before I could put the chili together.  I always have dried beans on hand, usually from Rancho Gordo (www.ranchogordo.com), but they do take some extra time to soak so you can’t whip up a bowl of red in a few.  (Although if you are really desperate you can use canned beans and have a pot going pretty darned quick).  Lots of chefs disagree about the soaking part and boil dried beans for an hour and then proceed with a recipe.  I do not like firm beans, so I follow the old rule of soaking in cool water for at least 8 hours.

So, I soaked a pound of pinto beans overnight and then got the pot going the next morning.  I decided I would make the same chili I had seen my mom make hundreds of times – rich, filling, and aromatic.  Here’s what I did.

Drained the beans of their soaking water and then added enough cold water to cover them by at least 2½ inches.  Placed over high heat and brought to a boil; then, lowered the heat and kept them simmering while I tended to the other ingredients.

Using a one of my great nonstick Scanpan frying pans, I sautéed about 2 pounds of lean ground beef (You can also use ground pork, chicken, or turkey or big chunks of beef stew meat.  I’m not a fan of lamb chili, but if you like the flavors, why not?) along with a large diced onion, about half a head of chopped garlic cloves, and one jalapeño chile.  (If you like, you can also add some chopped bell pepper to the mix).  The pan was a little too full so it took a bit of time to get the meat browned and most of the liquid to evaporate.  This was good because it gave the beans some time to soften slightly.  I added the meat to the simmering beans along with a lot of seasoned chili powder, ground cumin, and ground pure chile powder along with smaller amounts of cayenne, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.  All of these should always be done to taste – I like mucho heat and lots of seasoning, but you don’t have to agree with me.  I let the mix simmer for about 30 minutes and then I added one large can of tomato puree and one large can of diced tomatoes along with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.  Seasoned with salt and black pepper and let the whole mess simmer for another hour or so.  Then, I took the pan off the heat and let the mix cool down before putting it back on the heat to get very hot for dinner.

I always serve chili with some diced sweet onion on top – I love the contrast of the crisp, cool sweetness with the flaming hot chili.

 

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