Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Simple Beef Chili

It's been cold and dreary for the past couple of days in my neck of the woods. Days like these call for comfort food. Something hearty, delicious and easy to make. So I pulled out my Dutch oven and got to work preparing a family favorite-beef chili. My first encounter with chili was at a pot-luck we had at my first job here in the US. I was so intrigued by the dish that I asked for the recipe and I've been using it ever since. For those who do not know, chili is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually beef), tomatoes, beans and other seasonings. Variations to this dish may be due to geography or personal preference and may involve the use of different meats (e.g ground chicken or turkey) and seasonings. Either way, it is delicious! Here's how to make it...

Serving Size: Serves 8-10 comfortably.

-Heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid OR Dutch oven (I used a cast-iron Dutch oven).

-1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef (I used 85% lean, 15% fat).
-3 cups tomato juice.
-2 10 Oz. Cans diced tomatoes in green chillies.
-1 15.5 Oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
-1 15.5 Oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed.
-1 red bell pepper, cubed (capsicum).
-1 small onion, finely diced.
-2 tablespoons chili powder.
-2 tablespoons ground oregano.
-1 teaspoon garlic powder.
-1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional).
-2 tablespoons olive oil.
-1 tablespoon tomato paste.

Toppers (optional):
-Sour cream, Creme fraiche or Creme anglais.
-Shredded cheese of your choice.
-Fritos chips or any kind of crunchy, savory chips.

Instructions for cooking the chili:
-In a blender cup, add the tomato juice, the 2 cans of diced tomatoes in green chillies and the tomato paste. Purée until smooth. Set aside.                                                                                                                                                                    
-In your saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.
-Add in the onions and cook until transparent, stirring frequently.
-Add the red bell pepper (capsicum) and stir. Cook for at least 3 minutes.
-Add the ground beef and stir. Cook until there's no more pink showing on the meat and the meat has crumbled down.
-Add the garlic powder, cumin powder, chilli powder, oregano. Stir.
-Add the kidney and pinto beans and stir gently in order not to break the beans.
-Pour in the puréed tomatoes and stir.
-Taste for salt.
-Place a wooden spoon over the edge of your saucepan and balance the lid over the spoon and the rim of the pan, leaving a little space for the steam to escape (see video).
-Reduce heat to medium-low and let the chilli simmer for 2 1/2-3hrs until the sauce has reduced by half and the beans are nice and tender. Excuse the steam in the shot below, but your finished chili should look something like this...
Enjoy the aroma of the cooking chilli that will fill your house as you eagerly wait to serve it up.
Serving Suggestions: I serve mine up in a bowl, sprinkle some shredded cheese up over it, sit a dollop of sour cream over the cheese and add a sprinkle of barbecue flavored Fritos. I enjoy this with some of my sweet, fluffy cornbread (see post). The spiciness of this chilli and the sweetness of the cornbread are a perfect pairing. The sour cream helps to cool down those chillis on the pallete and the Fritos add a textural interest to this dish. You can also serve this over a warm bowl of white rice. You're welcome :)) !!