Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Yes, Actually, I DO Get A Bit Obsessive" Chili

When I was sevenish, I judged a chili contest at Art Park.

And, being sevenish, I was not that into spicy, so I (along with most of the other judges, who were all adults) voted for the non-spicy, "Ridiculously Easy Chili". And since it was, indeed, easy, and it was pretty tasty, that became our family's standard chili recipe. Plus, it made a great breakfast choice for my reactively-hypoglycemic little self, who could barely make it to school on a bowl of cheerios.

My mom has since migrated to a new recipe, her "We're All Adults Now" Chili. I will admit, I have yet to try this.

So one day, I bought a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a deviled eggs recipe (which I still haven't tried), and I got a taste for chili, which hijacked my one little can. So a new dish - and a new obsession - was born.

I make this a few times a year, but when I do, one batch is not enough. I will eat it for two or three meals a day for two weeks straight. This is decidedly husband-friendly, but mine doesn't usually get any of it.

Like most of my recipes, the amounts are estimated and not that important anyway. Adjust it to suit yourself. :)


"Yes, Actually, I DO Get a Bit Obsessive" Chili
Serves 4-8, depending on the size of your eyes and/or stomach.

INGREDIENTS:

Chili:

  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans or one 15-oz can, rinsed and drained

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • Olive oil (about 1 Tbsp)

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef (mine comes from the nice people at Chestnut Farms)

  • 2 cups V8-style vegetable juice (sounds gross, but gives it a fuller flavor than just using tomatoes. The Whole Foods 365 brand organic stuff is great)

  • 1 can tomato paste (again, I think the organic stuff tastes better)

  • 1 big can of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, whatever (you can skip this if you're using V8, but I like little chunks of tomato in my chili)

  • 2-5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (depending on how spicey you like it)

  • A lot of cumin (I'm guessing 1.5-2 tsp)

  • A lot of garlic powder (about 1 tsp)

  • A generous shake of onion powder (about 1/2 tsp)

  • A teeny shake of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp)

  • Enough beef stock to thin the chili to the desired thickness (optional)

  • Salt to taste



Optional Accompaniments:

  • Sour Cream

  • Shredded Cheese: monterey jack, colby, cheddar, etc.

  • Corn Chips (the blue ones are fun, but the yellow ones look the nicest)

  • Fresh Corn Kernels




INSTRUCTIONS:

If you are using dried beans, cover them with water and leave them to soak overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, and simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft and just begin to caramelize. (Don't rush this step; the chili just doesn't taste right if the onions are still crunchy.) Add the ground beef, and sauté until browned.

In a separate bowl, mix the V8 juice and tomato paste thoroughly.
(This seems pointless, but it's hard to mix in the tomato paste otherwise.)

Add the tomato paste to the meat mixture. Add the spices, beans, and the chipotles and their sauce, and stir to mix. If the chili is thicker than you'd like, thin with beef broth. Reduce heat to medium/low, and simmer until the flavors are well-blended, about 45-60 minutes. Remove the chipotles (trust me on this - don't skip this step!) If you can resist, store the chili in the fridge overnight and reheat; it's better on the second day!

Salt to taste, but keep in mind that most corn chips are pretty salty, so go a little easier than you would normally.

Serve in bowls, and top with whatever appeals to you: cheese, sour cream, corn chips, fresh corn kernels, etc. Go easy on the portions to start: this is VERY filling, especially once you add toppings. You can always have seconds. :)


WINE PAIRING:

I had this with a California Zinfandel (RED Zinfandel, not white, thank you very much!), and it was a great match. It wasn't tannic or astringent enough to taste harsh with the spice, and it had big round fruit flavors that meshed with the sweetness of the tomato and really brought out the nice round richness of the chilis.

I haven't tried it, but this might just work with a dry, sparkling rosé. Especially outside at a picnic with a nice fresh salad.