Sunday, February 24, 2013

A weekend for chili

Like most normal Americans, I like a good bowl of chili in the winter. And like many people I’m pretty particular about how it is made. There are so many ways to make chili – Texas style; Cincinnati style; with pasta, without pasta; with beans, without beans; soupy or thick and chunky; served with peanut butter sandwiches, chips, sour cream, etc. You get the idea. Growing up my family liked macaroni in the chili, my college boyfriend HAD TO HAVE PB sandwiches with his, and my ex-husband liked his without beans and over spaghetti (he’s from the Cincy area).  
 Here’s how I want my chili: thick, with lots of meat and beans, no pasta (I think it gets mushy), with tortilla (or corn) chips on the side. I made some with quinoa in it once and that wasn’t too bad. I’m not as particular about the seasonings in the chili – texture is paramount to me. I generally like a slightly sweet, spicy chili, but that can be adjusted easily by each person before eating.
 I made a good one yesterday in the crockpot. I must record this for posterity. I can’t really make this chili during the week because it takes a few hours in the crockpot, but it’s not a “set it and forget it” recipe.

Nicki’s Weekend Chili
1lb of ground meat
1 12-oz bag of frozen mire poix
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans of chili beans – I used Kuner’s  no salt added
1 15-oz can fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes
1 cup sweet potato puree
2 Tbsp molasses
4 Tbsp chili powder, more to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
Himalayan salt, to taste

I used Moody Meat’s lead ground beef and put that in the crockpot with the mire poix, red bell pepper and garlic. I probably could have put in another half to full pound of meat and I would have loved it, but I am trying cut back on meat consumption
Mire poix is a convenient shortcut, but it is not required. If you can’t find mire poix (I find it at Kroger in the frozen veggie section), it is simply diced onion, celery and green bell pepper – a vegetable mixture used frequently in Cajun dishes – I would estimate it is about 1 onion, 2 stalks of celery and about ½ green bell pepper, diced.
I let the ground beef cook with the veggies on high for about two hours, stirring and breaking up the meat about every 30 minutes.
Then I mixed in the tomato sauce, molasses, chili powder and cumin. If you prefer, use your favorite chili seasoning packet in place of the spices.
Next came the cans of beans and tomatoes. I drained the tomatoes, but that isn’t necessary if you won’t feel like it.
Lastly, I took a can of sweet potatoes, drained them and pureed them in my Ninja and added about a cup of sweet potato puree. It added some thickness and sweetness to the chili.
I let everything simmer another two hours on high. Then, and this is important in my world, I let my chili sit in the fridge overnight before eating it. I’m in the chili-is-always-better-the-second-day camp.

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