It’s getting chili

Posted by Anita on 12.14.08 10:39 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Between finishing up our Christmas shopping, getting our prize basket ready for Menu for Hope V, dealing with a rather scary veterinary emergency, and nailing down a few last details for our upcoming vacation, things have been a little chaotic around here. This morning as I sat down to write, I looked up in panic and realized that I had only photographed a single meal this week.

Luckily, it was our favorite chili, which — even though we eat it pretty much all the time — I’ve never blogged about. We love it because, unlike other chili recipes that we’ve been known to make, this one’s highly adaptable. Like our bolognese sauce and sloppy joes, it’s another one of the recipes that we make in giant batches and freeze for weeknight dinners. If we’re using it to make chilidogs — which we often do — we’ll leave the beans out and simmer it down until it’s all meaty and thick. If we’re eating it on its own, we’ll add some Rancho Gordo beans, and thin it down a little with a few cubes of frozen chicken stock.

We almost always garnish it with cheese, sour cream, and chopped onions, but if you happen to be lucky enough to have a strip of crispy bacon or a late-season avocado lurking in your fridge, either one makes a tasty and pretty addition. But this chili’s equally delicious when served all on its own, preferably with a pan of homemade cornbread and sweet butter. (We just discovered that Giustos, the local outfit that makes the all-purpose flour we buy, also sells locally milled cornmeal and polenta, which increases our Dark Days meal options significantly.)

Dark Days Eat Local ChallengeAdaptable Chili
- loosely inspired by ‘Venison Chile with Red Beans’
from Staff Meals at Chanterelle

3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1/2-in inch cubes
(or substitute coarse-ground beef)
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minces
1 tsp ground ancho chile
1 tsp ground pasilla chile
1 tsp Rancho Gordo ground red chile
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock or unsalted broth
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 cups cooked heirloom beans, drained (see note)
shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, bacon, and/or diced avocado, for garnish

Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 1/8 inch into a large heavy Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, add only enough meat to cover the bottom of the pan without crowding. Brown well on all sides, turning with tongs. As the pieces brown, transfer to a bowl and continue with more meat in batches.

When meat is all browned, reduce heat to medium-low. Drain the accumulated oil from the bowl back into the pan; add the onion and garlic, and sweat until transluscent. Return the browned meat to the pan, then add the chile powders and spices. Stir well to coat the mat, then add the stock, tomato, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the meat is tender — 2 to 2-1/2 hours — stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans, if using, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Note: If freezing for later use, the chili takes up less space without the beans, which you can always add the night you plan to serve it.

Dark Days challenge, locavore, recipes



Comment by Laura

Must be a chili kind of weekend as that’s exactly what we’re having for dinner tonight (and at least 1 other). Ours won’t be nearly so authentic though…

Posted on 12.14.08 at 1:35PM

Comment by Kalyn

This looks like fabulous chili! I’m a big chili fan, but it has to have some ancho to be good chili to me.

Posted on 12.14.08 at 4:57PM

Pingback by (not so) Urban Hennery » Blog Archive » Dark Days 08/09 Recap - Week #4

[...] A crazy week of vet emergency, Menu for Hope shopping and vacation planning, left Anita almost without photos. Luckily her adaptable chili came to the rescue. So nice to see we’re not the only ones that make chili in big batches and freeze it for later. So glad Bella’s okay! [...]

Posted on 12.14.08 at 10:57PM

Comment by Anita

Forgot to mention that we enjoyed it with our first Anchor Christmas Ale of the year… mmm! We’re so lucky having a world-class brewery just over the hill.

Posted on 12.15.08 at 6:35AM

Comment by ctate

Only a tablespoon of chile powder for three pounds of meat, a tablespoon of cinnamon, and no cumin?! And a half cup of tomato puree?

You do realize that this is Cincinnati chili, right? And that Texans impound vehicles trying to smuggle it over the border? :)

Posted on 12.15.08 at 7:55PM

Comment by Anita

Ctate: Did I say it was Texas chili? It’s actually not like Cincinnati chili, which I am quite familiar with. For one thing, it’s thicker, it uses chunks of meat, and there’s beans in it; the spices fade into the background.

1/2 a cup of tomato for 3 pounds of meat isn’t much at all; Cameron abhors tomato-y chili, and this one passes his muster.

And, as for your (and Mamster’s) bitching about the amount of chile, the last batch I made was so hot it blew our sinuses out… it has a lot more to do with the strength of your chile than the amount.

But hey, feel free to make it your own way.

Posted on 12.15.08 at 8:00PM

Comment by Anita

ok, mea culpa — this is what I get for posting a recipe without an editor AND in a rush. it’s actually 1 tsp (not 1T) cinnamon, and there IS cumin in it. the correct recipe is above.

However, if there’s one more rude remark, the whole post is going away.

Posted on 12.15.08 at 8:03PM

Comment by Laura

Don’t take it away – I was looking forward to making it in January :)

Posted on 12.15.08 at 8:27PM

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