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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chili

   In honor of National Chili Month, and National Chili Week I made homemade chili today. Okay, no biggie, chili is not quite gourmet fare, but it is good and better when you don't use any of those cheater envelopes with the spices that are mostly salt--hey remember this is also no salt week!
   Okay, so dice up a large onion, and let it sweat in 2 tablespoons of oil for about 10 minutes, adding a diced green pepper about 5 minutes in. Then toss in ground round--I use about 1-1/2 lbs. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally so the onions don't burn, drain off the excess grease--please, it doesn't taste as good second time around, trust me. Put the mixture back into the pan--oh, I use a 6 quart stockpot with a heavy bottom. Toss in about 3 cloves of garlic that has been peeled and squashed under the side of a large knife. If you don't have fresh garlic, but do have the pre-minced stuff that comes in a jar, just use a good tablespoon. If you just have dehydrated granulated garlic,use about a teaspoon. I cannot give you a measurement for garlic powder because I don't use it--with your experience, just wing it.
   Add a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in juice or puree, and about 1/4 of a can of water (swirl it around in the can to get all the leftover pieces of tomato out). 1 teaspoon of beef base, which is optional. Okay, here I am going to sound like Rachael Ray--sorry about that, but I use my palms for measuring cups sometimes, too. Use 2 good palms full of chili powder, 1 palm full of cumin, 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder, 2 bay leaves and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon--yes, cinnamon.
   Bring it up to a simmer and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add 2--15 ounce cans of red beans--kidney or small red  beans--but drain out one can of the liquid. Let it simmer another 15-20 minutes. Taste it, adding salt, pepper, chili powder and/or cayenne to fit your taste. You can also add hot sauce, or Tabasco if your family likes it like that. You can also add a can of (or frozen) corn along with the beans (drained, of course). To keep with the no salt theme this week, go ahead and use the frozen stuff, unless you are up to shucking the kernels from a cob. Hey, its your chili, and your kitchen!
   I can't remember where my husband had it, but he got chili once served with chips and cheese--nacho chips, that is. So whenever I serve chili, I have to put his over crushed nacho chips and shredded cheddar on top. I put a dollop of sour cream on the top and call it good, for me. 
   Like I said no biggie, but I have just learned something that I would like to pass on to you: did you know that raw kidney beans are toxic? They MUST be soaked for 8 hours, drained of all the water and rinsed before you cook with them, and then they MUST reach 212 degrees F for 10 minutes to neutralize the toxin. Google it if you don't believe me. Wow! Of course it stands to reason that the canned ones have been through the soaking and rinsing and I imagine the canning process should bring them to the 212 degrees F, but just to be safe, boil those babies in the chili for at least 10 minutes and you're good to go. Okay, they said they were toxic, but they did not say they were lethal, just rough on the digestive tract, you know diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, all the good stuff. Oh,and the soaking of the beans, all beans, and cooking them properly is what determines whether or not they will cause gas. So Google that, too and make sure you don't serve your family something that will cause gastric discomfort.
   Here's my recipe for the chili in recipe card form:

Chili 

  • 1 large onion diced small
  • 1 green pepper diced small--yes you can use red if that's what you have--or 1/2 & 1/2
  • 2 tablespoons oil--I use vegetable oil here
  • 1-1-1/2 lbs. ground round 
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1--28 oz can crushed tomatoes in juice or puree
  • 1/4 can water
  • 1 teaspoon beef base (optional) find this by the soups in the supermarket--but be careful its loaded with sodium (sshhh that's salt)
  • 1/2 cup (2 palms full) chili powder
  • 1/4 cup (1 palm full) cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional--use more or less for your taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2--15 oz cans small red beans or kidney beans or black beans--drain at least 1 can--rinse to get all the sodium off if you want.
  • 1 can low sodium kernel corn drained OR  2 cups frozen kernel corn-optional
  • Nacho chips --whatever kind you like--optional
  • shredded cheddar cheese for topping--optional
  • sour cream-optional
  • corn bread--optional
  • crackers--optional
   Now, if you want another secret, we sometimes dice up a chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, and toss it in with the beans --but watch out it can really bring on the heat!

   Now I'd like to hear your recipe for your fantastic chili!