Wednesday, March 31, 2010

chili on a warm day

Warmest day of the year so far, in fact! Honestly, how much sense does this make?!
I have several poor excuses for why I didn't post this three days ago, so let's just skip them.

yumm chili!

First, I have to credit my mom for this recipe, as it is almost entirely based on my foggy memory of "helping" her pour cans into a pot as a child. That, and several confused phone calls home from the canned vegetable aisle since I've moved away.
Second, this isn't really a recipe. I've never made chili the same way twice (not exactly on purpose). I would call this more of a 'guide on how to create your own chili recipe'. Yay! I don't know about you, but I hate being told exactly how to do something!

You will need:
two cans of beans of your choice, preferably one "in sauce" such as "chili hot beans", and I can't go without kidney beans!

one can tomatoes, I got "chili ready" diced tomatoes

one mini can tomato paste

half of an onion, chopped, red, yellow, or white--I prefer red--chopped to size of your liking

green pepper, chopped

catchup, unless you don't have any (what?!), then you can skip this, although it is the secret ingredient, you know!

small amount of oil, I use olive oil, whatever cooking oil you prefer is fine

salt, pepper, and sugar

garlic form of your choice we use the pre-chopped in a glass jar kind

if you want meat small package of the leanest ground beef you can afford
if you want to reduce the fat or go vegetarian a package of Morningstar "crumbles"
if you want vegetarian chili without fake meat a third can of beans, the other half of that onion, and perhaps a red pepper or other vegetable of your choice

Time to get creative...

In a large pot (I use the one from my set with the handles on either side) on medium heat add a tbsp or so of your oil. Once the oil has warmed up, add your green bell pepper and onion. I usually add as I chop, so start with the bell pepper as it takes longer to soften up. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and brown your veggies. You just need to cook them until they get dark on a couple edges and start to soften up. This gives them flavor!

If you are using beef, in another pan, brown it at the same time you are cooking your veggies. Drain excess oil and add to your large pot.

Now comes the easy part! Add your can of tomatoes (do not drain!) and your cans of beans (if it's an "in sauce" kind, don't drain at all; if it just has "bean juice" in it, I usually drain about half of that off before adding to the pot). Next add the small can of tomato paste, then fill the can with water and add it as well. Combine everything well. If you are using the faux-beef in place of the ground beef, add it at this time. This was my first time using it in chili, and we loved it! I added about half the package of 'crumbles'.

As far as seasoning...I wing everything, of course. I will guess for you on quantity. Add apx 1-2 tbsp catchup, and about a cloves worth of garlic. Salt, pepper, and sugar should all be added in small amounts to taste. I always end up using more than I think I will! But it's easier to add than it is to take out. Sugar is actually the secret ingredient! Sometimes I forget, and can't figure out why the chili tastes bland, flat, and just plain weird. But add in a tbsp of sugar (or more....) and it just blossoms.

Now just leave it on medium-low heat with a lid on and let it simmer, stirring every 5 or so minutes. For how long? Mmm, I don't know, til you're ready to eat I suppose. I use this time to make the cornbread! The ONLY choice for cornbread is Jiffy. And you have to obey the instructions when they suggest to let the batter sit for 5 minutes and then stir again.

Okay, I hope that made a tiny bit of sense! I'm definitely not a recipe writer, eep. That felt like homework! Let me know if you try it out and any variations you may come up with. I'm always willing to add new things to the pot.


Anna said...

chili is on my list of 10 things I can actually cook.
love this post!
p.s. i always add a can of tomato soup instead of ketchup.

courtney.janelle.sews said...

ooo, tomato soup, I'll have to try that! I imagine that would make it more "soupy" (haha) which might be a nice change.