Friday, July 31, 2009

The Squirrel Can Cook - Chili

For me, nothing says "comfort food" like a big bowl of chili. Whether you like it hot and spicy or just flavorful and savory, chili is just good food. This is a milder chili, since Mrs. Squirrel (and certain sissy-mouthed regular readers of The Squirrel Can Cook) doesn't like it spicy. I'll note [recipe variations] for a bit more "burn" along the way, for the brave and adventurous types.

This recipe is for a large batch of chili, as I like a lot of leftovers when it comes to chili, soup, and stew. For a smaller batch, just half all the ingredients.

Our ingredients are:

2 pounds stew meat, cut small (1/4 inch pieces)
2 - large onions, chopped
[2 - Jalapeno chilies, chopped - leave seeds for more heat, remove seeds for less heat]
4-6 - garlic cloves, crushed
2 - tablespoons chili powder
1/2 - teaspoon salt
2 - teaspoons ground cumin
2 - teaspoons dried oregano leaves
[1 - teaspoon cayenne pepper]
1 - teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 - 28-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 - 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 - 6-oz cans tomato paste
2 - 19-oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 19-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 19-0z can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, onion, & garlic [& Jalapenos] and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned, about 8 minutes or so. Unless you used a really fatty cut of meat, don't drain the juices from your meat mixture, but transfer the entire contents of the skillet to a large stock pot.

Put the stock pot over medium-high heat and stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, the spices and the Tabasco sauce -- actually all the remaining ingredients except for the beans -- & heat just to a boil. then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and stir in beans. Return to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer covered about 30 minutes. You'll want to stir about every 6 to 8 minutes, and, if it becomes too thick, you may need to add some water. (It's a good idea to keep a hot tea kettle handy for that. But do not add too much water! Remember, we're making chili, not soup.)

After about 30 minutes, your chili is ready to serve. I like mine topped with cheese and raw onion. Dad always liked to crumble a few saltine crackers in his. Mom likes hers with cornbread. Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread alone!

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