Monday, January 21, 2008

Chili's Right for those Chilly Nights

I think I’m nesting.

No, not in a pull-fur-from-my-underbelly-and-make-a-nest kind of way, but more a hormonal-pregnant-woman’s-natural-nesting-instinct kind of way. I am usually a pretty organized girl, but when my sock drawer is tidy, my family photo albums up to date, my son’s toys categorically assigned to labeled bins and I’ve moved on to the ironing pile (my least favorite household task), warning lights start going off in my head. So far I haven’t done anything too outrageous and everything still seems justifiable, such as starting to stockpile frozen meals for when the baby comes. Totally practical, right?

This chili was one if the first dishes to be made in mass quantities and tucked away in liter containers. Now chili is not something I grew up with; beans, yes, in vast amounts, but chili would have required using ground beef and my mother usually kept us pretty far away from the stuff.

“Chock full of hormones” she would say.

It took a while before I could bring myself to buy ground beef, let along make a manly pot of chili for my man, but over the years it has slowly become something we enjoy once in a while during the cold winter months.

Funnily enough, Noah loves chili and that is reason enough to stockpile. Another reason is the massive bag of dried kidney beans that I have been working my way through for the past two years. I always get waaaaay to carried away in those bulk food stores. Oh, how I love them, with their eight different kinds of dried oats, pretty displays of colorful lentils, and vast assortments of dried fruit, but I inevitably end up leaving with far more than I need or could possibly use for a household of three. Hence the kidney beans.

You will find this chili convenient for making in large amounts and conducive to freezing, but there’s nothing pretty about it. It was rather hard to get inspired to photograph it--I mean, it’s chili. It just ain’t pretty!

Winter Chili.

This is a spicier version of what I usually make. Not so suitable for young children, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. If you want a milder version, just omit the can of chillies, the cayenne and reduce the chili powder by half, as I do.

1 ½ lbs ground beef

1 lb Italian sausages, crumbled

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups beef stock

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 large onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 10oz can of green chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

8 oz tomato paste

16 oz canned diced tomatoes

4-6 cups cooked kidney beans (depending on personal preference)

(1 cup frozen corn)

In a large saucepan, brown the beef and sausage in 2 tablespoons oil, drain off fat and reserve meat. In the same pot, add beef stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and crumble saffron into stock. Set aside to steep.

In another skillet, heat remaining oil and sweat onions and garlic. Add chillies and seasonings and stir.

In a large pot combine tomatoes, beef stock, onion/ spice mixture and meat. Stir well and simmer slowly, partially covered, for about 1½ hours. Check seasoning and adjust.

Add kidney beans and slowly cook another 10 minutes or so. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread. Garnish with any or all of the following: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, sliced green onions or cubed avocado.


Peter M said...

Ohhh, nice addition of the saffron and yes, great for freezing and enjoying again and again.

Sandy said...

Chili is great for the freezer. I totally understand the nesting thing. Stockpile away and you will be glad you did when the little one arrives.

test it comm said...

That chili looks really good. I like the use of the corn. The sweetness of the corn would go well in chili.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

We don't have chilli nearly often enough and I've never tasted or made cornbread which I see on a lot of blogs.

Off to find a cornbread recipe of yours now...

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I couldn't find one but I did find the pouding chomeur - I am definitely trying that! Though with the cost of maple syrup in England we may have to change the name to Rich Mans Pudding.

Aimée said...

Hi Peter- Perfect for the upcoming Super Bowl, right?
Hi Sandy- I guess most mother's would understand nesting!It's like a restless itch!
Hi kevin- Just a way to get more vegetables into my sons diet!
Hi Amanda- I'm sending you my recipe as soon as I have time to type it up. It's the best-moist and a little sweet. Great with honey!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Chili is one of my favorite dinners. I, too, got overenthusiastic buying kidney beans - a bag that's about 25 lbs! I had great visions of making tons of cheap, healthy meals. Now the beans are so old that I just use them as pie weights and to fill bean bags.

Your pictures turned out beautifully and I'd like a big piece of that cornbread, thank you very much.

Deborah said...

This is one thing I would gladly stockpile away in my freezer!!

Cakespy said...

Yes...Chili is right for chilly nights. You said it! Living in Seattle, as I often say when I see a dish like this, winter is made for hearty fare.

Amrita said...

Oh! that looks reallllllllllly divine!

Emeline said...

So maybe we have ESP... I made chili just last night! No saffron, but it was still yummy. Man, I love thyme!
When are you due? I secretely loved the nesting period...

Aimée said...

Hi Lynn- Thanks, you are too kind. Glad I am not the only one to go 'nuts' in the bean department.
Hi Deborah- Ah, another chili fan!
Hi Cakespy- It just would not be the same in the summer, would it?
Hi Amrita- Welcome to UtHC! Thanks for dropping by and for your comment.
Hi Emeline- March 14 is the big day. We're counting down the weeks now!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I think you did an excellent job of photography with the chili and made it look droolworthy!Good odea top stockpile the food. It's nice to have delicious foods on hand anyway no matter what!

winedeb said...

I must agree with all, chili really freezes well. I am like you when I make it. I feel well hey, since I am cooking a pot of chili I might as well make a whole load of it! Having chili in the freezer is like a security blanket to me - always something good and home made to eat if I get in a pinch! Lovely photos Aimee!

Aimée said...

Hi Valli- Many thanks...
Hi Deb- I have to ask, do you drink wine with your chili??

Anonymous said...

Saffron? Italian sausage? Beans? Corn?

... in Chili?

Your recipe may be a good stew, but it certainly is not CHILI.

If I served that to my boyfriend, Big Bear, he would probably hurt me badly.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I was born and raised in San Antonio, and I had a mindset about what "chili" should be.

Your recipe doesn't fit that stereotype, but I gotta tell you that it sounds REALLY good.

I'm going to make it the first of the week for my husband, DocChuck.

Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

That looks delicious!

I'll probably add MORE pepper just because that's me...

How much chili does this make, by the way?

Aimée said...

Hi chiffonade- Ohhh, so I really went out on a limb with those beans, eh? ;)
Sounds like you guys could use a little counseling.

Hi elizabeth- Right. Or should I call you chiffonade?

Hi Steve- This serves at least 8 people...with leftovers!

Anonymous said...

That's just my portly little husband, clad in his ermine trimmed drool bib and pointy shoes, posting as "chiffonade" again.

I think he likes prison food!

Anonymous said...

Aimee - please disregard the impostor above who insists on posting as me. I am actually Chiffonade. I think chili-purists are missing the boat when they are not in competition and should let loose - try new stuff!

I would never dis another member of the culinary community because I have too much respect for those who cook real food. (Unlike Sandra Lee - who is a laughingstock.)

Keep it real - and happy cooking!

Anne C. said...

I will be tasting this in half an hour or so! Thanks for the inspiration. I had the lemon ricotta pancakes twice already this week.

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