2, Sep 2008

Chili has long been a staple, especially for the winter, when I’ll occasionally make a big pot and have leftovers for a week. But my chili recipe was pretty embarassing: basically some meat, some canned tomatoes, and a packet labeled “chili”. I’ve been experimenting a bit with non-packet-based chili (both to seem cooler and to reduce unwanted things like sodium). This recipe also marks the return of beans to my chili after a 25+ year absence, after my father and I politely petitioned my mother to leave them out of her chili.

1 lb beef sirloin, cut into 1″ cubes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
14 oz can mixed pinto, kidney, and black beans, drained
1 whole onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin seed
2 tsp ground coriander seed
2 tsp oregano
1 ear corn, removed from the cob
olive oil, butter

Place the meat cubes on a baking pan so they don’t touch, and freeze for about 30 minutes. Pulse them in about three batches in a good processor. Spread the ground beef out and remove any large chunks of meat or gristle. Add a small amount of oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the diced onion and spread out. Don’t stir; let the onions begin to char, a few minutes. Stir and let sit for a couple more minutes. Add the garlic and a pat of butter and stir. Turn heat down to medium and keep stirring occasionally for a few more minutes. Reduce to low and let saute for a while.
Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. When hot, add the meat and brown. When the meat is browned, remove with a slotted spoon, drain the skillet, and wipe it out with a paper towel.
Put the skillet back on medium-high heat and add back the meat. Add in the onion and garlic mixture and stir. While stirring, add the tomatoes, beans, and corn. Fill the tomato can with water and add about half of it. Stir in the chili powders, oregano, cumin, and coriander to taste. Let it begin to bubble then turn down to medium-low and simmer with the top off for at least 20 minutes (the longer the better). You can add more of the water and then let it cook down again; cook it down until you like the thickness and take it off the stove. Serve with grated cheese and fresh chopped scallions.
Pretty good. The texture is good, and the flavor is pretty good. It has a bit too much of an afterburn, but at the same time is missing a little depth of flavor. A little less of the chipotle powder and, I’m thinking, something with a little smokiness in it might be good. Smoked pepper? Bacon? I tried a little smoked paprike sprinkled on toward the end, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. I also didn’t freeze the meat quite long enough (I did 25 min) and it ended up pretty mushed together, like store ground beef. I was going for a looser effect, though this was fine. I’ll try that too, though obviously this recipe would be fine with ground beef from the store (or, say, ground ostrich which is healthy and wouldn’t require that you drain the grease but would still be beefier than ground chicken or turkey).