Monday, October 19, 2009

Rainy Day Chili

We have been partying it up lately - four parties in four weekend days. Elan is exhausted from playing with so many kids' toys.

It's raining again. Second big rain so far in October. The weather is mocking our HOA's plan to paint the whole condo (4 units) by "the time the rains come." Right now the rain is falling straight down and hard and it is saying: "Ha! I'm here, and you haven't even picked the color yet! (but you have taken down your existing two semi-functional gutters and noted with concern all the spots where the exposed wood could start to rot)."

Anyway, for our housewarming party last weekend, I made chili, and I've had several requests for the recipe since. So here it is, courtesy of The New Best Recipe (whose recipes are extraordinarily thorough). Very delicious on a fall evening, and it really is even better the next day. For the party, I actually made it two days before and reheated it all day in the crock-pot. Yum. This is the meat-eaters' version - I made a vegetarian one too, but it wasn't nearly as good.

Beef Chili with Kidney Beans
serves 8-10

2 T vegetable or corn oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 c chili powder
1 T ground cumin
2 t ground coriander
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 lbs 85% lean ground beef
2 (15-oz) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-oz) can tomato puree*
2 limes, cut into wedges

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining beef and cook, breaking up the chunks, until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 t salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 c water and continue to simmer), until the beef is tender and the chili is dark, rich and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasonings with additional salt to taste. Serve with the lime wedges and condiments, if desired.

Good choices for condiments include: diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or two in advance and reheat before serving.

*I couldn't find a large can of tomato puree, so I used two large cans of "tomatoes in puree" instead of one can of each.

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