Friday, January 6, 2012

Three Bean Chili and Cornbread

Chili is an American favorite and each region and even each family has a different way of making it. I know I've got to have beans and some people think beans ruins it. I don't like it too hot and spicy and some people like to burn off their taste buds and burn all the way through. I prefer mine with chunks of meat and I like beef but you can find everything from ground beef to ratttlesnake and alligator.

Now that I live in Virginia, I can't always find the variety of chilis I find in every market in California, without making a trip in to Roanoke for a specialty grocery store. So here is one of my favorite recipes using that which is easily found and also that which I remembered to buy when I was at the store and decided to make some chili.

Three Bean Chili

1- 1 1/2 pounds of eye of round or top sirloin
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 scant Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper
1-2 onions chopped
1 4 oz can diced green chilis or jalapenos, drained or fresh to taste, divided use
2 Tablespoons garlic chopped or minced
12 oz dark beer (didn't have any dark, used wheat beer)
1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
(I would have used 2 and skipped the tomato sauce but that is what I had!) so...
1 can 15 oz tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate, grated (about 1/4 of a square)
2 bay leaves
1 14.5 oz beef broth
1 15 oz. can kidney bean
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can white beans
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro if desired

garnish with sour cream, chopped scallions or grated cheese as desired

If you have a Le Creuset pot, this is a good time to use it. I was too cheap and got the same type of pot by Martha Stewart on sale and it works great so that is what I use for stews and soups.

Slice the meat in a 1/2 inch dice. If the meat is thin enough just make long strips and then cut it crosswise. I always trim every bit off fat off that I can. If you cut away a lot of the meat you may want to buy a bit more so you have enough for the recipe. If you put the fat on the tray your meat came on, you can just pick it up and dispose of it when you are finished cutting. Remember to clean your knife and use a different cutting board for the onions.

Brown it in batches in a bit of oil, about 3 minutes. Set it aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. If you brown it all at once the top bits steam instead of brown and who wants steamed meat?

While it is browning I measure out the spices (cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano and cayenne) into a small bowl. Some chili powder is stronger than others. Plus I don't like really hot food so when I measure it out I sometimes panic and make small adjustments in the amount. That is why I put in 2 scant Tablespoons. I didn't quite fill the spoon. Crazy, right??

Chop up the onions. It should be a couple of cups depending on the size of the onions. If you like green peppers, put them in. I don't, so I didn't.

Then put the spices into the now empty cook pot. Stir them around until you can really smell the spices. Then add a bit more oil and the onions. Saute until the onions soften and turn nice and brown from the spices. Open a small can of diced green chilis and chop them even more to make them very fine. Add half of them them to the onions, saving the rest for later. Then add 2 Tablespoons of chopped or minced garlic. If you have the time to crush your own, that's fine, too! Add them to the dish.

Stir and cook a few more minutes and add the beer. No you can't save some for yourself. You have to go get another one. But don't worry. You've already chopped everything that needs chopping and the rest is pretty safe to do while having a beer. Clean up, open the cans of tomato, grate the chocolate and put the spice bottles away while the mixture simmers about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chocolate and bay leaves and beef broth or 2 cups water if you don't have any. Bring to a simmer and cover for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pot. Stir them and cover. Go feed the horses. Well, that's what I did. Then make the corn bread. Recipe below.

Remove the bay leaves and discard them. Chop 1/4 cup of cilantro and add, if you wish. Add the lime juice. Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve with the garnishes you like.


Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
1/2 cup grated cheese
reserved green chilis
3 Tablespoons butter, divided use

Blend all the ingredients, except the butter. Use as much or as little green chilis as you like. I like about 1 Tablespoon. Don't over stir. Lumps are OK. Let the mixture rest while you put a small cast iron pan (I used a #5) in the 400 degree oven with one Tablespoon butter to melt. If you have a bigger pan, double the recipe. Or use a 8X8 pan sprayed with Pam. Melt the remaining butter in a small dish in the microwave.

Remove the cast iron pan from the oven. Gently scrape the batter into the cast iron pan and pour the melted butter on top. Return it to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If you double the recipe it will take longer!

Lee came in from working outside and I told him I was blogging dinner. He said, "I thought you would blog about my fire." I hadn't even thought about it. Usually I look around and see if we are doing anything interesting. If we are, I take my camera and try to remember to take pictures and to think about what I am doing rather than mindlessly work.

Sometimes I have no pictures and it didn't turn out to be interesting, so I have nothing to write. Today I wanted to add a recipe, so I didn't even think to see what Lee was doing. He came in covered with soot and scratches from burning the brush he has cut over the last month. That and the flames shooting skyward would have been a pretty good story. Too bad I missed it. Next time, for sure. Cutting brush is a never ending activity around here, replete with danger. Blood, chainsaws, locust thorns, fire and the possibility of disaster! Can you imagine it?

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