October 14th. It's strange to think that I started this blog a year (and 4 days) ago; before then, I hardly ever read food blogs and I was totally unaware that such a vast array of them existed. Now, reading other food blogs, as well as keeping up my own, is something of a habit that I can't quite imagine my life without.
Unfortunately, ringing in a new blogging year came with a lot of flops. In the past few weeks I've made a handful of things which weren't terrible by any means but were certainly nowhere near outstanding either and thus, in my limited time, not worth posting. It wasn't until I came back to an old favorite, and one of the first real meals I started to cook from scratch, that I finally had some success.
The chili recipe below is a re-vamped version of a recipe I fell in love with a few years ago. As I mentioned a while ago, it was my friend's Dad who first introduced me to homemade chili. His was a hearty, healthy, and simple vegetarian chili that was comfort food without the subsequent bloating. My recipe below is a spin on his simple chili with added cocoa powder and cinnamon for complexity and depth of flavor, lean ground beef for slightly more body, and fire roasted tomatoes for even more warmth. This is my idea of the perfect cold weather fare.
This recipe is extremely adaptable. Aside from the flexibility you have with seasonings, you can easily leave out the ground beef for a vegetarian version and add more beans or veggies such as zucchini, mushrooms, corn, peas, or celery. In addition, you can play around with texture by using a food processor to prepare the vegetables or chopping them slightly larger by hand.
2 small sweet onions (or one large), diced
2 carrots, diced
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1- 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
2 bell peppers (red, green, yellow, whichever), diced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 14 oz can kidney beans
1/3- 2/3 cup water, broth or wine added as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all the vegetables, then coat the bottom of a 6 quart or larger stock pot with cooking oil and add the hot red pepper flakes. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the peppers and stir all together. Let the veggies wilt another two minutes or so and then add the remaining spices and herbs.
Add the tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. As you wait for the mixture to simmer, brown the ground beef in a medium sauté pan with a few spinkles of chili powder, salt and pepper.
Add the beans and the ground beef and simmer on low for at least 45 minutes adding extra liquid (water, broth, wine) as needed. Stir occasionally to make sure the chili doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Taste to correct for seasoning (hotter?).
Serve over brown rice, polenta, millet, egg noodles or with a side of cornbread (or whatever else you'd like) and garnish with chopped sweet onion and shredded cheddar cheese.
* I know this isn't a traditional mole, per se, but the complex blend of spices in mole is what inspired this recipe.