Flavors of Fall ~ Chili ~ Part two

So let’s make chili!

For the list of ingredients, visit this morning’s post (Part 1) at https://neatnosh.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/flavors-of-fall-chili-part-1/.

I start the chili with the meat. In the pot the ground beef goes. Now in spite of the fact that I buy it only 80% lean to keep some of that fat, I add just a tablespoon or so of olive oil to get the process started. Add salt and pepper to begin the seasoning. break up the meat and tend to it carefully so you have lovely crumbles and none of them burn.

Time to turn up the flavor. Add the flavor four to the meat: oregano, basil, parsley and dill. I don’t measure, but I also don’t use them evenly. A palmful of oregano and parsley, a healthy palmful of dill, and just a few shakes of basil will flavor the meat beautifully. Continue to cook your meat until you have beautiful brown crumbles. Now that they are done, give them a taste.

Next add the onions. They will slowly mix with the meat and the flavors. Salt again, but carefully. You can always add salt, but you can’t take it away. The onions need some salt to break down and join the flavor party. Gently tend these until the onions are softened.

Add the tomatoes, juice and all, and your peppers.Today I used a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes and a can of organic fire roasted diced tomatoes. Use what you have and start to make it a practice in these cooler months to stock up when they are on sale. These were in my pantry so I didn’t have to buy.

Mix well and give them a few minutes to join with the flavors of the meat and onions. Take a taste and see if you need salt. It seems like you are adding a lot of salt, but if you add seasoning layer by layer, you won’t need a salt shaker at the table. It will be perfect. And remember I am not telling you how much. Your palate should decide. So taste a little and add a little if you need to. Add the chili seasoning, mix, cover, and let simmer. This lets the flavors get cozy in the ‘hot tub’ and softens the peppers. Chili flavors include anything hot and spicy you like. In a packet of chili seasoning you will generally find:

  • chili powder
  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • dried oregano
  • ground coriander
  • cayenne
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • crushed red pepper
  • celery salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Don’t hesitate as a beginner to buy a packet but again….ADD A LITTLE AND TASTE, THEN ADD A LITTLE MORE. You may very well find you only use a portion of the packet. Throw it in a zipper bag to keep it fresh to make chili again soon! You may find you never care to explore making your own, and that is ok. There are a lot of flavors there and if you want to simplify find a brand you like, and buy that on sale. Stock up because the expiration dates are often a year or two!

After allowing this delicious mixture to simmer for a good half hour (at least) or more (maybe an hour?) remove the lid, add the broth, and give it a good stir. Cover and simmer again. This time at least 20 minutes but more if you like. I have time today so this simmer will be a good hour or so. Be sure to pay some attention to your dinner. Go give it a stir every 5-10 minutes.

Finally you add the beans. Don’t make the first timer mistake I did once of opening the can and dumping them in your pot. Make sure you rinse them off well. Today I will be adding three cans of beans: one dark red, one light red, and one cannellini. You should add what you like. And two cans is enough if you are not the HUGE BEAN LOVER my husband is.

Add the beans, allow them to simmer awhile and let all of the flavors blend. Now it is really up to you to give it one good last taste. And by the way … IT IS REALLY HOT! Be careful! {A little hint if you think the flavors are too hot for you. Put a little sugar – or clear agave syrup – in the pot. A little sugar will cut the ‘too much spice’ thing you have going.}

Now, when you are serving this delicious chili, consider toppings. My husband is a purist. But I think a sprinkle of grated or shredded cheddar is lovely. And I like sour cream, just a dollop please. Add some toasty bread, or pita chips and dinner is served! Enjoy!

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Flavors of Fall ~ Chili ~ Part 1

Chili is a great go to meal for us. It is one of Barry’s favorites and always a pleaser. With just the two of us home now, I can make a pot and it is dinner for a few nights! Fall brings cooler temperatures quickly in the Catskills. Today I woke up to 40 degrees on the back porch so I was extra happy that I had been to the market yesterday and picked up the ingredients for my chili. And tonight’s pot of chili will feed friend, neighbor, and supporter, Mark, as well. If you are thinking of making chili here is what you need:

  • 1 lb. ground beef ~ Buy the 80 percent….you want a little fat for flavor.
  • 3 or 4 peppers ~ Green peppers are on sale right now but I did buy one red for color.
  • one large or two small onions ~ The color is your choice. I tend to use reds, but I bought Vidalias on sale!
  • tomatoes ~ Depending on how diehard you are, you can use fresh, but I use large cans of San Marzano tomatoes (2 cans will do). I sometimes use one of the fire roasted for extra zip.
  • kidney beans ~ Again, you have a choice of colors. These things can only be decided by you. What do you like best? What I know in my home is that there should be A LOT of beans. I mix dark red, light red, and cannellini beans.
  • one small can beef broth ~ I had seen one of the Food Network Stars do this and said it added a ‘depth of flavor.” Imagine my surprise when my husband (AKA critic) said, what did you do differently? This is the best chili you have ever made!
  • optional toppings ~ sour cream and shredded cheddar are my favorites!
  • seasonings~
    • salt & pepper
    • the flavor four ~ parsley, dill, oregano, & basil
    • chili spices ~ you can buy a packet of ‘chili seasoning’ at first, but learn the flavors so you can tailor this to your own taste.

**Please note: For my vegetarian friends, you can substitute faux ground beef ~ soy ‘crumbles’ ~ and veggie broth. I have not tried mushroom stock yet, but network foodies are starting to use it and say it is great too. In fact, Rachael Ray said it adds the same depth as beef broth. Part Two will be the “how to”! So easy….and delicious.

Go shopping. See you back here later!