Jen’s Not-Famous(-Yet) Chili Recipe 2009 © Copyright protected

Jen’s Not-Famous(-Yet) Chili Recipe 2009 © Copyright protected

October 12, 2009 at 8:50am

Ingredients:
About a pound of ground beef (or substitute thereof)
About ½ med-lg red onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, depending on length, sliced 1x lengthwise, chopped about ¼” thick
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (or the equivalent thereof if you have a tomato garden)
About 1 ½ c of corn; I prefer frozen to canned
About ½ bunch of spinach, torn into thirds (include the stems!)
An entire bulb of garlic
About half a cup of Kidney beans and about 1/3 less of white beans
About 3 medium carrots, cut once lengthwise, then sliced, approx 1/4” thick
1 can tomato paste
Several jalapenos, depending on your taste. The ridged ones are spicier. 
Chili pepper; about 1 tsp
Chili powder; about 1-2 tbsp
Cumin; about 1 tbsp
Cracked white/black pepper, to taste

Directions:
The night before: clean, rinse, then soak the beans in the crockpot on low overnight. Throw in a few cloves of garlic and ridged jalapenos, de-stemmed and cut in half
Drain the water out and check a bean for tenderness. You want them fully cooked before you start your chili. DO NOT FORGET AND LEAVE THEM IN THE CROCKPOT ALL DAY WHILE YOU’RE AT WORK! Done that once, now I impart my important lesson to you. Get up a little earlier to give yourself time to drain and refrigerate your cooked beans if you don’t have time to make the chili in the morning.
Making the chili:
1. Chop everything first. This way nothing burns or gets overcooked. You might even want to do this prep the night before and throw them in the fridge while you soak the beans. 
2. Brown the ground beef, tempeh, tvp or whatever. I like the Yves ground lean stuff because it’s no fuss; I just empty the bag right into the crockpot. If browning, I prefer olive to canola oil; it’s a cleaner and lighter flavor.
3. While you’re browning the beef or substitute, add the chopped onions and celery, cracked pepper, chili powder, chili pepper, cumin, more garlic (to taste). DO NOT CARAMELIZE; just lightly braise the onions and celery. You still want them crunchy before you throw them in the crockpot. You are doing this so that your meat (or substitute) and flavors hum in nice synchronicity.
4. Throw the browned meat (or substitute) mixture into the crockpot with your beans. Add your carrots, corn and spinach. Add more garlic, cumin, chili pepper and chili powder and jalapenos to taste in your crockpot. I don’t think I need to tell you how spicy to make it. Only you know your own strength.
5. Add your can of tomatoes. Now is the time to throw in anything else I may not have mentioned; if you like mushrooms or bell peppers or whatever in your chili. CAREFULLY fold things together with a wooden spoon. You don’t want to mash your beans! If it is really difficult, thick or dense; more than you want, water it down just enough. Take it slow; 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, and keep folding until the consistency looks like the way you want it. If it is, or gets too watery, add the can of tomato paste.
6. It’s ready to go! Put it on low and go to work or start your day. In about 8 hours or so it will be ready to serve. This is almost a full crockpot, and it can make between 8-15 bowls, depending on the size of your bowl!

NOTE: If you are cooking for multiple people and not sure of the spiciness, use 1 non-ridged jalapeno when browning the beef (or substitute), then about 3 medium jalapenos, ridged, for the entire crockpot. Cut them only in half so they are easy to find and extricate upon arrival to the finished chili. Then, when you are ready to serve, put the following items on the serving table next to the chili: sour cream, shredded monterrey jack, cilantro, lime, crackers, and cornbread (or some kind of bread). You can inform those who like it spicier to sprinkle on some cilantro and lime to bring out the spiciness, while informing those who like it less spicy to add a dollop of sour cream on top of their monterrey jack on top of their crackers to drown out the spiciness. The cornbread (or whatever bread) is for everyone to enjoy it with and to make this an even heartier meal.

DRINK PAIRINGS: Anything tequila-based.  After all, it’s a tex-mex meal!  …or hot apple cider for the kids, and brandy-infused apple cider for everyone else! (Keep in mind, this is a cold-weather recipe!!)

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