Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hearty Chili and Cornbread

I love fall, if for no other reason than it seems the perfect time to start pulling out some comfort foods!
Clearly, food photography is not my gift, but it tastes delicious!

A good, hearty chili soup just makes me feel warm and cozy and is really versatile.  It is an easy thing to make for a big group, and even if I'm just making it for our family, I usually make a big batch when I make it.  We usually eat it the first night with some cornbread, and then another night we'll often put a bit of it on a bowl of pasta for some "chili mac" or use some of it as a topping for baked potatoes.  It also freezes really well, so I like having something to tuck away to thaw out and use later for a quick meal.

So, a warning is that this makes a BIG pot of chili.  You could easily half this recipe and still have enough for a family for dinner.

To be honest, this is the first time I've ever written down what I put in the chili, and the nice thing about this "recipe," is that it is really flexible, so if you like to have more or less meat or more or less beans, you can adjust those quite easily.  You can also adjust the amount of broth you add to make it thinner or thicker. Cutting to the chase, when I made it and wrote it down, this recipe leads to a hearty chili that we really enjoy:

Hearty Chili
1 c onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
500 g ground meat (I use beef when available but have made it with buffalo, pork, or chicken, or a mix)
4 c broth 
5 c cooked/canned kidney beans 
1 large can (850 g) tomato puree
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder (American)*
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t brown sugar

Lightly brown the ground meat in your pot with the onions and garlic.  The meat here is usually very lean, so I usually put a few tablespoons of oil in the pan first but did not usually do that if the meat had a bit of fat to it.
Add the broth.  In the States, I would tend to use beef broth or bouillon.  Here I use 4 cups of water and 2 bouillon cubes--usually chicken but only veggie were available this time, and it was fine.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.  
Add the cooked or canned beans.  I have shifted the kind of beans, depending on what is available.  Here, I usually try to use kidney beans.  If you use canned beans, you don't have to cook them, but I used dried beans this time, soaked them overnight and then cooked them separately in a pressure cooker.  
Add the tomato puree, cumin, and chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.
* I didn't have American chili powder available this time, so I used 1/2 teaspoon of the local chili powder, and it was still a tad on the spicy side for my kiddos. 
Simmer the chili for 20-30 minutes on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally.  If it starts to bubble much, turn down the heat.  In the last 5-10 minutes, add the cinnamon and brown sugar.

Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, or green onions, if you like.

As I said, I like to make a batch of cornbread to go with our chili.
Here is the recipe I usually use:
The only change I usually make is that I substitute yogurt for the buttermilk, and it works great.  This picture is a double batch, but I would recommend just a single batch unless having company.

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