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chili

i admit it: chili is one of my favorite foods. just the thought of it brings back nostalgic memories of the chili cook-offs my childhood church used to hold every year. so it’s only fitting that this should be my first post.  that and i don’t know a man who doesn’t like chili–and my husband is about as manly as they come (minus that whole classical guitarist thing; but i do believe he balances that out by being a licensed pyrotechnician, right?….RIGHT???). he falls in love with me all over again when he puts one bite of this in his mouth.

 

ingredients:

1 1/2 c. dry beans (+ water for soaking)*

6 c. water

2 c. chopped onion

3 anaheim peppers, seeds and veins removed

1 jalepeno, with seeds (or, if you don’t like much heat, deveined and seeded. but don’t skip the jalepeno; trust me, with the seeds taken out, it’s not hot at all. come on, be daring. you can always drink milk afterwards if it’s too hot)

1/4 lb. ground beef (this can be omitted for a vegetarian option, or subbed for black beans)

pinch or two salt

2 large tomatoes, diced (or 1/2-3/4 c. salsa or enchilada sauce)

2 tsp. salt

2 T. worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 T. brown sugar (or 1 T. blackstrap molasses…i heart molasses)

1-2 tsp. honey (if using molasses, omit the honey)

1 T. chili powder

3 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne powder

1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. ground mustard

1 c. corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

shredded cheddar & sour cream, for garnish

 

instructions:

1) place dry beans in a medium mixing bowl. fill with water, at least three-times the amount of beans. (i usually fill almost to the brim, just to be on the safe side.) soak overnight, or for at least 6-8 hours. drain. **

2) place beans in a dutch oven, along with water, onions, and pepper. bring to boil, then reduce to simmer & cover.

(you never want to boil beans because apparently it breaks their skins. you also never want to put salt in simmering beans, as that slows the cooking process down. click here for a great website from Whole Foods for more tips on cooking dry beans.) simmer for 2 hours, being careful to not remove the lid from the pot.

3) towards end of simmering, cook ground beef in skillet.

 

sprinkle with pinch or two of salt. once browned, drain.

 

4) add browned beef and remaining ingredients to bean pot.

return to simmer and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.

5) to serve, garnish with with sour cream and shredded cheddar. (i find that sour cream is great for cutting down on the spiciness of food.)

 

*1 1/2 cups of dry pink beans = 3 cups soaked pink beans. i’m pretty sure black beans swell the same; pinto beans, in my experience, seem to swell more but i haven’t actually measured it out. so the aforementioned conversion was my experience with pink beans

**i realize that sometimes it’s hard to plan dinner 8 hours (or more) ahead of time. what i like to do when i soak beans is to soak a huge batch at one time, take what i need for the recipe i’m making, then freeze the rest for future. OR you can go one step further and simmer the big batch of beans with onions and peppers, then freeze that. (just make sure to label which batches are soaked and which are simmered! i’ve made the mistake of not labeling, and believe you me, there was a lot of poking that was involved…and poking frozen beans isn’t exactly conclusive.)

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