Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Forecast: Chilly with a chance of chili

Ok, so maybe a more appropriate title would be, "Bone-numbing, windy, rainy cold with a 100% chance of some tasty, spicy, gut warming beef chili," but why mince words?

Fast All-American Beef Chili
Serves 4-6
The Best 30-minute Recipe (are you noticing a pattern yet?)

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
2-3 t minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 t sugar
salt and ground black pepper
2 T vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
3 T chili powder
2 t ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs 85% lean ground beef

1. Pulse tomatoes and their juice in food processor until slightly chunky, about 5 pulses.
2. Bring tomatoes, beans, chipotle chile, sugar, and 1/2 t salt to boil, covered, in large saucepan. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook until needed in step 5.
3. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over med. heat until shimmering. Add onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/4 t salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Increase heat to med-hi and add beef. Cook, breaking up beef with spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
5. Stir in tomato-bean mixture, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Don't forget all the classic chili accompaniments, such as cheese, cilantro, sour cream, crackers, etc...

And while we're on the subject of ground beef (weren't we?)...I like to buy mine in bulk from Costco or Sam's. When I get it home I brown all of it, breaking it up as it cooks. Then I drain all the grease off and freeze it. (The meat, not the fat. However, I would never judge you if you froze your fat.) This makes my recipes that use beef this way much less greasy and saves me a few minutes on a busy weeknight because I've found that I can simply thaw the meat for a minute or two in the microwave, then add it to the recipe. Which leaves me time to create long-winded run-on sentences, such as the previous one, that give English teachers nightmares and leave most people rolling their eyes.

I suggest you make this tonight, or tomorrow night, or any night really. But especially tonight. After all, it's in the forecast.

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