QUICK SNOW DAY CHILI


Bowl of chili

Happy snowy weekend (snoweekend?) everyone! Hope you binge-watched something mindless and ate home-cooked goodies to your heart's content. I sure did. In honor of the snow, I made chili! I wanted to test out both of J. Kenji's omnivore chili recipies. But I couldn't bring myself to make two huge batches of chili at once. So I made the fast version. And it was amazing. Slow version, coming soon.

Introduction: This recipe has a few shortcuts (yay!): it calls for (1) bottled chili powder instead of dried chile paste; (2) ground meat instead of chunky stew beef (like short ribs); and (3) canned beans instead of dried, soaked beans. (I also used store-bought chicken stock.) Note: you can make your own super-flavorful chili powder by toasting whole cumin seeds and dried chiles and then grinding them along with paprika, oregano, and garlic powder. By toasting whole spices, you release oils (enhance flavor) and you produce some new and delicious chemical by-products (enhance complexity).

The ground meat in this recipe sadly cannot be browned the same way as say, short ribs. This is because the surface-area-to-volume ratio of ground meat is relatively high, so liquids escape when you heat it. The chipotle chiles in this recipe compensate for this and add a nice, smoky flavor. The canned beans are perhaps not as flavorful as soaked beans would be, but they are really fast and pretty perfectly cooked. The soy sauce (substitute with anchovies or Marmite) seems kind of random, but it adds some umami flavor (enhances meatiness).

Materials:

- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano

- Kosher salt and pepper

- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped

- 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

- scant 1/4 cup chili powder

- 1 tablespoon ground cumin

- 1/2 cup tomato paste

- 1 pound ground beef

- 1 pound ground pork

- 28 oz crushed tomatoes

- 15 oz canned red kidney beans, drained

- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, whisked with 1 tablespoon cold water

- Sour cream

- Cheddar cheese

- Corn chips

Methods: Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, oregano, and a pinch of kosher salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chiles, soy sauce, chili powder, and cumin and cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and pork and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, beans, chicken stock, and cornstarch/water mixture and stir. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer. Cook and stir occasionally for about 30 minutes. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and corn chips (for dipping).

Results and Discussion: Really yummy. Perfect snow day material. Will definitely make this again.