Friday, June 13, 2008

Chili recipe

This is one of the first time I've really tried to write down a recipe, so it's important to make the point that I'm roughly guessing at the seasoning amounts. I really just use these to taste. All measures are approximate but fairly close, so don’t take any of it too seriously, e.g. if you can only find a 16-oz can of tomato sauce, that’ll do fine!

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used ground round, 12% fat, I wouldn’t go much over 15% fat, and ground sirloin at 7% or 8% is too low)
  • Medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed seeded and cored, then finely chopped
  • Two 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes (if you like real chunky chili, you can substitute a can of whole tomatoes too)
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt (about half that of regular salt, but adjust to taste, too much is the easiest way to screw it up)
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin (you can use ground cumin from a jar or take cumin seeds, roast and grind them, which is better but is a pain in the ass; I almost never do it except when cooking, e.g. lamb or pork chops with cumin)
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander (you can substitute finely chopped fresh cilantro also, but it’s at like a 5:1 ration, i.e. 5 Tbsp fresh; you can also start with ground coriander and finish in the last ½ hour with fresh cilantro for a fresh flavor, but that’s not what you want sometimes
  • 1 Tbsp oregano, crumbled in your hands
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained but not washed

If you have a crock pot, that’s the best way to do the long part of the cooking. In that case you can do all of the meat and onion cooking in a big frying pan or chef’s pan. Otherwise, you can cook everything in a big pot.

  1. Brown the ground beef in a pot. Once it’s done, drain the fat and liquid off.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeno, and cook on medium heat until onions are soft (this shouldn’t ever get dry, so the garlic shouldn’t burn; if it does go ahead and stop).
  3. If you’re using a separate pan from the pot you’re cooking in, transfer to the cooking pot now.
  4. Add all of the tomatoes and spices and give it a good stir.
  5. Cover, put on low heat (if you’re using slow cooker, you can start on high to get it bubbling, then reduce to low), and walk away for a couple of hours. Check occasionally just to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings. I almost always end up adding a buttload more cumin and coriander cause it’s good. Those give it the savory aromatic flavors.
  7. Now let it cook as long as you want, but at least another two hours. Stir occasionally.
  8. Turn it off and let it sit and cool overnight. Taste again in the morning and adjust seasonings.
  9. Cook on simmer again during the day. It’ll be ready for dinner.
  10. Half an hour before you’re ready to serve, stir in the kidney beans and let heat.

A good variation is to finish with some lime juice and zest along with chopped fresh cilantro, to taste. Or you can just serve with lime slices and garnish on top with chopped cilantro and crumbled cotija or a glob of sour cream.

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