bean-and-beef chili

This week I was in space cadet mode.  Things I forgot included:

-My gloves on a 20 degrees morning. That’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

-To give the cat her beloved wet food one night (sorry, Remy).

-To wear deodorant on Tuesday (I keep a stick in my desk at work for just such an occasion).

I also apparently went brain dead when making this chili the other night. How can I be sure?  Well, let’s examine the facts: I started a 3-hour dinner at 7 pm on a night when I had to go to bed at 10 (I get up at 5 am…I swear I’m not as grandma-ish as I seem). I didn’t brew the “strong coffee/espresso”.  I never bought, and therefore didn’t have, a 28 ounce can of Roma tomatoes.  Oh, and my beef broth had expired.  So, basically, I had everything going for me.

And yet, miraculously, this chili didn’t suck.  Not only did it NOT suck, it was actually really good.  Maybe I’m not as inept in the kitchen as I’ve always believed, because I was amazingly capable of using other ingredients in lieu of the ones I missed/neglected.  So, instead of the coffee, I used a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder (a tip from a Smitten Kitchen chili recipe).  The 28 ounces of Roma tomatoes were replaced with a can of tomato puree and a can of stewed tomatoes.  Beef broth was subbed out with beef stock.  And I only cooked the chili for 1.5 hours instead of the suggested 2 hours, leaving the meat extra-tender.

I’m notating the “Food Network Magazine” and “Katie” versions below, so that you can choose which one to go with.  I won’t be hurt if you don’t choose my version, but it might compromise our friendship, and I don’t know that you want that on your conscience.

Bean-and-Beef Chili

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine, January/February issue

2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed

3 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large onions, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed with your hands (or 1 can of tomato puree and 1 can of stewed tomatoes)

1 and 3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth (or stock)

1/2 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee (or 1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa)

2 15-oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or diced avocado, for topping

1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper.  Brown in batches, about 4 minutes, adding more oil as needed.  Transfer to a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pot.  Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup chili powder, the oregano and tomato paste; cook, stirring, 30 seconds.

3. Return the meat to the pot and stir in the tomatoes (or tomato puree and stewed tomatoes), broth/stock, espresso (or unsweetened cocoa powder), and pinto beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours (or 1 and 1/2 hours).

4. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons chili powder into the chili.  Divide among bowls.  Top with cheese, sour cream, and/or avocado.

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