Chilly Chili Chile

I’m sorry. You know, about the title. It just seems so clever in my current state of half-asleep afternoon blahs that I want to keep it.

Since we got our chest freezer all set up on Sunday night, I’ve made several attempts to design a once a month cooking menu. All have failed, but I do have a list of dishes to make, and I suppose spreading out their making over a week or two isn’t going to hurt. Plus I can get the hang of the process, and figure out whether something really does freeze well before I make 87 pounds of it and THEN realize it tastes like freezer-burned ass.

I did want to get a few things in there right away, though. I figured it would make me feel accomplished, which naturally turned out to be true. One of my favorite meals (and my husband agrees; it’s amazing) is chili and cornbread, and we happened to have ground venison in the freezer from the in-laws. I made a big pot and socked four meals’ worth into the freezer. Which needs a name, by the way; I feel like I’ve said “freezer” way too many times in this post already. I also froze the leftover cooked beans (Great Northerns, cooked plain plain plain in water) and half the cornbread. Mmm. Hm. I didn’t feel like busting out the FoodSaver, as it is unwieldy and a pain in the rear, so I used one of those Ziploc manual vacuum sealing bag thingies and… yeah. The FoodSaver may have to find itself a new home, because the pump is much easier. More on that as I hem and haw and hem some more about whether or not to sell it.

Meanwhile, here is a chili recipe to keep you happy. It was originally based on a Sara Moulton recipe, though I have long since lost the original.

Southwestern Chili, Yes With Ground Meat you Texans, Sorry

  • 2lb. ground meat (normally I use 50/50 pork and beef, but whatever’s clever)
    2T vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, guess how it’s chopped?
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, smushed, or pressed
  • 3T tomato paste
  • 1/4c chili powder (buy the Penzey’s Medium Hot, if you don’t want to make your own)
  • 1-28oz. can of whole tomatoes, squished up with your hands (do not wear a white shirt)
  • 2c beef broth or stock
  • 2T apple cider vinegar
  • 1oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 3c cooked beans
  • salt & pepper

Heat a big heavy-bottomed (hey! like me!) pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Brown the ground meat — really brown it! Not grey, brown! Add the onions and peppers and brown those, too. Nothing needs to cook through at this point. We’re looking for Maillard reactions and general deliciousness.

Get the stock handy, like, right next to you. Add the tomato paste and let it cook for a minute. You’ll want to stir it so it doesn’t burn. Add the chili powder and stir and cook another 45 seconds or so. There will be fumes. If you sense imminent burnination, put the stock in. Otherwise, keep stirring for that whole 45 seconds, then add the stock. Next up, the garlic, squished tomatoes, vinegar, chocolate, and a gooooood healthy pinch of salt, really more like 2t. Stir until the chocolate melts; at this point it’s probably at a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours. It’s cooked in far less time but letting the flavors meld means it will taste better. DO IT.

15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, make some cornbread and throw the beans in with the chili so they can pick up flavor and warm through.

Makes about 10 servings, and freezes really well. Better as leftovers. Really.


2 thoughts on “Chilly Chili Chile

  1. I’ve just started trying to freeze meals as a way to get myself organized. Sadly, I’ve had very little luck. It really shouldn’t be so difficult! 🙂
    I’m bookmarking this recipe and I’ll definitely be giving it a try. It’ll be perfect for the fall.

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