Monday, November 29, 2010

Recipe: Chili Con Carne

I'm new at chili-making, but after a few different approaches I've cobbled together a recipe I like. It's low in fat, high in fiber, freezes for extra meals, and feeds the manfriend via a Thermos when he's off battling the forces of evil in his office in downtown Boston.

Prep note, this recipe requires you to soak dried beans overnight, so there is some minor planning involved.

What you need:

1½ cups dried kidney beans
¾ cup dried white or pinto beans
8 oz. ground beef (grass-fed organic if you want to go to heaven) or ground buffalo, turkey, chicken, etc.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 14.5 oz. can of stewed and diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
tomato sauce, as needed (marinara is fine, but the simpler the better)
2 bell peppers, any color, diced
chili powder
black pepper
red pepper flakes

What to do:

1. The night before, put dried beans in a large sauce pan or a stew pot and cover with lots of cold water—enough water that the beans will still be submerged after they've expanded to three times their dried size. Cover and let sit at room temperature until you begin cooking the next day.

2. Remove any beans floating on the surface. Drain and rinse the beans and re-cover with fresh water. Simmer them on medium-low heat for about an hour, or until beans are nearly cooked (when they're fully cooked, they shouldn't have a mealy or chalky texture). If you aren't sure if they're ready, that's okay—you'll just cook them longer later in the recipe. Also, do not add any salt during this step—it affects the way the beans cook.

3. Drain the beans in a sieve. In the now empty pot, brown the beef and the chopped onion. If you're using ground chicken or turkey, add olive oil as needed. Drain the fat for a leaner dish, or keep it in for flavor.

4. Add in the beans, corn, the stewed tomatoes, and the tomato paste, and stir. If the dish looks too bean-heavy and you'd like a stronger tomato base, add tomato sauce until the consistency is to your taste. Turn heat to low and simmer for another hour, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan every 10–15 minutes.

5. Taste a few beans to make sure they're fully cooked. If not, keep simmering. If they're done, keep everything simmering and add the diced peppers. Add salt, black pepper, chili powder, and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook until peppers are soft.

Makes 4 meal-sizes servings. Freezes and reheats like a dream.

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