Thursday, October 06, 2005

Chili and Football

On Sunday I hosted a little Raisinhater partial-family gathering. In attendance were J and my brothers R and P Raisinhater. We also had B Almost-Raisinhater, a family friend and a fan of frequent channel changing. R, P, and B A-R came over around 4 for an afternoon of football and snacks. I had elaborate plans for a multi-appetizer menu, but I was so exhausted from the morning’s training run (15 miles!) that I commenced Stella based carbohydrate replenishment immediately upon their arrival.

Once strengthened, P and I ventured out for provisions. I scaled back the list so the modified menu included Ruffles and onion dip, chili and biscuits. My mother makes a fabulous dip of caramelized onions; it is sweet and salty and sharp and creamy all at the same time. Because I could hardly move my limbs, I made Lipton “Recipe Secrets” Onion Dip instead. (What is the secret – the sour cream into which you mix the packet of dip mix?). It was fantastic in its own special way, and was enhanced by the Ruffly chips. Here is R Raisinhater about to enjoy a generous scoop of dip.

The rest of the menu, chili and biscuits, was designed for group enjoyment, easy cooking, low cost, and football friendliness. I certainly did not make the biscuits from scratch – not for this occasion. Not that the group isn’t worthy, but I am a picky biscuit eater and I didn’t have the time, the energy, or the skillz, to do things right. Furthermore, I had these fabulous biscuits sitting in my freezer just waiting for a day like this one. So all I really made was the chili, and I think it was quite good! I based it on,
but I made a number of modifications. Here is what I did…

2 large yellow onions
2 cloves garlic
2lbs ground chuck
1lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 ¼ cups beef broth
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can peeled tomatos
1 T tomato paste
3 T cider vinegar
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dried orégano
1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 green pepper
1 can kidney beans

I chopped two fairly large onions, threw them in the big nonstick pot with about 3T olive oil, and added two minced cloves of garlic. I cooked over med-low until the onion was translucent, turned up the heat to medium, and added the ground chuck and the sausage. I cooked, stirring frequently, until the meat was no longer pink. (Next time, I would put the sausage in first and let it cook for a minute or two before adding the beef, just so the beef doesn’t overcook). Once the pink was gone, I added the beef broth, tomato sauce, peeled tomatos, tomato paste, and vinegar and returned to a boil. I added the spice mixture. I turned it down to a simmer cooked for an hour to 70 minutes. I added the chopped pepper and the beans and simmered for 15 more minutes. Initially I thought that in the future I would cook it even longer, as it was a bit saucy, but the leftovers were quite thick so maybe not. Here is a photo of it bubbling away...

Things I would change – I would add 1 cup of beef broth, rather than 1 ¼ cups. I would use diced tomatoes rather than whole peeled, as I ended up having to pull them all out and chop them up anyway, I would add a bit more tomato paste. I would add a bit of anchovy paste. (I wanted to on the first go round, but got scared. Why? I do not know. Next time I’m going to do it.) I would perhaps do 1.5 lbs each of sausage and beef, though those amounts are harder to buy. I would even consider doing 2lbs sausage and 1lb beef, very exciting! The green pepper initially seemed superfluous but was actually quite good. We left out the carrots because the Raisinhaters don’t like cooked carrots unless Mom Raisinhater makes them. We disregarded any suggestions to add sweet things to the chili, such as brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, etc. Not that those things are bad, but it just wasn’t that kind of chili. In my opinion, that sort of behavior is only appropriate with the shredded meat type of chili.

I served the chili with biscuits on the side and cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Additionally, we crunched up fritos and added them right in – absolutely delicious. There was sour cream on the side for those who wanted it (like me).

The chili was excellent leftover. I wish I’d made twice as much.


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