Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chili and Chocolate

The weather here has finally decided to become seasonal. At least for a day or two we are experiencing cold air and stuff coming out of the sky. With any luck, we will see a nice little dusting of snow tonight. After that we are back to Spring like temperatures. But to celebrate our winter, I decided I would make Chili.I make mine in stages and add ingredients at several times throughout the cooking period of four hours. That's why I don't toss it all into a crock-pot at the beginning of the day and walk away. If you have a weekend afternoon at home, and want a deeply warming and filling meal. But this is definitely a one pot, one cutting board, one chef knife and a wooden spoon kind of a meal. Easy clean up is always a plus in my book. I don't think you can do much better than a big bowl of chili topped off with freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese and an ice cold beer after a day of fixing fences or some other vigorous outdoor activity in the cold. .

So, what's with the chocolate? I guess I make a Peruvian version; or at least a South American version, because I like to add some coco to my chili. Like a mole sauce. I can't figure out how to get that accent over the e on the mole, but believe me, with this dish, it's there.

If you are eating locally, and you've grown a garden the previous year with most of these ingredients, you are in pretty good shape. You can use dried celery in this dish. Just soak it in the wine for about an hour before starting. The only "out of town" ingredients in this for me, is the sea salt and coco powder, but the brand I have is free trade. I got the corn grits from the gift shop at Strafford Hall. Locally grown and locally ground. I keep hoping they will grind other grains as well. Since I live at the Chesapeake Bay, I'm going to keep seeking ways to get salt locally. Seems like there should be a way.

feeds 4

1 pound Pastured ground beef
1 teaspoon of bacon grease if needed (see below)
1 pint beef bone broth
2 large yellow onions, chopped large
1 stalk of celery with leaves, chopped fine
3 small garlic cloves, minced very fine
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup corn grits
2 tablespoons real butter
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of organic coco powder
Sea salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper (set aside for now)
1 to 2 cups of shredded sharp cheese  (set aside for now)

Okay, First of all, this list is out of order, so follow me along here. The pastured beef should be fairly lean, start out browning it in a large cast iron pot. If it is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of bacon grease. When the meat is about halfway cooked, add your celery and onion. Cook them over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Now, add the minced garlic. Stir until you can just smell it start to sweeten, don't brown the garlic or it will become bitter. Now add your red wine. Stir it in well, turn the heat to low, put the lid on the pot, and walk away for 1/2 hour.

Pull all your seasoning together including the coco powder, but not the jalapeno. Sprinkle all the seasoning over the now, very mellow meat and veggie mixture. Stir it in well and then add the beef broth. Taste it. Add a little salt. Put the lid on and let it simmer on low or med low for about an hour. Come back and again taste for the salt. If it needs more, add it at this time. Again, let the mixture heat on low for about a two hours.

Okay, you are getting close to meal time (about an hour out) and folks are starting to ask about what smells so good. Now, it's time to add the jalapeno. Cut off the stem. Split it down the middle. If you know you and everyone you are feeding likes it HOT, mince up everything including the seeds and just toss it into the chili and stir. If you aren't sure, scrap out the seeds. Put them aside. Very finely mince the jalapeno pepper. Add two teaspoons to the chili. Stir. Taste. Taste again in about 15 minutes. If it's not hot enough, add another teaspoon or two and keep adding every 15 minutes or so until you are happy. If it's good for you, put the rest of the minced pepper in a small jar and top it off with a nice vinegar. Store in the frig. You can use it to pep up other meals as needed. If you like your chili mild, but you have a heat seeker in your family, leave out the minced jalapeno next to the cheddar cheese and they can add their own version of hot when they get their bowl for dinner.

You will have noted long before this, that this chili seems sort of runny. One half hour before you serve, stir in the corn grits. Put the lid on. Keep temperature on low. The grits will thicken the chili and add quite a bit of substance with a minimal of carbs -- you are, after all, splitting one serving of grits between four servings of chili.

Serve in big bowls and top with the shredded cheese.

If you cannot eat corn, decrease the broth to 1/2 pint. Add one tablespoon of Arrowroot powder at the same time you would have added the grits.

I serve this with canned figs topped with cream for dessert.

No comments:

Post a Comment