Wednesday, October 21, 2009

(Frozen) Chili

I am sad. My laptop is still not set up. I had to wait for it to come in (custom build, so they had to ship it) and now I'm waiting for my computer buddy Jim to move all my stuff from my old one to my new one. Yes, I could do it myself, but it would take me one day to his one hour, and there would be a lot of swearing involved. He removed them both from my sight yesterday to copy everything over and I hope he'll have it to me tomorrow. Why is this relevant? Because my MasterCook files are on my old machine and I didn't move them over to this temporary machine. That means no pulling up my "To Try" cookbooks to find something to cook, and if I do find something cool on the internets, I can't import it into MasterCook. Blah blah blahbitty blah, there went my motivation. I like being able to get organized with my creativity. I know you feel very bad for me. Thank you.

Since I'm sulking, I don't really feel much like cooking tonight. And it's officially chili weather. So I am pulling out chili I made a while back and stuck in the freezer. I always make more than we can eat. Tonight's dinner prep so far has consisted of thunking a big hunk of frozen chili into a pot. But I DID cook it at some point.

Now I am going to let you in on a dirty little family secret. The Family Chili Recipe, handed down from generation to generation. (Specifically, my mother's generation to my generation, since this is my mom's recipe.)

[Insert opening to Also sprach Zarathustra here]

Yes, people, that's right. It's a mix! (A mix?) A mix, Ben! I know, I know. This is supposed to be a COOKING blog! Not that - what is it - "Semi-homemade" stuff with doctored up Betty Crocker. I will say that as far as I recall, this is the ONLY dish I make with any kind of a mix. And I do modify it. (That's what separates me from the hoi polloi - HA!) But you know, if it's good, it's good. So here's the formula, since I hesitate to call it a recipe.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. of lean ground beef or turkey, or half and half. (It's better with beef)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 bottle good beer (my favorite is Negra Modelo. Obviously, I drink the other half. Did I need to say that?)
1 package Wick Fowler's 2 Alarm Chili MIX (That's right!)

OK, now pay attention, because I don't just dump in everything from the box all willy-nilly. Here we go, kids.

In a large, heavy pot (2 quart works fine), turn the heat to medium. Sautee the onion in the olive oil, then add the garlic. Add the ground beef when the onion is transluscent. Stir and brown the ground beef. I usually add a healthy pinch of kosher salt here and a good grind of black peppercorns. Strain off any grease. (If you use lean ground beef, there shouldn't be much.) OK get ready. Here's where the mix comes in.

Add the following packages from the mix box:
All of the chili pepper
All of the paprika
All of the cumin/oregano
All of the onion/garlic (Oh, what the hell? It won't add much, but it won't hurt.)

Now. That's where I stop. The Masa is to thicken the chili, which I've never found I needed. The cayenne pepper is for you real men out there who like your food HOT. I find this chili plenty hot enough without adding that. I already salted the meat. You can taste it and see if you think it needs more salt, but dang, that's a lot of salt, and I don't think it needs it. And I love me some salt. I don't know what Wick was thinking with that.

Stir in all those spices, then add the tomato sauce and the beans. Drink half the beer, then pour the rest into the chili. If you do like I do, and drink more than half the beer, open another one and use the beer to thin the chili to a good consistency. Then drink whatever is left over. Negra goes well with this chili.

Simmer that as long as you can get away with before dinner. The longer the better, over low heat, and stir it occasionally, or it will make a godawful mess on the bottom of the pot.

When I was growing up, Mom always served this with sweet gherkins, celery and carrots as go-withs. I like to do the same, and add grated cheese and sour cream for the top of the chili and maybe some crisped tortillas. (Although I'd honestly prefer Fritos, which my husband, my conscience, Tony Horton and Beach Body won't let me buy.) Tonight, I'm serving it with a side of browned apple slices with a little lemon juice and maple syrup. Not much.

Let me head off the great Chili debate here. I know there are thousands of wonderful chili recipes I should try, many of which are much MUCH better than this crap I'm pushing. I know that there are the beanless disciples of pure Texas Chili who would call me a heretic and throw dried chili peppers at me. I know that my mother is possibly going to read this blog and say "I can't believe you gave away our secret in public!" AND I know that my brother's wife is probably going to read this blog and say "You know... I never have liked that chili." But it's nippy outside, my husband (The Pootie Pie) is in the den doing Ab Ripper X and dinner is up to me. And I say, it's a good night for Wick Fowler's Doctored-Up-Alarming-Frozen-I-Don't-Have-To-Do-Much Chili.

And the rest of the Negra Modelo.


Hope said...

Ummmm, well, hmmm. So should I feel bad that my lifes goal is to FIND shortcuts :P

I cheat w/ mixes and premades as MUCH as I can :D

I may try adding some beer to my AWESOME "homemade" Chili recipe (which uses McCormick Chili packets)

Hope said...

OH! And if you think Fritos are good on chili, you really should NOT try Dorritos :O