Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When Life Defrosts Your Freezer...Make Chili

A couple of weeks ago we suffered a major beef-related catastrophe (hereafter referred to as Meltdown '08). Somehow, the chest freezer which holds our precious cargo of beef came unplugged and over the course of several days defrosted about half of the beef left in the freezer. I discovered the mess one evening and proceeded to have a gigantic screaming fit complete with abundant cursing. Unfortunately, we were forced to dispose of a large amount of beef as it had defrosted and warmed to the point of smelling bad. Only the layers stored deepest in the freezer survived Meltdown '08. Unfortunately, the bulk of this was ground beef. All of the delicious cuts of rib steaks, T-bone steaks, the livers, and most of the chuck roasts, arm roasts, and short ribs were a total loss. I was left with all these one-pound bags of ground beef. So what does one do with 30 pounds of ground beef?

Make chili, of course! Even better, make it with one's beloved stash of Rancho Gordo beans!

Aren't they gorgeous!

I found this recipe at the Rancho Gordo Web site.

Black Bean Chili
  • 1/2 lb dry black beans or 1 15-oz can black beans
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh plum tomatoes, skinned and halved or 1 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Olive oil
If using dry black beans, soak and then cook beans according to package directions. Have the beans simmering and just tender and ready to add to the chili when called for.

If using fresh plum tomatoes, the skins can be easily removed by first making a shallow "X" cut on the bottom of each tomato and then blanching them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, slide them into an ice bath, and peel the skins off once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions until lightly golden. Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork and cook, stirring often, until browned. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and salt, stirring well. Add black beans to chili base with the can juice or a small amount of simmering liquid, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Almost ready to eat. Yum!

Serve topped with your choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, corn bread, hot sauce, salsa, tortilla chips...whatever you desire!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chuck Wagon Chili

Ever since I purchased a large amount of beans from Rancho Gordo I have been searching for excuses to use them. What better way to put my Scarlet Runner beans to good use than in a hearty beef and pork chili?

Rancho Gordo's Scarlet Runner heirloom beans. Majestic!

Before I left for work Friday morning I placed 1/2 lb of these beans in cold water to soak while I was away. I had to do something after work on Friday and I wouldn't be home in time to cook dinner before John and I had to leave for our concert in Ann Arbor. Thus, it was time for John Cooks! I gave him instructions to begin cooking the beans as soon as he got home from work so they would be tender enough to add to the chili when I got home. Things turned out beautifully.

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 lb ground lean beef
  • 1/2 lb ground lean pork
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp seeded and minced jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 15.5-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • fat-free sour cream
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or soup pot over medium heat. Add the beef and pork; cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, water, jalapenos (if using), chili powder, cumin, salt, and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook until heated through, 5 minutes. Serve with the cheese, scallions, and sour cream.

I had this with a Stone Brewing Company IPA.