Monday, October 15, 2007

Kick-Off To Fall

hearty beef & beer chili

I'm so not a fan of the cold weather months, so this recent fall cool down we've been experiencing is not a welcome feeling for me. Yes, it's nice not breaking into a sweat everytime you walk outside. But knowing that fall has arrived has always been bittersweet to me because I know winter and nearly freezing temperatures will be here before I know it. One of the few things I enjoy about fall and winter is that it's cool enough that I can actually enjoy eating chili and soups. For whatever reason I've always left the soup and chili cooking to my Big Bad Dad, but last week I decided to tackle chili making myself, with a recipe I found from Cooking Light.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, adding a bit more cornmeal for thickening as the specified amount did nothing to actually thicken the chili, and I used diced tomatoes prepared especially for making chili which had peppers added. Also, I started cooking so that it was ready about an hour early, then I just cut it off and left the pot on the burner so that the flavors had a little more time to develope. That part was key, although I'm sure if you didn't have the extra hour to spare the chili would have still been good. It wasn't the best I've ever had, I think the spices need a bit of tweaking, but I will definitely make this recipe again.

As an aside, since there are just two of us and the recipe makes a decent size pot, I decided to use some of the leftovers for making nachos. They came out delish and were super quick, I just heated the chili then layered corn chips in a baking dish, added some of the chili, then some salsa and cheese, then another layer of the chips and so forth. I popped them under the broiler for a few minutes to heat everything through and get the cheese all bubbly. Yum!

Beef and Beer Chili

Cornmeal helps thicken the chili to a satisfying consistency. Serve with a chilled lager. Time: 41 minutes.

1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small)
8 ounces extralean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
1 (12-ounce) can/bottle beer (I used Miller)
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (omitted)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

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