Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chili today, ... uh, still chili tomorrow, probably!

Tonight's Menu

  • chili con carne
  • beer bread
  • green salad "bar"
A cold front blew through central Texas last night, leaving us with chilly temperatures and a blustery wind today -- perfect chili weather! My go-to recipe for chili is this one from Martha Stewart, but I have yet to actually make it exactly as written. Here's how I made today's version.

canola oil
2-3 lbs. beef shoulder or chuck, cut into teensy dice (not quite a mince, but almost)
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs ancho chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 (28 oz.) can Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Crushed Tomatoes (feel free to use whichever crushed tomatoes you like, or whole tomatoes whizzed in the blender)
2 (12 oz.) bottles beer (use a beer you would actually drink; I went with Dos Equis Amber)
coarse salt
1 Tbs white vinegar

Okay, once you've chopped/diced/minced the hell out of everything, begin browning the beef in batches in a big pot with a little canola oil. You'll be removing each batch of meat to a plate as it gets browned, and adding more oil as needed. Once all the meat is browned, dump the onions and garlic into the pot and stir over medium heat until they've gone a bit soft (DO NOT burn the garlic!). Then add the chili powder, cumin, oregano and bay leaf in with the onions and garlic, cooking and stirring for about a minute until it all goes nice and fragrant. Add the meat back into the pan, along with the tomatoes and beer. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the broth has thickened a bit. Remove the bay leaf, salt to taste and stir in the vinegar (I have no idea what the vinegar is supposed to do, but Martha says to add it and I must obey). I serve this with shredded cheddar and sliced green onions on the side. Yum!

The beer bread is SO super easy to make, and so good! I use this recipe (with only 1/4 cup of butter) and it comes out perfect. Again, you will want to use a beer you would actually drink. DH is a fan of wheat beers and they work really well in this recipe. Tonight it was a bottle of Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, which made the bread a little bit sweet and almost cake-like. Delicious!

Astute readers will note that tonight's dinner contained THREE BOTTLES of beer. And that's not including the beer with which we washed it all down. Perhaps that had something to do with how delicious we found this particular meal!

There was no leftover bread, but quite a bit of leftover chili. Tomorrow's dinner: Frito Pie!

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