Monday, December 7, 2009

Chili Time

Growing up, my mom made chili every winter. Or fall. Not really sure if it had any kind of significance to the time-frame but nonetheless, she made chili pretty regularly. And it was great fun. When I went off to school in Idaho, I decided my tradition would be to make chili on the first day it snowed. Being back in NC, I can't keep with this tradition since it doesn't snow much. This weekend, one that was particularly rainy and cold, Jericho and I had my parents over for lunch and I decided to make chili! I was crunched on time so instead of making the recipe that I usually use, I went for a variation that was a bit quicker. After much research I settled on this recipe that apparently is served at this restaurant. I changed it a little since it's chili and pretty hard to mess up and you can do whatever you want with it. I absolutely loved how it turned out. Just enough spice. Just enough meat. Just enough beans. After our second meal of the chili, Jericho told me that I had changed his affection for chili. Unknown to me, Jericho had a bad association with chili for a number of years (due to being sick at the same time as eating chili, not because of the chili) and therefore lost his taste for it. Yet another testimony why this chili is fantastic!

Here is my changed recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package of pork sausage
2 medium onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 little can of tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
3 tablespoons Southwest Grilling Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained
1 16-ounce can yellow corn
2 cups water

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the sausage and cook over high heat, breaking it up, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, beans, corn and water and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the chili with cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Some notes on my changes:
-  I don't have an "enameled cast-iron casserole." I'm not even sure what that is. I used a large saute pan for the first step, then dumped everything into the big pot when it was time to add the beans and other liquids.

-  If you get the sausage in links, remove the casings. I got the ground kind, like how you usually get ground beef. Much more convenient that way. I don't like a lot of meat in my chili but it would be perfectly fine to use more than 1 package. Don't go too crazy. This isn't spaghetti sauce.

-  I got a green pepper mainly because the grocery store didn't have any red. Didn't seem to make a difference. Green creates more color contrast though.

-  Tomato paste- I don't remember the ounce size, but it's the smallest can you can buy. I put the whole can in instead of just the 2 tablespoons because I had no use for half a can of tomato paste.

-  The Southwest seasoning thing is one of those premixed seasoning concoctions that appeared in my cabinet, I think from a former roommate. I like these because I can be lazy when I'm cooking something like chicken or potatoes and I get tired of "Italian seasoning" on everything. I didn't have any cumin but this mix did, as well as a bunch of other fun spices that seemed like they'd be good in chili, so I dumped a bunch in.

-  I couldn't believe there was a chili recipe that didn't call for any kind of red pepper seasoning. I put in about 2 dashes, which I'm guessing was about 1/2 tsp. It was the perfect amount of kick for me. I like spicy but just the little-bit-of-linger kind, not the breathing-fire kind.

-  I added the first two cups of water and thought it looked like enough so I stopped. And it was. I'm not sure why this recipe would need 4 cups of water. Use your judgment.

-  I split up the beans into two kinds because I thought it would add some variety and it made it look prettier. Also the reason why I added a whole can of corn instead of just a cup. It did indeed make a very pretty chili.

Also as part of my tradition, I make corn bread with my chili. I got this recipe from a former roommate in college. We call it "Corn Cake" because it pretty much is. I've never served it to anyone that has felt the need to put butter on it, even my father.  You know how most corn bread crumbles like a sand castle at the slightest touch? Yeah, not this bread. It's that incredibly moist and sweet.

Corn Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Mix in dry ingredients. Add milk last (YES! you will use all of the milk). Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. (I often cook for about 15 minutes longer than this, but it could just be my oven.)


  1. It was fabulous Chili! My daughter is a good cook! It's so nice to have her cook for us:) Cornbread WAS yummy without butter, however, I assure you that if there had been butter on the table, Dad would have used it. He can't help himself:)

  2. Oooh, that sounds yummy! I think I'll try it...and maybe with some ground turkey...I can't help but change all meats to either chicken or turkey. Thanks for sharing, and your picture looks great! Did you take that yourself? I like the focused look.

  3. Update: I forgot to include that I added brown sugar! (see above in the ingredients) It's a great balance to the spice.


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