Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spicy Beef Chili

I don't know about you, readers, but I've got the winter blues. I love the snow, I love when it's snowing, I loved the movie Frozen but I am tired of relying on soup for warmth. I've made a lot of soup these days and I think I've run out of vegetables I liked to puree (I'm open to suggestions but just know that celery soup does not appeal to me in the least). What's a girl to do but make stews and chili. Chili is a classic!

Christmas colored peppers
In alignment with the Super Bowl, many areas have Souper Bowl chili cook-offs. I have no idea where this tradition stems from but it's okay by me! I attended a couple of these contests but didn't enter (this year anyways). I was inspired by the 40+ varieties that were at one competition, there were so many different ones that by the time we reached the end, it was difficult to remember what was what. There's a psychological principle at work here where we remember the beginning and the end but not the middle. Sorry middle numbers, you got the short straw. There were some chilis that were way too spicy for me, it instantly burned my taste buds off and left my mouth tasting like metal. And then there were some that were so sweet, they tasted like brown sugar but with the consistency of meat. I felt like Goldie Locks with a spoon instead of a chair.

Nearly 40 varieties
So I set out in search of a nice and easy chili recipe that was simple for my first chili attempt. I found a recipe on Food52 and was intrigued that it used sweet elements like dark chocolate and brown sugar but also called for some heat. I took a little risk and erred on the side of more jalapeno than less but then again, I also erred on the side of more chocolate.

Just a little bit of sweet for the spicy
After chopping the onion, I browned the beef and onions together while chopping the remaining vegetables. I added mushrooms to the recipe since I had them in my refrigerator from last week's mac and cheese adventure. Pasta sauce tastes pretty good with mushrooms so it made sense to add them. Once the beef was browned, all the ingredients get dumped into the pot. I ended up leaving the crushed tomatoes out of the recipe. I added the can of black beans with the juices intact so it was already looking like a good consistency and I was worried that the crushed tomatoes would make it too soupy.

One pot of ingredients for easy clean up
While everything simmered together, I whipped up a batch of cookies. Just call me June Cleaver. The chili stewed for about 40-45 minutes before I tested a bite. This has just enough heat that by the end of the serving, you're sweating a bit but if you add a helping of cheese and sour cream, it evens right out. You can definitely taste the sweet in there with a hint of chocolate before the bite of the jalapeno.

I am quite the cookie monster!
Being a one pot recipe, the cleanup was easy! My favorite recipes are those that require both fresh and canned items because the prep and cleanup is nice and fast. The cookies also turned out deliciously but apparently are too exotic for children. The kids I shared them with drooled all over them before deciding they didn't like them. It was only two cookies, but that's two more I could have eaten to make a perfect dozen consumed my yours truly. Just call me Cookie Monster--June "The Cookie Monster" Cleaver. Thaaaat's me!

The final product with the cooling benefits of sour cream and cheese

 Recipe adapted from One-Pot Chocolate Beef Chili on Food52
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery  
  • Mushrooms or other vegetables you desire 
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can of black beans
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2-3 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin 
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  1. Combine ground beef and chopped onion in one pot and cook until the beef is browned.
  2. Chop the vegetables and add them to the beef along with all other ingredients to the pot and stir.
  3. Cover mixture and simmer mixture for 45 minutes or until all flavors are mixed well. 
  4. You can add crushed tomatoes to make it more liquidy but I prefer to leave it as meaty as possible.
  5. Serve with cheese and sour cream as desired. 

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