Thursday, March 13, 2008

Winter Woods Chili

I had been keeping an eye out for a chili recipe that didn't use ground meat (I wanted chunks of beef) when I came across a recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine that looked pretty good. I tore it out and then procrastinated a while, but I finally made it last night. Um, hold on a sec while I search the web for the recipe so I don't have to type it all in...

[jazzy elevator music version of "Livin' on a Prayer"]

OK. Found it. Here's the original recipe:
4 slices bacon
3 lbs beef stew meat
1 large onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28ounce)cans whole tomatoes
1 (15 1/2ounce)can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 1/2ounce)can red beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
snipped fresh oregano (optional)
cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

1. In 4-6 qt Dutch oven cook bacon and beef, half at a time, over medium heat until beef is browned. Drain fat. Return meat to pan. Reduce heat; add onions and half of garlic. Cook and stir till onion is tender.

2. Add undrained tomatoes, beans, and 1 Tbsp of chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining garlic, chili powder, and vinegar. Cook, covered, 1 hour. Add water to desired consistency. Season to taste. Top servings with cheese, oregano, and crumbled bacon if desired.

This chili is heavy on the meat and light on the beans, which is how I like it. Too many beans ruins a good chili, but I think this chili actually could have supported the addition of another can of beans. It didn't need it, but it could have handled it with no ill effect. The above picture (which I got from the web page of the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens) is a little deceiving in that it pictures a greater ratio of beans to meat than existed.

The recipe calls for 2-3 tablespoons of chili powder; I used three. I added two of them at the same time as the tomatoes and beans and the last one with the second half of the garlic and the vinegar. In my opinion, the chili did not require the addition of any water; the consistency was perfect. I served it with shredded cheddar and sour cream. I would have also had crumbled bacon if I had been able to restrain myself and the other bacon mongers in the house from eating the cooked bacon before the chili was ready. The recipe also suggests fresh snipped oregano, but to me oregano belongs in Italian dishes, not chili.

If you enjoy a good chili, you should give this one a try. It wasn't too spicy for my oldest daughter, but had enough spice for my husband. If you like fire-breathing, eye-watering chili, just add some Tabasco sauce to your bowl. I imagine that would do it. Or you could just go with straight Tabasco. Because if you're breathing fire and your eyes are watering, are you really TASTING the chili?

For any of you wondering, I am walking with less pain today, though my knees still hurt if they get bumped, so I think they'll be okay soon. Luckily, I'm a pretty fast healer.

I am tired of not having a digital camera. I still use my Nikon N80, but that's for home use, it's too much of a pain to scan pictures in to use those shots here. I can not at the moment justify buying the camera I desperately covet, the Nikon D300 (but Nikon, if you're reading, I would gladly accept a free one in exchange for many laudatory posts on your wonderful product), so I need help deciding on one of those little silver jobs. Do any of you have one that you particularly love or hate? A feature to me that is of utmost importance is NO SHUTTER DELAY. I hate pushing the button for a perfect shot and waiting just long enough for the shot to SUCK before the camera actually takes the picture. So, help me out. What would you recommend and/or what should I steer clear of?