Chilly? Try Chili

Winter fail: only two mere inches of snow fell on us here in MD. So much for a much-needed snow day!

Many of you dear readers have, in fact, tucked yourselves in, cozily at home this week for a day or two of snow break - lucky you! If you're looking for some fuel to stay warm and well-fed, we've got two recipes for some tasty chili.

Scott received several compliments on the chili I made last week after co-workers smelled his lunch and asked for a couple tastes -- who knew a 20 minute chili recipe could illicit such things? I was floored, but it made me proud!

Be sure to add on some nice crispy tortilla chips, perhaps a little shredded Monterey jack, and if you're feeling spunky, a dollop of sour cream to top off your bowl. Think of these as accoutrement -- I like to use this word as much as possible, plus it's fun to say. Try it - "accoutrement." See, I told you. Fun.

The recipe I made last week is from Cooking Light - 20 Minute Chili. I opted not to serve it over rice (too much starch!) and I used ground pork instead of turkey and used a can of green chilies instead of fresh bell pepper. It was a wee bit spicy for us, so next time I might go easy on the chili powder, but if you like a little burn, go for it.

Coming up next month: the Super Bowl. Yay, sports. (Y'all know I do not do football or most organized brutish sports - I am an ACC basketball fan, though - Go Blue Devils!). Before you order pizza or dispense the obligatory chips and salsa or french onion dip, take a gander at David Rosengarten's It's All American Food cookbook for his Super Bowl Chili recipe.
I think it's the cinnamon that really does it for me -- it's the better-tasting twin of Cincinnati Skyline Chili, only without all those weird add-ins of chopped raw onion, cheddar cheese and spaghetti.

Here's how to do the thing:
Super Bowl Chili

Yield: 4 servings
I recommend using a deep skillet or stock pot.

¼ cup vegetable oil, or more if necessary
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, drained½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground beef chuck (or 1 pound if pork not available/desired)
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely diced
2 fresh hot green chilies, seeded and finely chopped (more or less to taste) NOTE: Canned, chopped green chilies work just as well
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth (homemade or canned), plus more if necessary
¾ cup beer
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Chili Spice Mixture (recipe follows)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 ounces canned kidney beans, drained

Chili Spice Mixture
3 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

Chili Instructions
1. NOTE: This step is optional; simply dice the tomatoes and add to Step 3 if less prep/clean-up are desired. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin layer of the vegetable oil. Slice all the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil over each tomato half, place the baking sheet in the oven, and roast them for about 1 hour. They will shrink a bit, concentrating their flavor, but should still be quite moist. Remove them from the oven, chop them coarsely, and reserve.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the meat and lightly brown it all over, reducing the heat if the mat threatens to burn, about 5 to 6 minutes (do this in batches if the skillet isn’t large enough to hold the meat in one layer). As the meat cooks, break up the larger chunks with a wooden spoon. Transfer the meat to a bowl and reserve.

3. Let the skillet cool slightly and place it over a medium-low heat, adding another 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the onion, chopped chiles, and garlic; cook gently for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth, beer, 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture, the ½ teaspoon salt, and tomato paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved tomatoes and meat, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring just to a boil. Immediately reduce to a bare simmer, cover loosely with a lid or foil and cook, very gently, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the beans and the remaining 1 teaspoon chili spice mixture, cover loosely, and cook for ½ hour more. When ready, the chili should resemble a stew with a thinnish liquid but shouldn’t at all be watery. Stir in additional broth or water if it seems a bit dry. Conversely, if the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, uncover the skillet and allow it to simmer until thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.