The weather is cooling off a little, so it’s time to pull out some of the dishes we haven’t cooked since last spring.
One of the first meals I leaned to cook was chili. As a matter of fact, this is what I fixed for Mrs. Poolman when we first started dating and I invited her for dinner. (It’s not very romantic. I don’t know why she came back for seconds, but she did.) When I cooked it in college, it acquired the name “Six-Pack Chili,” because if you spice it up, you need a six pack of beer to wash it down. The trick is to make it tasty enough that you want to keep eating it, even though it has a kick to it. Of course, you don’t have to make hot. That is an individual preference.
This recipe is very easy, which is why it’s a good beginner dish.
The key is in the chili powder and sugar, and cooking it long enough that it all melds together. We like to cook it down long enough so that it thickens and you can practically eat it with a fork. If you overdo it, just add some water. This amount will serve 2-4 people. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.
What you’ll need:
- One large can of tomatoes
- Two small, or one large can of kidney beans.
- App. 1.5 lbs of ground beef.
- A bunch of chopped onion.
- Chili powder
- Crushed red pepper.
- A few spoons of sugar to taste
1. Brown the ground beef.
2. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and smash them with your hands. (Lot’s of fun, but watch out, they squirt.) Alternate plan – puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.
3.Drain the ground beef. Add the tomatoes, onions, and beans. Pour a liberal amount of chili powder to the mixture and begin to cook.
4. Add a small amount of crushed red pepper. You can add more later as per your taste.
5. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, but you might want to put a lid half-on just to keep down the splatter. It will start out very soupy. We like to cook it down until it is fairly thick.
6. Continue tasting and adding chili powder and pepper. With a little practice, you can tell the right amount by the color of the brew. It should be a rusty brown, not red.
7. Check for bitterness. Add sugar to reduce the bite and bring out the flavor. (Sugar in chili? Sure! I know people who actually use chocolate. The idea is to diminish the tang created by the tomatoes and allow the base flavor to be the beef, beans and spices.)
You can serve as-is or with chopped onions, grated cheese and/or hot sauce to spice it more.
That looks delicious! And I am all over anything that’s simple to cook. I think I’ll cook some chili this weekend.
Good luck with it. As it cooks down, keep tasting and adding chili powder. I am always surprised how much I end up adding. Then use the sugar to take the tartness off the tomatoes. You end up with a thick, rich “stew” rather than a thinner, more tomato-ish “soup.”