Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fast Chili

I don't usually blog cooking and recipes, but successful experiments need to be bragged about, so...

A couple months ago, in an issue of Men's Health (the online version), this recipe for chili appeared:

What you'll need:

1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp mixed herbs
1 tsp olive oil
4 oz ground turkey
2 tomatoes, diced
2 c pinto beans
1 c button mushrooms
2 bay leaves
Dash of black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
2 chili peppers, chopped
In a pan, saute the onion, garlic, and herbs in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Place the turkey in the pan and saute for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, and mushrooms and let the mixture simmer for another 5 minutes. Finally, add the bay leaves, black pepper, paprika, and chili peppers. Let it all simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. If you can bear the wait, let it sit for a day: It tastes even better the next day.
Now, eveyone here at the Cavern really likes chili. I'm the minority vote that keeps having problems after the fact, so we don't have it very often. But this notation at the bottom caught my eye:

Note: If you're worried about the "rumblings" later from the beans, buy canned beans, rinse them well in a colander, and puree them in a blender or food processor with a little water. It'll break down the fiber and carbohydrates often associated with gas.

Aha! I thought. Canned, rinsed beans were the answer to the problem? And if I'm going to experiment with changing one thing, why not change a few more things while I'm at it?

My thoughts in note form:

1. Half an onion is wimpy. Use two.

2. Ditto two cloves of garlic -- use the whole head.

3. I have no idea what "mixed herbs" are, but this recipe doesn't mention chili powder, so let's change it to chili powder.

4. I never measure olive oil -- it's good for you, so get rid of the measurement (which is also wimpy).

5. And now to the real bone of contention: nobody here likes turkey, ground or otherwise, so get rid of it altogether. Use ground beef -- or to make it vegetarian, skip the meat altogether and use kernel corn (frozen, about 1 pound).

6. Two tomatoes don't sound like enough, unless they're the size of Nova Scotia; and if we're already using canned beans, why not canned tomatoes?

7. Pinto beans we don't have. We do have red kidney and garbanzo, so we'll just substitute those -- beans is beans, right?

8. One cup mushrooms? Button mushrooms? Nobody here has the patience to pick through the mushrooms for the ones you could sew on a shirt (if you could sew), so let's just say a large handful of mushroom, chopped if necessary. Two handsful if you like mushrooms a lot.

9. We don't have a bay tree, so screw the bay leaf.

10. Salt and pepper are usually added after the cooking is done.

11. And since paprika is added for color more than anything else, and the chili powder is already red, ditto the tomatoes, dump the paprika.

12. I actually bought the chili peppers, and ended up not having to use them on account of I'd accidentally also bought the HOT version of chili powder!

And the altered recipe, after fussing and playing with it a few times, came out like this:

2 medium onions, chopped
1 head garlic, roughly chopped
1 - 4 Tablespoons chili powder (to taste, obviously -- start with one; you can always add more)
olive oil
1 pound frozen kernel corn
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and rough chopped
3 19-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 19-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls muchrooms in bite-sized pieces
2 chili peppers (optional)
First, build yourself a Bloody Mary with the juice you drained from the canned whole tomatoes. Waste not, want not.
Heat a large dutch oven to medium , and after the pot is hot, then add the olive oil (hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick -- the late Jeff Smith {The Frugal Gourmet}. He was right). Saute the onions and garlic until just translucent (no browning), then add the chili powder, stirring quickly. Don't inhale the steam! Add the crushed tomatoes, the whole tomatoes, the corn, the mushrooms. Stir occasionally until corn is no longer frozen and the mushrooms have started to soften. Add the drained and rinsed beans, and mix well. Reduce heat to low-medium, and let it all simmer for half an hour to an hour, stirring occasionally.
If you really prefer meat in your chili, use a pound of ground beef, cooked and well drained, in the place of the corn.
Serve in huge bowls with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, crusty bread, and maybe a green salad.
It's better the second day, so make enough for leftovers.


Anonymous DazzlinDino said...

Oh man I love Chille, but like you, my family hates me having chilli. I can fart both the American and Canadian National Anthems, on time and in key, after a good batch. My family, friends, and neighbors thank you for the tip dude....

Friday, June 23, 2006 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous dez said...

I would use a can of black beans instead of garbanzos, but that's just a personal preference.

The last time I made chili (which is a regular occurance in my household) I mixed red kidney beans with black beans and white navy beans. I also used corn, and ground chicken. Some chopped onion, tomato and bell peppers helped, too. (Did I mention that I was a cook in US Coast Guard?) Otherwise, my recipe was very similar to yours.

My wife likes a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream with her chili. I will actually spoon in some hot salsa for extra heat - I have been known to chop up a whole jalapeno pepper just for my own bowl of chili. I like it hot!

Side dishes often include corn bread (with honey and/or margarine) or spanish rice.

Up until now, I have never found a way to cut down on the gas problem. Since methane has 4 times the greenhouse effect compared to CO2, your method of decreasing the gas producing effect of beans could be just the thing to save the planet from global warming!


Saturday, June 24, 2006 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Dazz: On time and in key? I'm impressed, guy! That would make you a better musician than some musicians I know! LOL!

Dez: Black beans, pintos...I used garbanzos 'cause that's what was in the cupboard, but you can use anything. For me, the purpose was to get a color variation. And the reason I used corn was to eliminate the need for meat (the recipe's original purpose was high-fiber and low fat) -- legume plus grain equals complete protein. I like the color visuals of the dish you make -- black, white, red, yellow, green (plus I like green pepper, so I'll add some to my next batch, thanks). But if you really like it hot, forget about the jalapenos and go for the habaneros! This is the habanero sauce I use:

...then click on KutBil-Ik on the sidebar to see what the bottle looks like. I guarantee, if it's too hot to eat, it makes a fine paint stripper -- just lock the open bottle and the item from which you want the paint peeled in a closed room for an hour. Be wearing a breathing rig when you reopen the door.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 8:30:00 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Chimera, paprika is only for colour if you buy the wimpy $hit at safeway. Go to a European market or spice store at a trendy mall and buy the hot Hungarian paprika. Beats the hell out of chili powder.

I will try this recipe with all the variations this week, it sounds interesting!

Sunday, June 25, 2006 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Hot Hungarian paprika? Now, that sounds intriguing. It goes on the to-be-investigated- list. Thanks.

Monday, June 26, 2006 8:58:00 AM  

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