Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cold Weather is Chili Weather

Growing up in South Texas, any time the mercury dropped below 40ยบ, it was officially COLD.  Mom would whip up a big batch of chili and serve with homemade cornbread.  If she was feeling really industrious, she'd make a pan of cheese & onion enchiladas and top with some of the chili, pop in the oven and heat for about 30 mins.  To this day, I still prefer my enchiladas with chili rather than meat sauce or red sauce (or "gravy" if you're old school).  That's a recipe for a different day, though!

Now, something about chili. There's tons of ways to make it!  This is a basic recipe, but it's my favorite recipe. Also, chili isn't chili without beans.  Without beans, it's just meat sauce.  I'm not a fan of flaming hot chili  where all you taste is fire.  I prefer to taste the meat, the beans, and the seasonings.  My mouth thanks me for not setting it on fire, not to mention my intestinal tract!  Also, I have a very gringo husband who doesn't tolerate hot food, so I've had to tame down my original recipe and use "mild" chili powder rather than regular speed chili powder.  This makes an easy, slow-cooked meal that is not only tasty and filling, but fills your house with a lovely aroma throughout the day.

Homemade Chili With Beans

Pinto Beans  (Remember them from this post?   That's the base for this recipe.)
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey or a mix of turkey/beef
Chili Powder (Gebhardt Chili Powder is the bomb if you can find it)

Start with the pinto beans that have been simmering on your stove or in your crock pot all day.  Add chili powder to taste.  I use about 4 oz.  Crumble your meat into the mixture.  Stir and allow to simmer until the meat is done, about 30 minutes to an hour.  I like to slowly cook my meat so it absorbs all the flavors of the mix and cooks down a bit so the chili is thick, not runny like soup.

Easy peasy! 

The consummate way to eat chili in my family is to take your piece of cornbread and slice it in half horizontally.  Lay it in the bottom of a bowl face up.  Pour the chili on top, add grated cheese and chopped onions to the top and devour.  I don't like soggy cornbread, so I eat my cornbread on the side.  You can also serve over corn chips and have Frito pie.

 I've carted this recipe through 6 moves over the past 25 years.  I treasure this because I had called my mom one day to get the "recipe".  She never used a recipe for anything so while I knew how to make it, I didn't really know how to make it!  I was teaching school at the time n Kerrville, was in my first apartment, and living on my own for the first time.  I need to transfer it to a recipe card & put it in my recipe box so it's on heavier paper and in a more safe place, but when I need the recipe, I just look for this piece of paper, which is from a pad of letter writing paper.  On second thought, considering my husband dropped my recipe box and broke it, maybe this piece of paper is better!  He did repair my recipe box, though and it works great!

Enjoy your chili, and Robin, you don't have to add the onions!