Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chunky Beef Chili

Earlier this week, you’ll recall, I was rejoicing in the fact that fall appeared to be on the horizon.  So much for that.  Today I decided to bust out the slow cooker again–but this time with the intention of arm wrestling autumn into showing up on my doorstep.  I simply refuse to believe that 100-degree temperatures are in any way appropriate for September.  And I’m confident that Mother Nature will agree with me, eventually, if I just keep making chili.

You may also recall that, not too long ago, I posted a recipe for Slow Cooker Chili.  How is this recipe any different, you might ask?  There are only a few key differences, but they really do influence the finished product in significant ways.  First of all, this version of chili calls for chunks of beef rather than ground beef.  You can use stew beef–which is cheap and, therefore, always a good option–or you can buy a pound of higher-quality sirloin and cut it into chunks.  Either way, you’re going to end up with a chili that isn’t as thick as what you might be accustomed to; instead, this is more of a chili-flavored beef stew.  (In fact, The Girl suggested I should combine those terms and call this recipe Beef Chew.)

Secondly, this recipe calls for two cans of Ro-tel brand diced tomatoes with green chilies, but no crushed tomatoes.  I’m being specific about the Ro-Tel brand only because the chilies add a fair amount of heat; if you prefer another brand and know its level of spiciness suits you better, feel free to go with that.  Most importantly, the diced tomatoes keep the chili chunky.  A can of tomato paste and some beef broth replace the liquid that would normally be added with the crushed tomatoes.

Finally, this recipe calls for only one can of black beans rather than two cans of kidney beans.  Using a smaller amount of beans (and, actually, smaller beans) allows the larger pieces of beef to play a starring role in the chili, much as they do in beef stew.

We enjoyed our Chunky Chili dinner with a batch of crunchy corn muffins.  That’s right–not only am I making chili, I’m turning on the oven and heating up the house.   I’m ignoring the heat until it goes away once and for all.  And this time, I’m not giving in until the overnight temperature dips below 60, the daytime high stays well below 90, and the prospect of eating a bowl of chili for dinner feels more logical than rebellious.

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Chunky Beef Chili

Ingredients:

1 lb. stew meat, or 1 lb. sirloin cut into bite-size chunks
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies
1 can black beans, drained
Beef stock
1 can tomato paste
2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 T. oregano

Directions:

In a slow cooker or large soup pot, combine the beef, onion, red pepper, Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilies, and black beans. Add beef stock until you can see liquid at the top of the mixture. (The beef stock should not be covering the solid ingredients, just surrounding them.) Stir in the tomato paste and spices.

If you're using a slow cooker, allow the chili to cook on the high setting for four hours or on the low setting for six hours; if you're using a soup pot, turn the burner to medium low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the chili to cook for at least four hours, stirring occasionally.

About half an hour before you plan to serve the chili, take the lid off the slow cooker or soup pot. Allow some of the liquid to evaporate, which will thicken the chili slightly. Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or tortilla chips.

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