Friday, October 22, 2010

Chunky Minnesotan Chili

I promised myself not to post another soup recipe this week--but then thought about it, and figured chili isn't necessarily a soup. Especially not my chili recipe. I do the Midwestern thing and add noodles. And beans. If you want to get technical, I guess it's more like a spicy goulash (or stovetop hotdish, or chili mac) recipe and less like chili, at least in the traditional sense. But this is the style chili I grew up on, made by my grandma on cold days.

It's a one-pot meal, and, if you remember any of my other soup recipes (like this one or this one or this one) then you'll recall that I like my bowls of food on the chunky side.

When you serve it, be sure to be extra Minnesotan ("Meenn-ay-SOH-tuhn.")

I actually knew a woman who had the Fargo accent. And she said "Oh yah" a lot. But at least I never heard her say "Don'tcha know."

My chili starts with ground beef. It's the Midwestern thing to do.

Brown it up in some olive oil in a big ol' pot.

After your beef is browned, you can add in your veg (sorry, we've been watching lots of Wallace and Gromit here. Just be glad I can't convey Wallace's expression of "Cheeeeese!!" into text effectively. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, or just a W&G fan, go here.)

My peppers are straight from the freezer. I like to buy them when they're on sale, cut them up into strips, and toss them in a bag. I always have bell peppers on hand, and I know I've gotten a good deal on them (sometimes they cost as little as $1 each, other times they can cost upwards of $4!)

I used to add diced jalapeno too, but after surgery last year, I just found that the jalapeno made it too spicy. If you like it hot, the jalapeno might be for you.

Spices are next! Chili powder is a blend of spices. You can buy them pre-blended, or you can make your own. I like to use both.

Next come your canned ingredients.

Diced tomatoes and chili peppers go into the pot. They just get a short stir.
Then I add in some tomato paste.

One trick I like to use with tomato paste is to freeze it in plastic bags. I rarely have the opportunity to use a whole can of paste at once, but hate to waste it. So once I'm done using it, I spoon the rest into a Ziploc bag and flatten it out. Then it goes into the freezer. It makes it easy to break off chunks of the remaining paste if I need it for anything else.

This is a frozen chunk o' tomato paste.

Use the can the diced tomatoes came into add in three cans of water.

Regular vs. large elbows
When the chili is bubbling, you can add the noodles. I like to use the large macaroni noodles, but regular-sized elbows are fine too. Stir everything together to keep the noodles from sticking.

Let everything in the pot boil away. Keep coming back to check on it and give it a stir once in a while.

When the noodles are cooked, you can add your beans. Don't do it too soon or your beans will get mushy.
Here's the view from my spoon. How good does that look?

Serve your chili with any topping you like. My favorites are sour cream and shredded cheese, but you could also top with salsa, onions, mango, lime, cilantro, olives, scallions, bacon, tortilla chips ... the list goes on!

Chunky Minnesotan Chili
1 lb. ground beef
olive oil

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste

1 regular can diced tomatoes
1 small can diced chilis

3 cans of water (using the can from the tomatoes)

2 c. elbow macaroni

1 regular can red kidney beans, well rinsed and drained

Brown ground beef in oil. Once the beef is no longer pink, add onion, pepper, and garlic, and saute until all vegetables are softened.

Add spices; stir well.

Pour in tomatoes and chilis. Stir to combine.

Use tomato can and pour in three cans of water.

Once chili is lightly boiling, add macaroni. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

When macaroni is fully cooked, add kidney beans.

When beans are heated, chili is ready! Pour into a bowl and devour!

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