It’s Sunday morning here, around 9:30am.* Sunday mornings are funny. I know people who are just getting out of bed at this time, people who are just going to bed at this time and people who have been up for 3-4 hours by this time. Some people spend Sunday mornings going to church or eating big breakfasts with friends and family. Some people volunteer at food pantries or soup kitchens. My dad used to turn on jazz and make pancakes. My mom and I used to send one of us out for muffins and then curl up in bed with a good book. My grandmother used to go out for bagels and lox so that her middle son and his wife could come over for breakfast.
Me? I cook. As much as I can because morning seems to be when the toddler can best amuse herself. So as of the writing of this post, I have made chicken chili, cornbread and 7 loaves of challah. I’ve also cleaned the kitchen and started removing things from the shelves (we’re moving around furniture today). It’s been quite a morning. I’m sure you can guess which of the above categories I fall into in terms of waking time.
Also, it’s freezing here all of a sudden. I can’t really complain since it’s been an extremely mild and non-snowy winter (the only snow we’ve had so far was on Halloween) but, wow, is it suddenly cold. Like 11 degrees out with a wind chill making it feel like 0 degrees kind of cold. So chili is the thing to make on a day like this. Plus, since it can sit on the stove all day and simmer while it gets more tasty, it’s the perfect thing for thanking my friends who will be coming over to help us move furniture (the husband is convinced that if I move heavy stuff this late in the pregnancy it will send me into labor).
Without further delay, I give you my chili recipe/guidelines. The great thing about chili is that it is versatile. Sometimes I add more veggies, other times, more beans. Sometimes it’s really spicy, other times less so. Chili is also one of those things that vary by region. Some areas of the U.S. are aghast if you add beans to your chili, other areas serve it over pasta. I refuse to get into that debate and simply make my chili as suits my mood each time. So use this recipe as a jumping off point for yourself- make your chili to suit your mood.
This makes a big pot of chili which can probably serve 5-8 people, depending on portion size. Chili also gets better over time so it’s good to have leftovers to eat throughout the week. You can also substitute any kind of veggie or bean that sounds good to you at the time.
1-3 red, yellow and/or orange peppers (you can use green as well but I don’t like green peppers)
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
1 lb ground meat (I use chicken)
2 cans kidney beans, 1 can black beans, 1 can garbonzo beans or any combo you like
1 large can diced tomatoes (or stewed or crushed)
1 cup frozen corn
salt, pepper, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper
In a large, heavy pot, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. How much? A tablespoon or two. Add your chopped onions and let them soften and get a bit charred. It adds some nice, smoky flavor.
Once the onions have done their thing, add the ground meat (if using) and let that get brown. It helps to use the back of a spoon to break up the meat into chunks.
Chop your veggies.
Check your meat/onion mixture. If it’s browning up, add some chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Maybe a few teaspoons. I like to season at this step and then again further along in the cooking time. The spices really need to be to your taste- some people like it really hot (cayenne) and others like the smoky, sort of earthy flavor of the cumin. Stir the spices around and then add your veggies and stir again.
Let this cook for a few minutes while you open the beans and rinse them off. You can use any combo of beans you like. I tend to favor kidney (because they scream chili to me), black (because I love them and they’re a superfood) and garbanzo (I find them delightful in any mix). Just make sure to rinse them well since canned beans can sometimes taste like tin. Of course you could use dried beans but that involves a soaking process which I never remember to do.
Add your beans to the pot and stir.
Add the tomatoes (juice and all) and stir again. I’ve use fresh tomatoes as well, it just depends on what you have on hand.
Now, let it just sit, over low heat, covered for as little as 30 minutes to as long as all day. Stir occasionally. Towards the add, you can add the corn if you like. I find it gives a nice sweet pop to the chili but I’m also loving corn right now, for whatever reason.
This chili is actually really good for you- it’s all veggies and good protein. Which is why I do not feel badly eating big bowls of it and topping it with shredded cheese and sometimes even some greek yogurt or sour cream. I also usually make cornbread to go with it. I’ll save that one for another post but I have a really good cornbread recipe. Really good.
As the chili sits, the liquid will release and make a kind of sauce. You can add tomato paste if you want it thicker but I like it the way it is. Adjust seasonings to taste. I will often add a teaspoon or two of sugar, just to cut the acid of all the veggies.
Really delicious, pretty healthy and will definitely warm you up on a cold day. Even if you make it in the morning.
*Of course, I’m posting this around 6pm so that just tells you how my days tend to go. To be fair, all furniture is moved (thank you to T, K and T!) and things have been put away but really, this is the first time I’ve sat down long enough to finish this!