Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4 Alarm Chili

I found a basic template for a chili recipe and decided to give it a go based on our personal tastes and usual pantry/fridge/freezer items. I've actually never made chili before, as odd as that may seem. Family and friends regularly make chili, and all have awesome recipes (Allegra, John, Carla, etc.). But Matt's response to my first chili was so overwhelming, and then his insistence that I blog it to share with the world....well, that's why you are getting this recipe.

You can make it as many alarms as you want. We decided that my version was a 4 alarm chili. To be eaten with plenty of sour cream and a refreshing beer and only by serious heat-lovers. At 4 alarms, you get the all-over heat buzz from your sinuses to your toes. However, by lowering the amount of ground chipotle, you can gauge the heat level to you or family's desired level of heat. So, sour cream as a topping...not so healthy. We use 0% greek yogurt instead of sour cream all the time. High in protein, low in fat, great calcium intake and I dare you to tell the difference, and if you can, I dare you to admit that the greek yogurt isn't better. You have to try it to believe it.

Although toppings make the chili more festive, it is super delicious on its own as well.

This recipe makes about 8 bowl-sized servings.

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used a pound of Great Brook Farm whole cow ground beef I had in the freezer, but if you don't have access to Walpole, NH I suggest you procure a local, all natural sustainable beef where you are)
  • 2 red bell pepper, chopped into half inch chunks
  • 1 really large onion, chopped into half inch chunks
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into half inch chunks
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups corn (frozen is fine!)
  • 1/2 tsp -1 TBS ground chipotle (use 1 TBS for 4 alarm, 1/2 TBS for 3 alarm, 1 tsp 2 alarm, 1/2 tsp for 1 alarm- good for kids who don't like spicy)
  • 1 1/2 TBS dried Mexican Oregano (you could use standard Turkish oregano though)
  • 1 TBS, generous, ground cumin
  • 2 15-16 ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 28 ounce can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes (they are a little more expensive, but totally worth it in this chili for the intense smoky flavor they add)
  • 8 ounces beer (something malty and dark. My go-to beer for cooking, that is, if Matt doesn't have something on tap, is Smutty's Old Brown Dog. Buy a bomber (22 ounces) and sip the rest while the chili simmers)
  • Pour a little olive oil into your big pot and brown the beef over medium heat.
  • When browned through, remove beef from pot and set aside.
  • Add red bell pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic and corn to pot.
  • Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until softened (about 10 or 15 minutes).
  • Put beef back into pot with vegetables.
  • Add ground chipotle, oregano and cumin. Stir into beef and vegetables until fragrant, about one minute.
  • Add beans.
  • Add the can of tomatoes, rinse can with water until 1/4 full, add liquid.
  • Add beer.
  • Stir together well and keep at a low simmer over low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Serve with "sour cream" (aka 0% greek yogurt), shredded cheese, and if feeling festive, chunks of avocado.

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