Chili con cornbread

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There’s something about chili that just screams comfort food.

And versatility, too. You can eat it a zillion different ways: on baked potatoes, French fries, tater tots, hamburgers, hot dogs, crushed Fritos corn chips, or just straight up.

There are also a zillion different ways to top it: cheddar cheese, crema fresca, sour cream, white onions, green onions, chives, chopped cilantro, and on and on.

And let’s not even get started about the many, many different ways to prepare it.

This is my favorite, and a favorite with my family as well. I like it just on the verge of being too spicy. It’s a delicate balance, and one’s tolerance for scoville units is definitely open to personal interpretation. This chili is pretty middle of the road – a great recipe for kids. I love chili spooned over a big wedge of slightly sweet, homemade cornbread. I love the balance of spicy versus sweet. And then, of course, I have to top it off with some sour cream and green onions. Heavenly.

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Being that I live in Texas, it would be an absolute sin to make my chili with Wallyworld ground beef. I’m fortunate enough to live near a great butcher shop, Local Yocal, which is owned by the Farmers that raise the grass-fed beef they sell. They also provide an outlet for other quality artisans; check it out here. They also sell delicious local eggs, too. I used these in my cornbread.

I stopped in the market and had a great time perusing the assortment. The woman that helped me pick what to purchase was an absolute gem. I just wish I had gotten her name so I could give her the proper acknowledgement. Ultimately, she recommended using half grass fed beef and half Wagyu beef in my chili. Boy, I’m glad I listened. That was some pure beef magic, right there.

“Is there really a difference between grocery store beef and locally sourced?” YES! Their grass-fed beef was very clean, a crisp, focused, beef taste without any background noise as I call it. Y(ou know, that faint plastic wrapped taste that grocery store beef has after sitting in the case for so long?) The Wagyu beef was also delicious; a very rich, almost buttery taste. Incredible. Indulgent.

I used the Chipotle infused special edition olive oil from Texas Olive Ranch to sauté my beef and onions. The specialty line is available at Farmer’s Markets in Texas, but a suitable substitute would be Rattlesnake from Texas Olive Ranch, which can be purchased at larger grocery chains in Texas as well as at Local Yocal.

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Even my terrier wanted a bowl of chili. Check out the photo-bomb below. You know she was just waiting for me to drop that bowl. Now, let’s get down to it, shall we?

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CHILI CON CORNBREAD

Makes 6 – 8 servings

CHILI

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef.

1 large onion, diced

2 T. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

8 oz. tomato sauce

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can pinto beans, undrained

15. oz. can kidney beans, undrained

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 T. chili powder

1 t. ground chipotle

1 t. ground ancho chili powder

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. oregano

1/3 cup fresh parley, minced

Directions:

1. In dutch oven, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium high. Add onions and cook until softened. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

2. Add ground beef, salt, and garlic powder. Cook until beef is browned.

3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

4. Once boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer one hour. Stir every fifteen minutes or so.

That’s it! Easy peasy. This chili makes a lot and it freezes wonderfully.

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CORN BREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted in a large glass bowl

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup corn kernels (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and generously butter a 9×9 baking dish or line a muffin pan with liners.

1. Melt butter in the microwave in a large Pyrex bowl. Whisk in sugar and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

3. Returning to the large bowl with the melted butter/sugar, whisk in the eggs.

4. Quickly stir the baking soda into the buttermilk, pour into butter mixture and whisk to combine.

5. Gently whisk in dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Small bumps are a-ok.

6. Pour into baking dish and bake for 35 minutes. If you are making muffins, bake 20 – 25 minutes (my oven bakes them perfectly in 22 minutes)

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Carnitas Hatch Chili Soup

Carnitas Hatch Chili Soup

You can probably guess by the picture above that I have not invested any time in learning how to take the perfect food photograph. Well, friends, this isn’t Instagram. After my oftentimes two hour of a beast drive home there isn’t much ambient sunset light left streaming through my kitchen window. And, besides, by that time I’m so starved that I’m impatiently munching on some dry crackers while plating dinner. What I’m trying to say is: I’m less concerned with making food porn as I am with stuffing my face – er – providing my family with sustenance.

Please forgive me, as food nerdish as this sounds, time is exactly why I love my slow cooker. And I especially love all the calories it saves me from not having to inhale half a box of crackers before dinner is ready. Not that I need an excuse. I really, truly, love me some crackers.

Using the bare bones recipe below will allow you to have your dinner in the crockpot in less than 10 minutes in the morning before you leave for work. This means more time to, like, flat-iron your hair and stuff. Or, for me, double checking your make-up application to make sure you don’t forget your eyeliner and mascara on your right eye. Again. Unless you’re into that “Clockwork Orange” look.

You can do all the minimal chopping and dicing the night before, if you want. If you can find 15 extra minutes to work the *extra* steps into your morning routine, DO IT. I’d even say this soup was worthy of skipping the flat-iron. Helloooooo pony-tail day!

Just a quick note about the Hatch Chilies. If you’re not lucky enough to live in the Southwest to buy some freshly roasted peppers during the fall, try looking in the frozen section of your grocery store. Or, if you aren’t afraid of broiling things, try roasting some green bell peppers on your own. (Bonus points for not catching them on fire).

Carnitas Hatch Chili Soup

Ingredients:

2 to 2 ½ pound pork roast

Large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

32 ounces chicken stock

1 pound roasted Hatch Chili peppers

2 medium carrots, chopped (Or 1 cup baby carrots)

1 cup corn kernels

1 medium zucchini, chopped (Keep this in fridge until dinnertime to avoid mushy squash)

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. Garlic powder

1 tsp. Ground sea salt

½ tsp. Pepper

To serve: Cooked white rice, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, avocado, lime

Optional ingredient: ½ bottle light Mexican beer

Directions:

  1. Combine 1 tsp. Garlic powder, 1 tsp. ground sea salt, ½ tsp. ground pepper and rub over pork roast.
  2. In a slow cooker, combine the following: pork, onion, garlic, chicken stock, Hatch chilies, carrots, corn, oregano, cumin, and bay leaf.
  3. Cook on low 8 – 10 hours or high 3 – 5 hours.
  4. When you are back home and the cook time is done, shred the roast and toss in the chopped zucchini. Replace the slow cooker lid. Cook rice according to package directions. (We like the 90 second pouches you can get anywhere) Zucchini will be tender by the time your rice is done.
  5. Ladle soup over cooked rice and pile whatever fresh ingredients you like into the bowl.

***Optional “extra effort” steps. After rubbing roast with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, lightly dust roast with all-purpose flour. Heat 1 T. canola oil in large frying pan. Sear pork roast on all sides until a brown crust has formed. After placing roast into slow cooker, deglaze the pan with ½ bottle of Mexican beer or ½ cup of your chicken broth. Scrape browned bits up with whisk or wooden spoon and let boil for a minute or two. Place the browned bits and reduced beer into crockpot. Proceed with recipe.

I suppose I should put some kind of disclaimer here, such as “If you deglaze your pan with ½ bottle of beer in the morning, please refrain from consuming remaining half before work”. Unless you work in a cubicle, like me, then we all know you probably need it. 😉

~JC