Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chili and Cornbread

Chili fundamentalists wouldn't really classify this as a chili but rather as a ground beef stew. Chili making is really a much higher art but if you want a hearty stew reminiscent of a chili, this is a good "quick" version.

I removed a package of ground beef (about 1.5 to 2 pounds) from the freezer in the morning and let it defrost during the day. Later when it is about time for dinner, I heat a about a 3 tablespoons of olive oil until it is hot - almost smoking - and add the ground beef. I cook it until the meat is mostly brown. As this is cooking, I finely chop 1 medium onion; 2 jalapenos (seeded and de-stemmed); and 2 cloves of garlic. When the meat is brown, I add the chopped vegetables and saute a bit until the onion is a bit translucent. Add one bottle or can of beer and let it cook down a bit. (The beer tenderizes the meat and the alcohol burns off.)

Add a can of tomato sauce and a bit of water just enough to cover everything. Add about 1 tablespoon of chili powder as well as salt and pepper to taste. For a darker sauce and a bit more flavor I also add a tablespoon of instant coffee. I will cook this down for about an hour without a cover on the pot. The sauce will cook down until it is deeper and thicker.

I start with the cornbread and since I happen to be out of cornmeal I use a package of cornbread mix that I like from Trader Joe's. It is a sweet version of cornbread and has kernels of corn mixed into it. It takes 35 to 40 minutes to bake so I mix this per the instructions and place it in the oven. The cornbread and chili will be ready at about the same time.

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