Friday, May 20, 2011

I Don't Like Chili...

…but I make it anyway.  My son and husband really like it, especially my son.  I usually just make the recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook I have that is about 25 years old.  They tell me it’s good, I take their word for it.

Last week I found myself poking through my cabinets looking for items to donate through the Post Office’s annual food drive.  We bought some big white cabinets to put in the garage recently for the overflow of what will not fit into the kitchen cabinets.  I shop, I cram the food in those cabinets and I forget what is lurking on those shelves.  While I was in there looking for donations, I saw that I had all the makings for chili.  I knew that in the freezer I also had some chopped onion and some pre-cooked ground beef.  Even with it being mid-May, I decided to make chili anyway.  It’s not like the weather is acting like mid-May.  It was kind of like big-bowl-of-hot-chili type of weather that day.  It was decided-the boys would be eating chili for dinner that night.

I wanted to try something different this time other than my go-to Betty Crocker recipe.  I love Betty and her cookbook shows how much I love her.  Its pages are stained and stuck together from drips and drops of this and that that have splattered onto them over the years.  Last week when I pulled it from the bookshelf the cover officially came off all the way, it’s been hanging for quite some time now.  Her recipes are basic and more times than not, come out very well so Betty has had a lot of use in this house.

I started searching online for a basic chili recipe.  While I had all the makings for chili, sometimes chili recipes do have a lot of things in them that are not standard pantry items in my kitchen.  Most of them had a couple of things that I did not have so I decided to mesh together what I did have and call it my own.

When Simon came home from school I had him taste what I had concocted.  He gave me an almost thumbs up but he felt it needed more “something”.  We added a few more things and he was about 99% there of giving me a total thumbs up…he wanted more spice.  I told him we’d hold off on more spice because his father may not want it THAT spicy and that he could always add some hot sauce to his own bowl if he felt the need.

I had not intended on including this in my blog as it was a last minute thing that came to me that afternoon.  I took no pictures as I was preparing it or after we served it up that night.  However, as I got to thinking about it, this was a healthy recipe in which I was able to use some conscious ingredients in.  (I don’t know what to call those ingredients-does conscious work for you?  It’s working for me right now but I feel like there should be a better word for them.)  On the day I was about to use the last of the chili for them for dinner that nite, I decided to snap a picture and post it here.  The chili is cold in the bowl and I didn’t want to put the cheese ON it because it would be hard to get it back off and if I left it on the cold chili, it would surely melt right into it when I warmed it up for them and I wasn’t sure how that would be.  That’s the story behind the picture…just thought I’d share that with you too!

Onto the chili….

The ingredients that were used in this that were more conscious were:

I buy this at BJ’s in a 2 pound package for $6.49.  It says it is antibiotic free and humanely raised.  I know there is no real official definition for “humanely raised” so to be honest with you, I don’t know how much that means to me on this package.  It does appear NatureSource is an entity of a big beef company but I at least figure that some of the initiatives that they claim to take are at least a step in the right direction.  The beef is 85/15 which is a higher fat percent than I prefer.  However, I use this beef when I need to brown beef for things like chili, tacos, lasagna, etc. because I can then drain off the fat that’s cooked out of it.  Also, while it’s still in the colander, I run hot water over it to rinse off any residue.  As the water is running over the beef, I stir it around to make sure that I get off as much as possible.  On page 2 of this document you can see some numbers as to how much you can reduce the fat by doing this technique.

I bought these at Price Rite.  I have to do a posting about Price Rite because on the surface it is a discount supermarket that one would never suspect they’d be able to find some conscious item in.  There’s not a lot but if you look hard enough you will find a few things there and save yourself more than a few bucks by buying them there  The can of tomatoes I had on hand also had organic basil in it as did all the diced or whole tomato products I found in my cupboard that day.  Since I do not eat chili I was not sure if basil was the way to go but I figured since I was doing my own thing anyway, my chili was going to have a hint of basil in it…it was either that or not make it and I already decided to make it.

I find this brand at a couple of local supermarkets, Trucci’s and Foodmaster for those who are close by.  It’s almost seems a sort of a generic organic brand, I guess?  Maybe not but it is usually less expensive than the more recognizable organic brands out there…at least that’s what I’ve noticed with the tomato and cereal products they offer. 

And finally, the recipe itself.  I suppose I need to give it a name?  That had not occurred to me until I just now came to the part of typing it out.  I suppose I will be real original and call it Court St. Kitchen Chili.  I know this will be a part of our kitchen though as my husband did tell me that it was the best chili I’ve made thus far.  So, that will be it…the chili that will be made in the kitchen at Court St. from now on.

Court St. Kitchen Chili

1 pound uncooked ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp crushed garlic (I used Trader Joe’s jarred crushed garlic)
1 28 ounce can tomatoes (use what you’ve got…it all cooks down anyway whether they’re whole or diced…you just have to help with whole ones along the way by mashing them down some)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp chili powder (add to your taste)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 bay leaf
pinch of hot pepper flakes (add to your taste)
1 to 2 tsp hot pepper sauce (add to your taste)
salt and pepper (to your taste)
2 cans red kidney beans, drained

Brown ground beef in large pan over medium heat.  When it’s done you can drain it or drain and rinse it as I mentioned above.  Return the drained beef to the pan, add onion and garlic.  Cook until onions start to turn translucent.  Add the next 9 ingredients and stir to combine (everything excpet the beans).  Bring this mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for about 90 minutes…do at least this, if you need to let it go a little longer, so be it. Stir this occasionally as it simmers.  Add both cans of drained kidney beans to the mixture, turn the heat up a bit and cook through until the beans have warmed through. 

This makes a fairly thick chili so if you’d like, you can save some of the drained kidney bean…hmmm…what would you call it…juice?!?  If you need to thin the chili down at all, add a tbsp or two at a time and get it to the consistency that you prefer.

We got about 6 servings so that made 3 meals for the ones who eat chili at our house.  It was great to have the leftovers in the fridge for a quick meal on the days that afterschool activities bring us home right at dinnertime.  Just make sure that you cover the bowl if you warm it up in the microwave as it spatters and makes a mess of the inside of the oven.    


  1. So good, Jen! We love chili and I do like your recipe! I have four Qts. of the stewed tomatoes left from the garden. I've been saving them. ;) Good Idea! Thank you! :) Yea, and "juice" (hahaha) from the beans I toss only because it gives me the creeps. I actually soaked black and kidney beans for the last chili I made. It's one of my quirks...I know you understand. haha! :)

  2. Thanks, Michele!! Love that you soak your own beans for chili and you used another sort of bean for it also. Perhaps some chili is in order at your house very soon with those stewed tomatoes you've got stashed away! Sounds like they lasted you a good part of the winter...I remember you posting pictures of your canning, doesn't seem that long ago at all! Yeah, bean "juice" is creepy, for sure. I get a little gaggy just thinking of it..ha! I'm not a big bean fan to begin with and that liquid skeeves me out big time!

  3. Yes. If I do used canned beans I rinse them in a metal strainer and use hot water to rinse them. The fresh ones taste better, if it make any difference in what you use them in. They do take a lot longer and I usually save that for one of those freezing cold days, where we don't leave the house. ;) This rainy weather has made me a bit sad about the garden because I like to "push my luck" and get some things in early. I will definitely can more tomatoes this year either from our garden or from the tomatoes at Adam Farms. The are amazing and even though I did use a lot of tomatoes in the Winter (others that were canned to supplement the supply from the garden) The ones from the garden were saved for chili and pasta sauce. They taste so much better!

    I'm glad you started your blog again! :)


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