Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My all-time favorite three bean & beef chili with Fritos

Everyone's got one.

A guilty pleasure TV show?  Gossip Girl.  Hands down.

A way to distract one from eating the entire pre-Halloween stash of candy?  Knitting.  Yes, knitting.

A morning routine at work before getting down to business?  Log in, get water, check Gmail, and check CNN People.com.  Don't judge me, please.  I get my "real" news during breakfast from Good Morning America.

But, I digress.  If you are much less superficial than I am or just as much so but don't openly admit it, I bet you can agree with this next one:

Everyone's got a favorite chili recipe.

One that you know like the back of your hand.  One that will cure whatever ails you, be it the first cold of the season or simply an intense hungry for a delicious hearty meal.  And one that you are proud to serve to anyone who comes a'knockin'.

I live for chili that's that good.  Don't you?

I've posted chili recipes before, but I must confess they weren't my favorite.  They were and still are wonderful recipes that will yield lick-the-bowl-clean batches of chili.  But they were simply distractions when I had crazy thoughts.  Thoughts like "I should try something new" rather than sticking to my tried and true favorite.  Lucky for you, I've silenced those thoughts once and for all.

I first found Ellie's recipe almost 3 years ago.  Three!  I was wowed then with the original.  But, like so many things in life, I wanted to make it my own.  Since then, I've made tweaks and run trials, making notes as I went along.  I've even rewritten the recipe card because the original was covered in equal amounts of scribbling and tomato juice.  Want to know my latest addition?


Sprinkle 'em on top of your next bowl of chili.  It'll blow your mind!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my favorite chili recipe.  I kid you not -- I'm smiling just writing about it and thinking about its stick-to-your-ribs-ness.  Is that a word?  I think so.  I hope so.

I also hope you love this chili as much as I do!

But, hey now, if there is something you want to add or omit, go with your gut (after all, it's going to spend the most time with the stuff) and do it.  Change can be a good thing!  Don't worry, I won't be offended.  After all, I wouldn't expect you to share my love for, say, the movie The Proposal.  I swear I have seen that at least 30 times and enjoy it every single time.  That's my movie I can watch 1000 times and not get sick of it.  What's yours? :)

Two years ago: Turkey meatloaf with fontina and mushrooms

Three Bean & Beef Chili
(with a few changes from Ellie Krieger's recipe)

A few notes: If the quantities in the above pictures look large, then it's because I doubled the following recipe to have lots to freeze for future dinners.  Do yourself and anyone who eats with you a favor and make lots of this!  Also, a quick tip.  Since this comes together relatively quickly, it's ideal for a weeknight meal.  Do yourself another favor and take a little time to chop the onion, peppers, and carrots ahead of time; store them in a airtight container in the fridge for up to a week until you're ready to use them.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Salt, to taste
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Grated sharp cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)
Fritos, for serving

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, oregano, pepper, cocoa, chili powder, and brown sugar. Simmer, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes.  Stir in the beans and cook, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and hot sauce (if desired).  Ladle chili into serving bowls, top with cheese, and Fritos.  Enjoy!

Freezing instructions: 
Allow the chili to cool completely.  This will take at least an hour or two at room temperature.  Or, you can cover the pot and refrigerate it for an hour.  (If you don't let it cool, the hot chili will melt the seams of those seemingly-sturdy freezer bags and you'll have a hefty clean-up on your hands.)  Portion out 2 to 2 1/2 cups (about 2 servings) per 1 quart bag -- smaller portions mean less time to thaw later.  Remove excess air.  Lay flat in freezer and freeze until solid.  To thaw, place bag in refrigerator 48 hours before eating.  Transfer to microwave safe container and reheat.  Or, empty contents into small saucepan and heat until warm and ready to eat.  Be careful not to over stir or beans will become a bit mushy.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how I ever ate chili WITHOUT Fritos.