Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not Your Typical Chili

The weather has turned cold - and I love it!  I'm excited to start adding soups, stews, and chili back into my meal plans!  All the conditions are right for my favorite chili!  It's not your typical chili - it's better (in my opinion, anyway).  I have a confession to make: I don't like ground meat.  And because I don't like ground meat, I was never a huge fan of chili.  I liked the flavor, but it was always such a chore to work around the ground beef in order to get to the beans.  Even the smallest piece of ground beef in my mouth would make me cringe!  So when my dad introduced me to chili using chunks of beef instead of ground beef, I was so excited!!!

This recipe is not for the chili faint of heart - it's loaded with flavor and packs some heat!  The recipe calls for chuck roast which is one of my favorite cuts of meat.  Stores often put chuck roast on sale for under $2 per pound.  When they do, I make sure I have room in my freezer and stock up!  Chuck roast is not a tender cut of meat, but if cooked properly (slow and long), it can become deliciously tender.   I already had a couple chuck roasts and some chipotles (leftover from another meal) in my freezer, as well as some diced tomatoes that I had purchased on sale several months ago, so I really didn't need to buy much for this recipe.  Also, you'll need at least a 5-quart slow cooker in order to make this recipe.  Mine is 5-quarts and was filled to the brim!

Chili Con Carne
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
3 cups water, divided
3 tsp. chicken bouillon (or eliminate the water and use 3 cups chicken broth)
28 oz. diced tomatoes with juice
5 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
5-7 lbs. chuck roasts, trimmed and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup water, plus 2 Tbsp.
3 medium onions, chopped
2 medium jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and minced
6 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kidney beans
1 tsp. oregano

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add as many tortillas as will fit and cook until blistered on both sides; about 2 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and repeat with remaining tortillas.  Tear tortillas into smaller pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups of water and the chicken bouillon.  Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until the tortillas are saturated.  In a blender or a food processor, puree the mixture until smooth.  Place the pureed mixture into your slow cooker.

Place tomatoes and chipotles into the food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Add the tomato mixture to the slow cooker, along with the remaining 1 cup water and brown sugar.

Dry the beef thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tsp. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Place 1/3 of the meat in the skillet and sear on all sides.  Remove meat from skillet and repeat with remaining meat.  Once all the meat has been seared and removed from the pan, add 1/4 cup water and scrape all the bits of meat that have stuck to the pan (this is called deglazing the pan).  Boil until there's hardly any water left.  Pour the remaining contents of the pan into the slow cooker.  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel.

Put the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in the skillet and heat.  Add onions, jalepenos and 1/4 tsp. salt; saute until soft.  Stir in chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally until spices are deeply fragrant.  Add garlic and heat until garlic becomes fragrant.  Transfer vegetables to slow cooker.  Add 2 Tbsp. water to skillet and scrape any spices that are left, then transfer to slow cooker.

At this point, you can put the meat and the slow cooker mixture in the refrigerator separately until the next day or you can put the meat into the slow cooker and continue.
Because there's quite a bit of prep, I like to prepare everything the night before so that all I have to do is add the meat and turn on the slow cooker in the morning.

Stir to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Cook on high 6-7 hours or low for 9-10 hours or until meat is tender.  Add beans, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste; continue cooking for 15 minutes.  I like to serve my chili over rice; my husband likes his over macaroni.  Of course, you can always serve it a la carte or on baked potatoes!  This makes a lot of chili, so I freeze the leftovers in single meal servings.

Some notes: This recipe calls for a lot of meat.  If you don't want to use that much meat and/or want to save money, use a little less meat and increase the amount of beans.  Additionally, if you don't like spicy food, you may want to leave out the jalapeno.  If you're looking for a more traditional chili, check out Sumiko's chili made from leftover spaghetti sauce!

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