Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Chili

My second year research is due Friday, ergo I haven't had a lot of time this week for little things like taking pictures, cooking, or, you know, leaving the house.  Today at least I broke up the crushing-anxiety marathon with a quick trip to the store to buy ingredients for chili.  Growing up, chili was always my mom's fallback dinner plan whenever she wanted to go out in the evening or otherwise not be too responsible for dinner---it's quick and easy to throw together with pantry staples and can simmer on the stove practically indefinitely.  We always loved her chili, served over rice with Jiffy cornbread, but it was a pretty basic affair, consisting of mostly canned items tossed together with ground beef and a generic supermarket chili powder mix.  Tonight, however, I wanted to capture the simplicity of the original, while adding just a bit more finesse, using fresh chilies and my own chili powder blend I came up with on the fly.  And you know what, it was really good!  I love discovering a new easy, cheap dinner plan to file away for those 6 pm moments of desperation when you know you shouldn't just eat out, but the thought of coming up with dinner seems like an impossible task.

A few notes about ingredients: I have to admit, I used canned beans for this because I didn't have the foresight to soak dried beans.  But, in general, I highly promote soaking your own beans or, if you must, buying a brand that you know is BPA-free.  The same goes for tomatoes.  I'm a big fan of canned tomatoes---you really should never buy conventionally grown fresh tomatoes out of season---and I always buy them at Trader Joe's, which uses BPA-free cans.  If tomatoes are in season, though, feel free to use them in this recipe, but keep in mind that it will take a bit longer to cook because the tomatoes will have to break down.  On a separate note, this could easily be made as a vegetarian chili, just forget the meat and use more beans, preferably a different type (pinto, kidney, even a white bean).  Of course, then, it should probably be dubbed chili con frijoles or something.

Chili con Carne

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large can tomatoes, chopped coarsely or finely, to taste
salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and jalapenos and cook until translucent, about five minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant.  Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks.  When the beef has just cooked through, add the spices and then the beans and tomatoes.  Stir together and then add as much water as you want to reach the consistency you prefer---I prefer it thicker, so I added about a cup of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Chili is technically done as soon as it's heated through, but you could continue to simmer it for as long as you want.


  1. Yum! For some reason, I've been craving warm foods despite the rising temps - this has inspired a (turkey) chili night at our place!

    1. That's great, thanks for reading! Let me know how it turns out.