On Monday night last week, we made a big vat of chili. I ate chili that night, on Tuesday for lunch, on Wednesday for lunch and on Thursday I was sad that I didn’t have any more chili for lunch. It was so hearty and satisfying each time that I didn’t need any afternoon snack. I thought I’d be sick of it, but this chili seemed to get better each day that it aged in the fridge.
And except for one new ingredient (for us), we didn’t do anything special. That’s why chili rocks – a decent chili can be made with a wide assortment of ingredients. This is a chili we made up, and I’m sure we’ll never make it exactly the same way again but I’ll probably come back to this recipe as a good base since this particular conglomeration was such a success. We weren’t sure about the beans and corn, but they really helped stretch the flavors in this much farther, not to mention help us squeeze a few more servings out of the vat than we could have done without them.
Note: I’m sure we broke dozens of chili “rules.” For one, we didn’t use any chili peppers (or any other hot peppers). You can definitely rectify that if you so choose. If we had had any habanero peppers (the store was out and we were lazy), I definitely would have used them since I love heat.
Recipe: Beef and Lamb Chili
Makes approximately 8-10 servings
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb beef stew meat cut into 1 inch or smaller cubes
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 cup of beer of choice (lager-type, lighter beers recommended) *optional
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can corn
- 2 tbs. chili powder
- 1 tbs cayenne pepper
- 1 tbs cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Saute onions in olive oil in a large stew pot. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the beef while the onions cook.
- Once onions are slightly translucent, push them to one side using a wooden spoon. Add the beef chunks to the remaining area and do not move. After a few minutes of sizzling, give the meat a stir and try to flip the majority of the pieces over. Let the meat sear and brown on at least two sides.
- If you have enough room, add the ground lamb and brown. If the pot does not have enough room, brown the lamb in a pan with just a little oil. This can be done simultaneously while browning the beef. Add the lamb and any liquids to the stew pot.
- Once all the meat is browned and added to the pot, it’s deglazing time! Pour the beer in and using a wooden spoon, rub on the bottom of the pot where the brown bits leftover from searing the meat lock in all the flavor and dissolve them in the beer. When mostly through deglazing, lower the heat and add the chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin. Stir well.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir the meat and onions off the bottom and into the sauce. Fill the tomato sauce can with water and pour into the pot. Stir.
- Allow the pot to come to a boil, raise heat if necessary. While waiting, strain and rinse the black beans, kidney beans and corn. Add to pot. Stir.
- Cover the pot and leave on medium heat for about an hour. Stir occasionally. Once heated it is technically ready to eat, but giving it a longer slower time allows the meat to become more tender, and allows the flavors to develop and blend. The lamb flavor should permeate just about everything else in the pot.
- Serve over yellow rice (rice made with saffron, turmeric, or in our case a bit of light curry powder that contains turmeric), or cornbread (we keep boxes of mix around just for this purpose, it takes under 20 minutes to throw together and bake).
At this point, I would love to be able to say, “serve with bright veggies on the side” but honestly, after eating a bowl of this over rice and a hefty piece of cornbread, I was so satisfied there was no room in my stomach to fathom being healthy. For a better balanced meal, one starch is probably a better idea than two. If you would like to have anything on the side of this (steamed okra, broccoli or string beans would be divine), I would suggest having only 1 cup of chili with about a half cup portion of rice or cornbread. Depending on how quickly you think you can eat this, you may want to freeze some for later consumption.
And now I’m off to have one last bowl while I watch the snow fall outside.
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...