Chili is an American favorite. Cities, towns, churches, and community groups across the country hold chile contests. Texans make their chili with beef and pork. Minnesotans make it with ground beef. The recipes also vary from family to family. In Minnesota, where I live, some recipes are like a light soup. I don’t use a recipe for my chili so each batch is different.
My husband and I are trying to eat more vegetables and less salt, so when I make chili, these things are at the top of my mind. If I have mushrooms on hand I add them. Sometimes I add a can of chopped green chilies. However, I never add beans because I am allergic to them.
Texas-style chili is in a category of its own. The Epicurious website describes this version in an article titled “True Texas Chili.” This version does not contain beans or tomatoes and is made with homemade chili paste. The locals refer to this recipe as a “Bowl o ‘Red”. The flavor comes from a variety of chili peppers, cumin seeds, lard, beef, onion, and garlic. The mixture is thickened with cornmeal.
Border recipes can contain chorizo sausage and a variety of fresh or dried chili peppers. The origin of this dish dates back centuries, according to the International Chili Society website. Texas cattle drivers popularized the dish that was cooked in a cast iron pot over an open fire. Ingredients included wild onions, bell peppers, oregano, garlic, and freshly slaughtered beef, buffalo, rabbit, or (prepare) armadillo.
Although I don’t drive cattle, I don’t eat on the trails or like armadillo, I have a cast iron skillet and use it to make chili. Depending on my schedule of the day, I can transfer the cooked meat from the skillet to a soup pot or slow cooker. This recipe was made in a slow cooker and the combination of flavors hit the spot. Adding coffee gave the batch a depth of flavor. Is the weather getting colder where you live? Put on your cowboy hat and make some good chili!
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound 92% lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
28-ounce can low sodium tomato puree (use half and save the rest for another recipe).
1 teaspoon low sodium salt
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
Chili powder to taste
1 cup of water
4 tablespoons unsalted beef soup base (or 4 beef bouillon cubes)
1 1/2 cups of freshly brewed coffee
Garnishes: Shredded Mexican cheese, fat-free sour cream, chopped green onions
For the olive oil in a frying pan. Shred the meat in a skillet and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the remaining ingredients except for the coffee. Reduce heat and cook mixture until soup base dissolves. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker lined with a cooking bag. Add the coffee with a wooden spoon. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve with cornbread and garnishes. Makes 6 servings.
Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson