Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Long-Awaited Chili Recipe

Yes, indeed, the long-awaited recipe. Not that you've been waiting for it, but I sure have! Over the years, I have tried so many recipes I've lost count of them all. But none of them were just right. They were ok, the family said they enjoyed it, but it just wasn't "it."

Let's face it, if you ask 100 people for their chili recipe, you'll get 100 different recipes. I tried to mimic my favorites, but they were always off on the consistency or taste. I also have to take dietary needs into account. Do you know how hard it is to make chili with no seeds? 

I started a little research project. I polled a group of long-standing online friends, friends I work with on the social committee, favorite cooks, the spice seller guy (who shall from now on be referred to affectionately as "Old Spice", but I'm getting ahead of myself) and anyone else who would listen. I wanted to know if they had a specific recipe, a secret ingredient, something that made their chili stand out in a crowd. Everyone had a different answer, and none of them went together. When I told Old Spice that my chili needed some serious help, he asked, "Well, what kind of chili do you make?" And that's when I realized I missed the most important question. "How do you define chili?" 

After talking with Old Spice for a couple of minutes, we refined my definition, and he recommended a spice blend. I was a little leery, because I'm not fond of mixes and I really hate a recipe that reads, "Open a can of soup, add it to a box of XYZ mix and bake for 7 hours." However, this blend is just right, and he adds NO fillers, no MSG, no nasties. Just pure spices. So I had narrowed down my search.

I took all of the suggestions, and played with recipes until I got the taste I wanted, but the texture was still wrong. My husband likes a good brothy chili, and I just could not find a way to get that without crushed tomatoes, which are full of seeds. But I found a way, and it turned out exactly like we wanted. My husband hid the leftovers so he could have them himself. That's a good sign. 

Leni's Chili with sour cream and slices of sharp cheddar, because I was to tired to shred it.

Leni's Notes:
~The spice blend I'm using is Cool Chili Seasoning from Stuart's Spices in Rochester, NY. It's got a tiny bit of kick, but I can tell you I don't enjoy hot food, and this is not spicy. It is a blend of ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano and salt. If you don't have the pleasure of living locally, you can order from them, just click on the Contact Us button. Or, mix up your own blend!
~Adjust the meat and bean ratio to your own liking. We like a good amount of protein in ours.
~Turn up the heat accordingly, or leave spices on the table for folks to adjust the taste themselves.
~This can certainly be done on the stove, but it is nice to throw in the crock pot and forget about.
~The amount of masa listed will thicken it slightly, but still leave a very soupy texture. Adjust amount to your liking.
~Serve with some rolls or corn bread.

32 oz Vegetable Juice (like V8)
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
6 large mushrooms, diced
1/4 C Cool Chili Seasoning
2 Tbls masa (corn flour)
salt and pepper

~Brown the ground beef with the minced garlic, then drain.
~Add everything except masa, salt and pepper to the crock.
~Let cook on low 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
~Half an hour before serving, taste the broth and add salt and pepper to your liking.
~Sprinkle masa over the chili, and stir in.
~Cover and let cook until you are ready to eat.

Blessings to you from my kitchen in the frozen tundra of Western New York,

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