It is a good thing that we got organized last week! Who knew that the weather was finally going to change and become winter? That we were going to spend so much time in the kitchen, cooking to stay warm? And now many of the annoying Tupperware and Rubbermaid containers are now full with a bounty of warming and comforting foods. We are veritable boy scouts: prepared! Bring on the chilly snow days!
I was so happy the other night; all I had to do was root around in the fridge for a few minutes, to tug out a color coordinated Rubbermaid container of fresh, homemade chili, a chunk of cornbread, and a bag o’salad. Over the weekend Mr. Sanders and I had cooked and baked in tandem, in perfect harmony, which is amazing, considering the size of our kitchen.
I made a batch of chili, based on a recipe from Weeknight Chili in Food52, which in turn, is based on an America’s Test Kitchen’s chili recipe. Mr. Sanders baked chocolate biscotti, from a New York Times recipe. While I chopped and minced, browned and simmered, he weighed and measured, sifted and rolled. We made dinner for Sunday night, Wednesday night, with enough leftover for chili dogs for Thursday lunch. (We have also discovered the delights of chocolate biscotti for dessert after an abstemious breakfast of sticks and twigs. Yumsters!)
Sunday Afternoon Chili – No Beans
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped (don’t use seeds or pith)
Salt (I used a new, fancy French salt, Carmargue Fleur de Sel, just for kicks – Diamond Crystal is fine!)
4 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne (because we like spicy, you might want to modulate)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, minced (because we really like garlic)
2 pounds ground beef
Go ahead and add beans, if you must
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups beef stock
15 ounces can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
Grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion
Brown the meat in a Dutch oven, or in a large pot with a cover. Break up the meat with spoon, and cook until almost brown. Drain the fat. Add chopped onions and peppers and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cook, stirring every so often, until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and stir. Reduce heat to low. Add the crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Cook and stir for a few minutes. Then add the stocks and cook on low, covered, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened, about 60 minutes. I was worried that it would never thicken, but it did. Eventually. I let it cook uncovered for another half hour. The flavor deepened with all the simmering and the chicken and beef stocks. This was much better tasting chili than the Wick Fowler’s Chili 2 Alarm Kit (my old school night stand by) ever produced. And without chemicals, preservatives or thickening masa flour! It helps to sit at the kitchen counter with a book. (This week I am reading Prairie Fires, by Caroline Fraser.)
Serve topped with grated cheese, cilantro, radishes or green onions. Fritos are a delight, too. We made corn bread and had small green salads. It’s still Dry January around here, so it was Diet Coke for me and a tall lemonade for Mr. Sanders. Luke the wonder dog waited patiently. He is fond of sweet, buttery corn bread crumbs.
These biscotti take all afternoon, too. There is no rushing the progress, unless you want to go to the store for Stella D’oro Biscotti. This is an excellent way to spend a dark, wintery afternoon, sampling chocolate chips and licking the extra chocolate-y batter off the electric beaters. You won’t regret the time spent in the warm kitchen. Union Square Café’s Chocolate Biscotti
“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder