Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bean chili

I made a giant pot of chili yesterday. It was meant to be like the cowboy western chili that you'd stereotypically eat out on the range after a hard day of cattle-rustling or being pillaged by whooping Indians. So I turned to my Cowboy Country Cookbook for inspiration. All the chili recipes called for inappropriate ingredients, like Tex-Mex seasoning powder, artificial onion powder and so on. Nope, I thought. No fakery will be tolerated. So one has invented one's own chili, and one is mighty gosh-darn pleased with the result.

Big Ole Chili (serves maybe 6 to 8)

  • 400g beef mince (I used mid-range, neither super lean nor low grade)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 450g great northern beans, dried (or red kidney beans)
  • 2 cans diced / crushed tomatoes
  • 1 long red chili
  • 2 giant red sweet chilies (the ones you can stuff, or use capsicums)
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic from a jar (or use fresh and add a tsp of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Chop onions medium-fine. Put in giant pot with little bit olive oil. Cook for 2-3 mins over med heat, till they've lost their rawness. Add beef mince, increase heat, cook until mostly browned. Chop carrots very finely ( I pulverised them in the processor) and add to pot, cook 2 mins. Add the cans of tomatoes, the beans (rinse them first) the sliced sweet chilies, the garlic and the cayenne. Pour over water to cover the mixture and come about three-quarters up the sides of the pot. Prick the whole chili with a skewer and let it float whole in the pot. Bring to the boil, simmer and reduce for a LONG TIME. Maybe three to four hours. Keep checking the beans, they have to be so soft that they almost fall apart by themselves. The whole mixture should be deep, rich and flavoursome, with not too much moisture. I added another litre of water to mine halfway through, and the beans absorbed it all. Towards the end, remove the whole chili (or leave it in if you have no fear of heat.) Taste and add salt.

I would serve this either in a taco or burrito, by itself with a salad, or on top of some fluffy white rice, in the New Orleans style (not really the same, but still fun. You can be both a crooked Western cowboy and a grizzled old jazz player in the same meal.)

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