Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cooking Light's All American Chili - THE absolute best chili recipe

Being a Texas girl, chili is in my blood...my mom fed it to me in my first week of life, she made me eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (just kidding...it was only breakfast and dinner, I could eat bologne and mayonnaise on white bread for lunch!) Seriously, the chili she fed me in my younger years was probably Hormel... out of a can. It was great out-of-a-can chili, but this recipe is in a different league...like the difference between a bicycle and a Mercedes.

Either turn on your printer, grab a pen and paper, or call Cooking Light for the Jan/Feb 2003 issue...or maybe you have your laptop in the kitchen.

Start with an onion.
Oops, cut off any bad parts...

You need two cups of chopped onion.

Now, the recipe in Cooking Light calls for 6 ounces of hot turkey Italian sausage. I don't think I've ever had any hot turkey Italian sausage, so I just use turkey Polska Kielbasa. It's not hot, in case we have Marvin over for chili... but it's delicious!
Cut it in half, then cut it again across.
It's already cooked if you want to snag a bite.
One jalapeno. Cut the top off and take out the innards. The more seeds you leave in, the hotter it will be.
I take out some... and leave some in...
Be sure you wash your hands after cutting it up, and don't rub your eyes in the meantime!
The recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper. I didn't have a green bell pepper, but I did have these delicious little mini peppers in yellow, orange, and red. They're much more colorful and I like the taste better. So I rinsed off a handful.
Whack the tops off, take out the innards, just like you did with the jalapeno.
Here comes the garlic. 8 cloves of garlic, minced.
You may be paying close attention and notice there are more than 8 cloves...as well as the fact that there was more than 6 ounces of turkey kielbasa. That's because I'm making a batch and a half.
Chop, chop, chop the garlic.
Um, can you tell these photos are different? One is with the flash and one is without. Without the flash, it will blur easier. I think I may have to get a new, better-equipped-to-take-photos-without-a-flash camera before my grandsons get here. They probably won't hold still for too long, unless they're asleep.
Now you're ready to dump it all in the pan. Put in the 2 cups onion, 6 ounces of sausage, 1 cup bell pepper, 8 cloves of garlic diced/minced, 1 jalapeno pepper, and....

stir it up...
and throw in 1 pound of ground sirloin.

Cook this about 8 - 10 minutes until the meat is browned. Be sure and break up the clumps of meat.
Now it's time for tomato paste. You need 3 tablespoons. Whenever I open a can, I freeze the rest. I seldom use an entire can of tomato paste in a recipe. This clump was FOOTF - (Fresh out of the freezer!)

What is all this you ask? Well, it's the spices. Mix in a small bowl: 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Add that to your mix and stir it well. If you're tomato paste isn't FOOTF, you can add it and the spices at the same time.
Yum, this is smelling delicious by this time!
Add two bay leaves, then cook all this about a minute. Make sure you stir it so it doesn't start to stick on the bottom of your pan.
Now the secret ingredient... vino ... I used part Shiraz and part Merlot, but you can use straight merlot or straight shiraz, you just want 1 1/4 cups of a 'fruity red wine'.

Stir in the wine, plus 2 28-oz cans tomatoes. The recipe calls for whole tomatoes, but I don't do that. I like to use fire-roasted diced tomatoes. If you use whole tomatoes, you have to 'coarsely chop' them. Um? I figure why do that? Just use diced in the first place. Two cans of this!

Stir all those tomatoes in.
Open two cans of kidney beans and drain and rinse them.
Add those to the pot.
You may notice my pot is quite full. Remember, I'm making a batch and a half. My friend Margie was in a car accident Thursday, so I'm making some to take to her. You might want to make a batch and a half even if you're not taking any to a friend. This is even better the second day ... and the third... plus you can freeze it.
Oh yum... stir it all up.
You want to bring it to a boil. See what happens when you bring a full pot of chili to a boil? It goes down the side of your pot... it lands on your stove top.
See the bubbles? It's starting to boil.

Now put the lid on ... and turn the heat down and let it simmer for an hour.
You might want to call someone while it's simmering.
Or you might want to be cleaning on the kitchen while your valentine is calling someone. My valentine is loving the smells coming out of the kitchen. He could have called from another room, but no, he wanted to be where the action was.
Ok, about an hour has gone by. That was fast, don't you think?
You can see how much it's cooked down. After an hour, take the lid off and let it continue to simmer, uncovered, another 30 minutes. You can see how much farther it cooked down.
Now is the time to remove the foliage from the pot.
You can leave it in if you want. I've left it in before and told the person who found the bay leaf that they 'won the prize.' There was no prize... but it was OK....
Now you're ready to serve it. (Have you made your cornbread yet? This is ESSENTIAL!)
Grate some cheese. I prefer cheddar, but I didn't have any. I thought I did...or I would have run to Safeway and bought some. When the chili was ready and the missing cheddar was discovered, I said 'RATS' and grated up some monterey jack instead.
It was definitely delicious.
Here's the chili in my Fire & Light bowl... see the cheese sitting in the background? See the basket on the left that is holding fresh, out of the oven cornbread?

Pile that cheese on.
Butter the cornbread...
and enjoy!

All American Chili

6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cup Merlot or other fruity red wine
1 (28-0z) cans whole tomatoes undrained and coarsely chopped
2 (15-oz) cans kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

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