Photos and Words by Julianna Flamio
There is no denying that Mother Winter has been in a cruel mood recently. As I teeter on icy sidewalks and combat a cough, I find myself daydreaming of either a beach or a steaming bowl of [insert all kinds of comfort food here]. My comfort food would be the dishes that I grew up on: Sunday gravy (different meats cooked down in tomato sauce served with pasta), escarole and beans, pasta fazool (or its proper name: pasta e fagioli) and my favorite, my dad's chili. There seems to be a few trends with my comfort food: one-pot meals, pasta and beans...Anyway, I have been craving chili since the first days of frost in November. On Super Bowl Sunday my family sent me a picture of my dad's chili simmering on the stove, and I nearly flipped over the styrofoam container of Sunset nachos. That's an exaggeration – I enjoyed those nachos. I realized the only way to have the foods I love is to actually learn to make them myself. And so, I called my dad, scribbled down the recipe and dedicated a snowy afternoon to comfort food cooking.At first I was intimidated by making this dish – what if I mess it up? what if I poison myself by not browning the beef enough (c'mon I know I am not the only one who thinks this when they cook meat)? However, it was pretty easy – just a lot of dumping ingredients into a pot and stirring. A lot of stirring.
Chili is both good for your wallet and very versatile. Most of the ingredients are college-kitchen staples. Plus, when cooking for one person it yields a ton of servings. You can freeze it to save for other meals. I have already used most of my leftover chili for nachos (store-bought salsa, tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese baked at 300 degrees until cheese melted with homemade guacamole). You can also use your frozen batch of chili for taco night, as a baked potato topping, or you can stuff it into a pita pocket. There are a myriad of chili recipes on the Internet that are similar to my dad's or super gourmet ones like this chili with white beans and winter veggies by Bon Appétit. Now that I mastered a standard chili I plan to improvise the next time around.
Family Recipe: Chili Prep time: approximately 10 minutes Cooking time: approximately one hour and 15 minutes
1 pound of ground beef sirloin
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 six-oz can (or two tablespoons) of tomato paste
1 or 2 15-oz can(s) of tomato sauce
1/2 can of kidney beans, drained
1/2 bottle of beer (I used Corona Extra)
Finely chopped jarred jalapeño peppers
Shredded or shaved cheddar cheese
1 cup of brown rice
- Finely chop the onion and bell pepper.
- Spread a pinch of salt on the bottom of a non-stick pan at medium to high heat.
- Add the ground beef sirloin and break up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon as it browns (approximately 8–9 minutes).
- Drain off excess fat and transfer the beef back to the pan.
- In a deep pot add the olive oil, onion, bell pepper and a pinch of salt at medium heat. Let the onion and bell pepper “sweat out” (do not let them brown). Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the beef and beer, and stir. Add the tomato sauce. Add the kidney beans. Add pinches of salt and ground black pepper. Add the chili powder and stir.
- Cover the chili and let it simmer on low heat for one hour. Stir every ten minutes.
- Serve over brown rice and garnish with shavings of cheddar cheese. Optional: add desired amount of chopped jalapeno peppers.
Note: I used only one can of sauce, but you can add another can (or 1/2 can) if you desire a looser chili. Also, season with chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.