Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chili in the Crock

I was brainstorming for menu ideas this cool and dreary past Sunday and my husband chimed in that a big pot of chili for Monday night football would be perfect...
So chili it was!

I've never really made chili before. I know. One of the easiest dishes around and I've never even attempted it. I buy the Banquet Homestyle Bakes chili and cornbread in the box. I know, we're sad. But I just don't like chili. Actually, I've realized over the years, I do like chili, I just hate the beans. And I hate the hassle of picking them out of a good bowl of chili. So I decided to buckle down and find a good no-bean chili recipe to try out this week.

In my searching I made some discoveries...
Did you know that original, classic, true chili doesn't involve beans at all? A popular saying among self-proclaimed chili purists is "If you know beans about Chili, you know Chili ain't got no beans!". The thought that beans do not belong in chili may be further proven in the fact that most official chili cook-offs do not allow beans. In many cases the chili would be disqualified if it contained such ingredients considered "filler".
Chili is a Texas creation, a Texas invention, and a Texas tradition. It was created as a cheap food for cowboys, one that could easily be made while riding the hard trails, and that would also travel well. In other words, it was quick and easy to make, but could be made to serve lots of people over a long period of time. Following the herds across country, a group of cowboys could start a pot of chili, and continually add meat scraps and fat to the pot over the weeks as they traveled--and it only got better as the trail went on. Including beans in chili just wouldn't have happened as dry beans were heavy to travel with and involved a long soaking and cooking time.

So anyway, here was my first attempt at my own homemade "beanless" chili. I picked a simple yet interesting recipe off of Recipezaar and tweaked it just a little according to my pantry and our taste. The original recipe:

1 lb ground beef
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
2 tsp cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1 can tomato paste
1 can diet coke

cook on low at least 6 hours

I chose this recipe because a) it made a decently small amout... enough for 4-6 adults. I knew it would just be me and Ryan eating this and I didn't want to make a huge pot of chili for us to be eating on forever... especially if I didn't know it was a great recipe!
and b) the diet coke and the cocoa really caught my attention and intrigued me.
I love that these are ingredients I would pretty much always have on hand.

Alterations by me:
I didn't realize I didn't have any tomato paste on hand... I used tomato sauce instead
I added a can of diced basil garlic and oregano tomatoes
I added about a clove of chopped garlic and a sprinkle of onion powder

I thought it was really really yummy! Just the right amout of sweet and spicy. I was hesitant on the chili powder and only did about 2 tablespoons and I might go a little more on that next time. Also maybe add some real finely chopped onions. But the consistency was right on and I loved the flavor! Ryan really liked it too. I asked him if I should keep trying other chili recipes to find our favorite and he voted on keeping this one as the norm!
Of course the kids would have nothing to do with it... they pretty much only ate the accompianing corn bread!


Mom said...

It sounds yummy Heather. However I really like beans in my chili them ,(and thay are good for you)so I wil be adding them to the recipe. Not sure when though. It has finally cooled off and I am anxious to do some cheese/ broccoli soup.XOXOX

jenny said...

the fact that this has a can of diet coke in it - sends me over the edge with glee! i love things you can make in a crock.