February 3, 2012

Superbowl Chili

I'm writing this in February, one day after temperatures hit 60 degrees in Boston.

Lots of people love this unusually warm winter. But not me. I like having four seasons. Since moving to Boston years ago, I've resigned myself to missing spring. Here in the northeast they call spring "mud season." That's because the temps are warm enough to melt the snow, but not much else.

But my family counts on Boston for cold, snowy winters. Why? My husband wants to ski. My son wants to go snow tubing.

And me? Well, I want to eat warm, cozy, comfort foods. To me, cold weather means savory soups and stews; piping hot lasagna; rich brisket and steaming bowls of spicy chili.

But if the weather won't cooperate, I'll just have to ignore Mother Nature. After all, it's early February, and that means Superbowl Sunday. (And once again the Pats are in the Superbowl, so at least I can cling to that bit of normalcy!)

And what's better for a Superbowl spread than chili? If you're like me and you actually want to watch the game (and the commercials), then chili is your best bet. You can make it ahead of time. Then, during the came, just keep a pot of it bubbling on the stove. Everyone can go grab a bowl whenever they want, and you can concentrate on the game instead of playing host.

This chili is a classic American chili. It's got onions, garlic and bell pepper, ground beef and beans, tomatoes, and beer. You can vary the types and amounts of chili powder to make it as mild or spicy as you like. And there's even some unsweetened cocoa powder in there for a little "what am I tasting?" factor.

If you're feeding a crowd, put out lots of toppings. That way everyone can personalize the chili to their tastes. I tend to go crazy with the toppings on chili. I like to load it up with shredded cheese, minced onions, mashed avocado, tomatoes and sour cream. I use tortilla chips as a vehicle to get the chili in my mouth. But you can also serve it over rice.

So enjoy the chili and the game, and...

GO PATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil until vegetables are tender.

Add ground beef. Break it up and cook until meat is browned.

Gather your dry spices: ground cumin, dried oregano, unsweetened cocoa powder, and chili powder. You can change up the flavor of this chili by varying the types of chili powder you use. I used a combination of regular chili powder, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and cayenne pepper.

Add the dry spices to the meat and stir for a couple of minutes until the meat is thoroughly coated with the spices and the spices are fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, beef broth, beer and tomato paste.

Simmer until the chili thickens.

Add the beans (I used a combination of kidney and pinto) and simmer a little longer. Taste for salt and pepper.

Top with your favorite toppings and dig in!

Superbowl Chili

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds ground beef (I used 93% lean)
8 Tbsp chili powder (I used 6 Tbsp regular chili powder, 2 Tbsp ancho chili powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup beef broth
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 12-ounce bottle beer
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 15- to 16-ounce cans beans (used 1 can kidney beans and 1 can pinto beans)

Optional (but highly recommended!) toppings:
            shredded cheese
            chopped onions or scallions
            chopped tomatoes
            mashed avocado
            sour cream
            hot sauce
            tortilla chips

1.      Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

2.      Add ground beef and sauté until brown, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes.

3.      Add chili powder(s), cumin, basil, oregano and cocoa powder. Stir 2 minutes.

4.      Mix in crushed tomatoes, beef broth, beer and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

5.      Mix in beans. Simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: You can refrigerate this chili for up to 3 days before you eat it. Or make and freeze it. Rewarm over low heat before serving.

Serves 8 to 10

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