I got together with a friend for coffee last Saturday morning. Thank goodness for steamy warm coffee shops on frigid winter days. What a relief to peel off a few dozen layers of warm clothes, and scarf, and gloves, and wrap my hands around a hot mug, and just thaw a bit. And what fun to chat with a fellow food lover and blogger, toss ideas around, and discuss all-important subjects such as the relative merits of a good sharp knife vs. a food processor.
And to my delight, V. had brought me a little something special. A sandwich sized ziploc; contents wrapped snuggly in waxed paper. She told a funny little story about how she had set out to make blue corn tortillas and changed course midstream, ending up with cornbread. There were two wedges of that blue corn cornbread in the bag.
I love the spontaneous generosity of my fellow foodies. I love the community created by cooking and sharing. And the timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous, as Michael had just taken the remains of our Superbowl Sunday chili out of the freezer to thaw.
Sunday afternoon, after returning from another bone-chilling trip back outside to attend the opera, we heated up the chili and put the cornbread in the toaster oven to warm. Ah, comfort food. The chili had a definite kick, and the mild cornbread, slathered in butter, provided a delicious contrast.
I know there is no shortage of debate about what constitutes authentic chili. I don’t pretend to have anything meaningful to add to that discussion. I just know what I like, and that is a version of chili con carne made in the crock pot—simple, hot, thick, filling, and spicy. This recipe freezes well, so don’t hesitate to make a big pot of it.
It is fine eaten plain, or you can dress it up with corn chips, cheese, even sour cream. We like to eat it over rice, with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.
Chili Con Carne
- 1 cup dry kidney beans
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 poblano peppers, roasted, charred, skin removed, and diced (optional, but delicious)
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- ½ cup masa
Soak beans overnight. Drain, rinse, and put beans in crock pot. Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. When ground beef is almost cooked through, add onions and peppers and continue cooking until beef is browned. Drain and add to crock pot. Add tomatoes, spices, and enough water to fill pot. Stir, then cover and set to low. Cook for 8 hours, or until beans are tender. Blend masa with a small amount of water, and stir into chili to thicken.