Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chili time!

Because the nights are getting marginally cooler, I jumped the gun and made chili last night. It's still August, I know, August in Alabama; however, autumn is my favorite time of year, and around this time I have a hard time refraining from celebrating the impending arrival of cool weather and attractive foliage.

I busted out my beautiful, Le Creuset oval Dutch oven (in sunny Dijon) and set to work browning the meat. After coming in third place in a chili cookoff three years ago, I perfected my recipe. I'm not exactly the type to be content with third place. So I prepared enough different types of chili to practically host my own cookoff. My husband assures me I make the best chili in the world, although we differ on what exactly that entails. I like chili made with steak, where the meat shreds with a fork and melts in your mouth. My husband likes plain 'ol ground beef chili, with a little ground sausage mixed in for over the top flavor. I give in and make his ideal chili.

I'm sure he'd be content with meat and beans (thankfully he's not of the Texas beanless persuasion) but I have to have at least some vegetables. I chop a green bell pepper, a red bell pepper, and a yellow onion. They go into the pot and brown with the meat. I love it when sweet red peppers get sweeter the longer they cook, and the color is just too pretty. After the meat is fully cooked, I toss in a few cans of beans and diced tomatoes, some spices, and voila, it's chili time!

#2 Chili
Makes 10 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
1 roll hot pork sausage (I use Jimmy Dean's Reduced Fat)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2-3 dashes hot sauce (I like Crystal Extra Hot)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown pork and beef over medium high heat. When meat is no longer pink, add chili powder, cumin, and seasoning. Stir and then add onion, garlic, red pepper and green pepper. Stir until peppers and onions are soft. Add undrained beans and tomatoes. Season with hot sauce and salt and pepper and let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until flavors are thoroughly combined. Serve with cornbread, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped red onions, if desired.

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