Vicki’s Award Winning Chili

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Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw

Brrrrr…. It has been so cold lately! For the last few weeks we have been in the middle of what many consider to be very “old fashioned” winter weather. The snow totals that have been seen in the region are nothing short of crazy, and the temperatures have been unpleasant for those of us who prefer summer! I really enjoyed the brief reprieve we had with a couple of mild days thrown in. I tend to feel like my grandfather when I hear myself mutter “I remember the days…” but truly, the weather does remind me of winters when I was much younger…lots of snow and lots of cold, uphill both ways to school in waist deep snow… you have all heard that story! The cold is isn’t bad when you can stay in and look out at it, but for those of us that actually have to leave the house to make our way to work, it is a rather rude awakening as we step out the door!

The cold weather makes me crave foods that will warm me from the inside out, and chili was the first food to come to my mind this morning! Whether you like your chili meaty or loaded with beans, spicy or mild, thick or thin, I believe it all comes down to the cook! As is the case` with most foods, you can give ten cooks the same recipe and ingredients, and I can guarantee the outcome will be ten completely different tasting bowls of chili. Every cook generally adds their own spin to a recipe, be it by the heft with which they measure the ingredients, the variety (or brand) of ingredients they use, or quite simply, the love that they add in making it!

Traditionally, chili con carne is made with ground beef and chili peppers or chili powder, often with tomatoes and beans, but as I just mentioned, it can be made to the cook’s desire. Ground beef can be supplemented with or replaced by ground sausage or ground turkey. If you add tomatoes, whole, diced, or crushed can be interchanged or combined. Rather than adding just one kind of bean (typically dark red kidney beans are used) I like to use both light and dark kidneys, but again, cook’s choice is the name of the game! Chopped fresh chili peppers and onions are typical additions, and ground chili powder (I like to use dark chili powder) and ground cumin add the traditional flavor to the party. And let us not forget the kick and toppings…nothing kicks up a steaming bowl of chili like a dash of hot sauce, a sprinkle of cheddar and a dollop of sour cream!

Chili is a terrific crock pot meal…start it in the morning and dinner is ready when you walk in the door. It also is a super “big batch” dish…make a double or triple batch! Night one is traditional chili con carne, night two is nachos with chili and cheese and the rest goes in the freezer for an easy meal when you think there is nothing in the house to eat! The next time you are writing your grocery list, why not add the ingredients you need for that double batch of chili and get your comfort on!!

Vicki’s Award Winning Chili

(yes, it really did win a chili cook off!!)

  • 1 # ground beef
  • 1 # ground Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T diced chipotle pepper
  • 2-15 oz cans dark red kidney beans
  • 2- 15 oz cans light red kidney beans
  • 2-15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T dark chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • ½ C BBQ sauce
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour cream

Brown meats with onions and pepper, drain fat. Mix with all remaining ingredients in crock pot. Stir gently. Cook on low all day (8-10 hours).

Serve topped with Red Hot, cheese and sour cream as desired.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.