Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Homemade Chili

This chili is less expensive and healthier than store bought chili. Remember that the fairly pricey initial purchase of spices will pay off big time in the long run. They last a long time and can be used for many, many different recipes.
My chili recipe is two-part: the chili itself, and the seasoning (which is never store bought!) Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Chili (completely from scratch)

4 c. Water*
1 to 1 and 1/4 c. Beans (I use mostly Kidney Beans and make up the rest with lentils and cranberry beans)
3 Tbs. Chili Seasoning, divided (see below)
2 c. drained and chopped vegetables (I'll use 1 c. canned tomatoes, then add diced onions, bell peppers, even chipotle peppers if I feel like it. Almost anything southwestern will work).

* Instead of water, I like to use vegetable broth, liquid drained from the tomatoes, etc. This adds a great flavor to the beans.

In a crock pot, combine 2 ½ cups water, beans, and 1 1/2 Tbs. of chili seasoning. Let cook on Low until beans are soft (I usually let them cook overnight). Once beans are cooked, add vegetables and 1 1/2 Tbs. of seasoning. Add more water as needed. Cook until veggies are soft.
Add more seasoning if desired. Serve with fresh avocado and shredded cheese on top of a nice bowl of tortilla chips for an amazing meal! It stays good in the fridge for several days, and is freezable if you want to make a lot and save it for a rainy day.

Should you desire to add some meaty texture, I'd recommend using TVP (textured vegetable protein). It may sound weird, but it's very similar to ground beef, but with lower fat content. If your finished chili is runnier than you want it to be, the dry TVP will absorb some of the extra liquid.
If you would rather just use ground beef or turkey, cook it separately and flavor it with more chili seasoning. Make sure you drain it VERY well before adding it to the chili, or you'll be adding a lot of grease.

It's a pretty straight-forward recipe, but here's the deal: it's hyper-flexible. Don't like bell peppers? Don't add them! Prefer crushed tomatoes to diced? Fine! Like a wetter chili? Add more liquid. Etc, etc, etc. Prefer more beans, less beans, more veggies, or less? Make it spicier, garlickier, plainer, fancier, whatever you want!
That's what I love about cooking at home. Much more personalization is possible. Really, most recipes are. For instance, with the banana bread posted last week, if you don't like all the spices, then you can omit them, and you can add nuts instead. Or add both. Also, if you happen to be living in a vegan household, use non-dairy milk and butter. It won't change the final product significantly.

Chili Seasoning
1 Tbs. Cumin/Cumin Seed (a heaping Tablespoon!)
1 Tbs. Paprika
1 tsp. Fennel Seed (I use whole)
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp. Salt

Basically, just mix all ingredients and store. This amount of seasoning will get you through two batches of chili, depending on how much you decide to use. I always try to use whole Cumin Seed and Fennel Seed (as opposed to powdered or ground), but that's mostly because I like using my mortar and pestle. It gives me the (possibly misguided) impression that the end result tastes better for having hand-ground the spices.
For spice (optional, but certainly recommended!): Some Cayenne Pepper, Chipotle Pepper, or Chili Powder. Be very careful, as a little bit of spice will go a very long way when dealing with crock pot cooking! Always start with less and add more as needed.

This spice mix is also great for ground beef or TVP (if you're vegetarian or vegan) when adding it to chili, or for taco night.

No comments:

Post a Comment