Chillin’ with Chili

Our crackerjack weather people have coined the phrase “polar vortex” and they seem quite keen to use it. I could understand its meaning back in January when the air dipped to a chilly 5 below zero. But at the end of a balmy fall when we go down to 32 (brrrr- 32!!!) it seems less apt. All of this is to say that it’s finally getting cold and I am ready to make some chili.

This morning's Polar Vortex.

This morning’s Polar Vortex.

My version of chili is technically a texas chili, with cubes of stew meat browned in bacon fat, coated with spices and braised in beef broth and tomatoes until falling-apart tender. I have also made the more common soupy chili with ground beef and beans, but my family is not crazy about it so I stick to my quirky concoction. It is incredibly easy. You spend a few minutes at the stove rendering bacon fat, browning the meat, onions and garlic, coating it with spices and deglazing it all with tomatoes and beef broth. Then you leave it to bubble away on the stove with an occasional stir or two. I don’t even have a particularly sophisticated spice mix. I’ll throw in a generous couple of tablespoons of chili powder, some cumin, maybe a little smoked paprika (my current obsession) and cayenne if it needs heat. I serve it over brown rice with lots of butter and cumin and a green salad, probably not health food but yummy anyway.

A pile of fresh chilis would make a spicy bowl indeed.

A pile of fresh chilis would make a spicy bowl indeed.

In addition to being delicious, chili is portable. Just spoon it into a deep bowl and dig in: at the table, in front of a football game or around a fire pit. Anything spicy and stewy will warm you up when it’s cold outdoors, so bring on that polar vortex!

Stay warm, Joy

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