Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When the warnings are posted on Sunday for a storm not scheduled to hit until Tuesday night, you know you need to be prepared and to hunker down.  We have blizzard warnings and the weather people expect 2 to 3-inches of snow per hour.  Sounds like a good time for a bowl of chili.

So warm and comforting while the blizzard blows outside.  Enjoy!!

A dear friend asked me where were the spices in Mom's Spaghetti posting.  I told her I didn't even think Mom could get Italian spices in our neighborhood when I was young.  We had chili powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg on our spice shelf.  We sure didn't have green chiles, cumin, black beans, or garlic.  In the Midwest, tortillas only came in cans. There were no fresh tortillas or even Monterrey Jack cheese.

I see chefs on TV pouring handfuls of cumin into their dishes.  When I use to use cumin at work one of my co-workers said it smelled like dirty socks.  I think cumin should be used sparingly.  To me cumin is the base note of the symphony of spices and I don't think you want to overwhelm a dish with it.

Mom's secret ingredient.

My Mom's secret ingredient in her chili is tomato soup.  I have found that the undiluted soup smooths out the other flavors in the chili taking off their sharp edges and adding a richness to the flavor.  A former co-worker has used My Mom's secret ingredient in all his prize winning chilies since I told him what My Mom added to hers.

The only pepper my Mom knew about was a green pepper and she didn't like it in her chili. She always served this with GRANDMA'S JOHNNY CAKE, a tradition that my children follow and enjoy.  http://michigancottagecook.blogspot.com/2010/12/grandmas-johnny-cake-corn-bread.html

1 lb. ground beef
Onion, chopped
1 large (1lb.14oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 can dark red kidney beans
Chili powder, to taste

Brown the ground beef and onions, drain well. Add other ingredients and simmer, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 hours.

As I learned more about seasonings and Southwestern foods, the list of ingredients in my chili grew longer and longer. I still use my Mom's recipe for the base of my chili because I like the way the tomato soup smooths out the other flavors. Plus I don't think I could make it any other way but Mom's way. Tradition. I like to add a lot of beans to my chili for health reasons, the more beans the better. I like the visual effect of all the different colors of the beans in the chili too.

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 to 3 onions, chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large (1lb.14oz.) can stewed tomatoes, unseasoned except for salt
1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 can (4oz.) green chilies, drained and chopped or fresh green
chilies, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 can (16oz.) dark red kidney beans
1 can (16oz.) pinto beans
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well, optional
1 can small red beans, optional
Dash cumin
Chili powder, to taste
A little Mexican oregano, optional
Dash or more Tabasco sauce, optional
Sprig of cilantro, minced, optional

Ingredients:  Ground beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes, tomato soup, green chilies, red kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, small red beans, cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano, cilantro, and Tabasco sauce.

Brown the beef and drain. Saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan. Cover. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 hours or longer.  NOTE:  Mexican oregano, more aromatic than Italian, can be found in the section of the grocery store where they sell the chile peppers in cellophane bags.  I drain the black beans as they add a yucky color if not drained.  The other beans I add with their liquid as it adds a thickness to the chili.  Draining or not draining is a personal preference.

Brown ground beef and drain.

Mince garlic.

Skin onions.

Chop onions.

Saute onions and garlic.

Saute until soft and translucent.

Put ground beef, onions, and garlic in a big pot.

Rinse black beans well.

Squeeze tomatoes to break them into smaller pieces.

Add tomato soup.

Add pinto beans.

Add kidney beans.

Add small red beans.

The pot of beans and meat.

Looking good.

Slice green chilies.

Chop chilies and add to chili.

Add chili powder to taste.

Add a little Mexican oregano.

Add a touch of cumin.

Ready to simmer.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!

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