Thursday, March 26, 2009

Snow Day

We are getting our first real snow storm of the season. The kids even got sent home early from school today. Such glee! Colorado weather can be so funny. March is on record as being our snowiest month most years. I was so excited to have a snowy day because I thought that gave me one more chance to have chili! Light spring cooking can wait! I have tweaked this recipe a little here, a little there, and I am as happy as can be with it now. I make it alternately with beef or ground turkey. I like both versions equally well. I had ground turkey in the freezer so that made my choice easy this time. There are a lot of variables you can play with to spice it up or down so it is easy to make it suit your taste. We like it in the mild to medium range if I know my kids will be eating it. Otherwise I prefer it to have a solid medium zip to it if I don't have to be concerned with whom I am sharing it. Sometimes I use the mild green chiles in a can or I might use some fire-roasted Big Jim's or Poblanos for a little more heat that I roast myself or get from the farmer's market (I keep a stash in the freezer). I like to add black beans and corn because the contrasting colors are really pretty in the bowl and the veggies just make it even healthier for you. I cook it for hours but it could cook for as little as 90 minutes and still be great. Of course, the next day's leftover's are even better...if you still have any. Serve it hot, over cooked rice or not, with all the usual toppings- sour cream, cheese, maybe some diced avocado, fresh cilantro or onion and warm, freshly baked corn bread. I can't wait for dinner!

My Favorite Chili

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey or lean ground beef
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh diced onions
4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic, peeled
1 c. shredded carrot, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
1-2 tsp. dried red chili flakes, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 c. chili powder (doesn't contribute to heat really)
1- 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice, coarsely pureed
1 -6 oz can tomato paste
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 1/2 c. chicken broth (substitute beef broth if using ground beef for meat)
1 -15 oz. can black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
1/2 c. fire-roasted diced green chiles (from a can or your favorite)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 c. frozen corn (optional)

Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown turkey or beef in in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (such as enameled cast iron). Remove meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Wipe out fat. In same pot, pour in olive oil. Heat until hot but not smoking. Stir in onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cumin , chili flakes and chili powder. Cook and stir for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent seasoning from scorching. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, diced green chiles, broth and beans of your choice. Season lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer on very low heat for 90 minutes to 3 hours (I prefer the longer cooking time), stirring occasionally. Stir in corn during last 20 minutes of cooking. When chili is thickened and reduced it is just right! Serve straight from the pot with your favorite toppings.

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