IMG_3192Chili. I think I’ll make some chili.

The Polar Vortex visited the Peoples of the South last night. We did not answer our doors. We can’t hear you…we can’t hear you.

But we could hear it. It was loud. It threw things at us – tree branches and plastic ashtrays thoughtlessly left on the patio table. When it finally left, the temperature on the deck read 6 degrees and the blizzard had left a threatening amount of snow – almost a quarter of an inch. What is windchill? I’m afraid to go outside and find out. The silence is now deafening. No children are outside building LEGO-sized snowmen. I have not heard a single bird chirp. I fear they are all dead. I just heard something outside. I think it is a Yeti.

But the Peoples of the South know what to do in a weather emergency. They make chili. Making chili produces sound, which comforts us when we contemplate that all wildlife has perished from the Polar Vortex. I never make chili the same way twice. A recipe for chili is merely a suggestion. I am not a snob about chili, however. Beans? Sure, I like beans. Texas chili doesn’t allow beans, but I do not live in Texas so I don’t care what they think. I am an equal-opportunity chili cook. But what kind of beans? I opt for kidney beans most of the time. They just look pretty. There is, of course, an unfortunate side effect to beans when you’re trapped in a house for two or three days. We shall not speak of that.

I am fairly firm on ground chuck, though. It has a higher fat content that ground beef and browning it until the fat is reabsorbed into the meat makes the chili more fattening, which we need because we will soon be battling starvation. Chili powder? I think there’s some in the chili seasoning mix I use to start things off. Why reinvent the wheel? You can add more chili powder if you need it. This batch, I threw in diced tomatoes with chile peppers. Nice. And cornbread. Of course, I am making cornbread. In the South, cornbread is required with chili.

So I offer up chili to appease the Polar Vortex. I am leaving a bowl of it outside tonight. Perhaps it was just hungry.

Chili and cornbread

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 package chili seasoning mix
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
  • 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion
  • ¾ cup beef stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Dash of hot sauce to taste
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat a Dutch oven to medium high. Add the ground chuck and brown thoroughly until the fat has been reabsorbed into the meat. Add the chile seasoning packet and stir for one minute. Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly, continuing to cook for another minute.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, beans, onion, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, cumin and hot sauce. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
  3. Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes before serving.


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