Monday, October 26, 2009
My Venture into Chili
I love to make chili during the fall. This particular recipe is easy-to-make and tastes great, too – and it's even better the next day. Trust me – you and your family will gobble this up!
I live in an apartment building with lots of 20-something-year olds. As you know from a recent post, I have an interesting array of eclectic neighbors. A particularly odd pair live down the hall from me and I often run into them on the elevator. They're an attractive couple and, of course, have perfect bodies, immaculately coifed hair, and wear the latest fashions. The guy tends to be quiet and on the pensive side. She, on the other hand, is loud, obnoxious, and dumber than a box of navel lint. I have no idea what they see in each other because they seemingly have nothing in common except being good-looking. I have no idea what their names are but I call them Abercrombie and Fitch because he could be a catalog model and she can be a fitch…a real fitch.
Fitch has the annoying habit of talking on her cell phone as we're riding up the elevator. The only thing more annoying than that is when I hear guys loudly talking on their cell phones while they're sitting on the toilet in public restrooms. That's just WRONG! Men are pigs. I assure you, women would NEVER do something like that.
Anyway, one day while Fitch and I were waiting for the elevator, she was talking to a friend on her cell phone. As the elevator door opened, she was telling her friend that, no matter how much she ate, she could never gain weight. She'd eat and eat and eat and wouldn't gain a pound. Apparently, she eats nothing but fast food and potato chips and is the same weight she was three years ago. Of course, upon hearing this, I wanted to break the skinny, little thing in half and stuff her inside her clutch purse. Suddenly, it dawned on her that she shouldn't be talking about how rough it is to never gain weight when she was sharing the elevator with me, my big patootie, extra chin, and thunder thighs. She quickly said to her friend "OH! I better stop talking about this.." and then turned her back to me and quietly said "…because I'm in the elevator with a [whispering] F-A-T guy." Sigh. You know, even without super-hero powers or a spandex unitard with matching cape, I could figure out what she was spelling. Without missing a beat, I turned my head and gave her the evil eye – regretting later I didn't give her the evil finger instead. I'm sure she thought that I was famished since I hadn't had eaten anything since we boarded the elevator on the 1st floor and my piercing stare probably made me look like a hungry wildebeest eyeballing a bleached-blond pork chop wearing a white sun dress and pink espadrilles. Fitch.
On another occasion, Fitch and I were waiting for the elevator. As is customary, she was gabbing on her cell phone with a friend. I have to tell you, the sound of her voice gets on my last good nerve. It's as pleasant to listen to as to two feral cats during mating season. The elevator door opened and we got in and I was forced to listen to her claw through a conversation that went something like this:
"…and I got it for 75% off and Heather was like 'NO WAY!' and I was like 'WAY!', and she was like 'NO WAY!' and I was like 'WAY!' and she was like 'NO WAY!' and I was like 'WAY'!"
I PRAYED for the elevator cable to snap. It was like listening to a record that got stuck and was repeating the same loop over and over again. I wanted to smack her upside the head to try to see if that would unstick her. I have no idea what she got 75% off of but I'm guessing it wasn't a Mensa membership.
I'm very fortunate to work in an environment where I get to meet people from many different countries. One time, we had a visitor from Nepal who brought me a gift. The gift was given to me in a large shopping bag that said "KATHMANDU, NEPAL" on the side of the bag. Abercrombie, Fitch, and I were on the elevator and she noticed the shopping bag that I was carrying home. The conversation went something like this:
FITCH: Oh my gaaaaawd! [Pointing at the bag] I think I've shopped at Kathmandu before. It's in Kansas City, right?
VINCE: Uh, no. Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal.
ABERCROMBIE: [Long sigh]
FITCH: Oooohhh. Well, I thought Kathmandu was one of those made-up places. You know, like Timbuktu.
VINCE: Timbuktu is a real place. It's in Africa.
ABERCROMBIE: [To Fitch] Oh, geez. Will you just stop while you're still ahead?! [The doors opened and they started to walk out.]
FITCH: Well, excuse me! Apparently, you have to have a degree in Geology to ride this elevator!
ABERCROMBIE: It's GEOGRAPHY!
What does all of this have to do with my chili recipe? Well today, I saw Fitch on the elevator when I was carrying up the ingredients to make chili and she was wearing a tight, pink t-shirt that said "It's Really Chilly!" with two large, pink rhinestones where her…well, let's such say it was a tasteless t-shirt. I need to find a different place to live. Anyway, I hope you like this chili. Enjoy – and happy chili-making!
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Nacho Cheesy Chili
1 TBSP oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp table salt)
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 1/2 TBSP chili seasoning*
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of tomatoes (sauce, diced, or pureed – they all work well)
1 1/2 TBSP tomato paste
2 cans chili beans (such as William's or Bush's)
2 1/2 cups V8 Juice**
1/3 cup finely crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips such as Doritos***
1-4 oz can green chilis (optional)
1 or 2 jalapenos, minced (optional)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
1 cup EACH freshly grated parmesan Cheese and sharp cheddar cheese****
Additional salt and pepper
Extra Doritos at serving time
Freshly Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese for topping
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes or until they just begin to soften. Add the ground beef, 1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook until brown then drain. To the browned meat, add the chili seasoning, garlic, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the V8 Juice, chili beans, can of tomatoes, crushed Doritos, and any of the optional ingredients listed above. Do NOT add the cheeses yet. Stir, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer (around medium-low). Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cheeses and stir to combine. Allow the cheese to melt for about a minute then stir again. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. It is highly likely you will need more salt. I add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of additional kosher salt (half that amount for table salt) but I'll let you decide how much to add. The chili should be rich and thick and the ground beef should be very tender. If it is too thick add a little water or V8 Juice.
To serve, ladle some chili into a bowl and top with some additional Doritos and freshly grated cheddar cheese.
* Chili Seasoning and chili powder are technically different things. Popular brands of chili seasoning include Williams and McCormick. Chili seasoning contains chili powder as the primary ingredient but also includes things like onion powder, garlic powder, etc. If you can't find chili seasoning, no biggie. Use chili powder instead.
** Why V8 Juice? V8 juice is made up of several pureed veggies including tomatoes, carrots, celery, and more. Plain tomato juice or canned tomato sauce does not have the same depth of flavor.
*** To make 1/3 cup of finely crushed Doritos, measure out 1 cup of Doritos – breaking each Dorito into a few pieces so they lay properly in the cup. If you have some Doritos left in the bottom of the bag that are already in small pieces, this is a great use for them. Dump the cup of Doritos into a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush the chips. After they are finely crushed, you'll have about 1/3 cup.
**** You really need to use freshly grated cheese in this instead of the stuff that comes pre-shredded. Pre-shredded cheeses contains stabilizers that can sometimes impede melting. For this reason, I highly recommend that you use freshly grated in this recipe.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 8:03 PM