Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chili with Bacon and Black Beans

This recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated. My friend Mary and her husband try CI recipes all the time and are almost always pleased with the results. When something is particularly good, she sends me the recipe (they're online but she has the actual cookbooks). I have a nice collection of these recipes so I thought I'd try a chili. I halved (kinda) the recipe because I was only cooking for two. My notes are in parenthesis.

Beef Chili with Bacon and Black Beans

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10. Published March 1, 2003.

From CI: Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne--or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

8 ounces bacon [about 8 strips], cut into 1/2-inch pieces (could have used more! Mary told me this but I forgot until it was too late)
2 medium onions , chopped fine [about 2 cups]
1 red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press [about 2 tablespoons]
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef (I used ground turkey - 1.3 lbs)
2 cans [16 ounces each] black beans , drained and rinsed
1 [28-ounce] can diced tomatoes , with juice
1 can [28 ounces] tomato puree (even though I halved the recipe, I used the entire 28 oz)
table salt
2 limes cut into wedges (I did not use)

Fry bacon in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat, leaving bacon in pot. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.
My thoughts:

  • Greg does not have a dutch oven so I used a medium/large saucepan. I had to brown the meat in a fry pan because the saucepan was too small.
  • I had half of a jalapeno pepper so I chopped it and browned it with the pepper and onion.
  • Since I used a lot of tomato puree, I wish I would have added more black beans and/or kidney beans.
  • We ate it with shredded cheddar and tortilla chips (Snyder's of Hanover Restaurant Style are very good!)
  • CI is correct about making the chili ahead of time. I simmered it for less than two hours because we were so hungry, but when I packed some for my lunch today, it looked darker and thicker.
  • I think from here on out, I will be using bacon (good with almost everything) and red bell pepper (a little sweetness to offset the spiciness) in my chili.
  • The next CI recipe I have my eye on is a chocolate pudding cake.

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