I want to share with you one of my favorite seasonal recipes. I don't know how you feel about this, but I just don't think it's normal to have chili on the other side of the year. No chili dogs, no chili fries. No chili. After about April every year, I tuck this one away and don't think about it again until the leaves start falling. Guess what? Leaves are falling!
My daddy taught me to love chili. I have to be honest, though, I don't have much of a tolerance for heat, so I keep the spice toned down! You won't fry your tongue on this recipe, but you will warm your belly. And if you add corn (as I do most of the time), it adds an interesting sweet tone to contrast the savory spice.
Classic Chili and Cornbread:Ingredients:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped onion (tip: I pre-chop and freeze my onions in freezer bags to use as needed for recipes like this one)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1 Tsp onion powder
- 1/2 Tsp pepper
- 1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 Tsp oregano
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 can Ro-Tel
- 1 can chili beans
- 1 can whole kernel corn
- 1 large can tomato sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2-4 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 Tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 Tsp. salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus extra to coat your pan)
Put 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet or stock pot. I have this awesome non-stick Caphalon chili pot that I use for all my soup recipes. Now add your onions and minced garlic: fry them up until they're nicely caramelized (slightly browned, not scorched!). Remove them from the pan into a bowl and set them aside until later.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil and then brown your ground beef in the same pan. You don't have to wash it out!
Measure out all your spices while your beef is browning. That's just my advice, and you can take it or leave it. I like to add them all at the same time! After the beef is cooked, add your caramelized onions and garlic, a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup, give or take- this is soup, not science!), and your powdered spices. Let that simmer while you open up your cans.
A note about the canned ingredients: I change these up all the time. Sometimes I used canned vegetables. Sometimes, I use dried beans and cook them according to the package directions before starting my chili. Sometimes I use red kidney beans. Sometimes I cook up some rice and throw that in, other times I put in some black beans. There are no rules! I'm a free spirit with my chili.
Bring it all to a boil, then turn your heat to "low". Now cover that baby up and let 'er simmer! For a long time- the longer the better.
After the chili is simmering, I start on a pan of cornbread. Let me tell you, I've been using the recipe on the back of the Aunt Jemima bag for as long as I can remember. If they ever change up their packaging, I'll be in trouble. Except, not anymore because now it will be recorded here for future reference! But, whatever.
Let me keep this really simple. Baking is easy. Usually it goes like this:
Mix all your dry ingredients in a big bowl.
Then add all your wet ingredients. Stir it all up really good.
Now, here's the secret to perfect cornbread. Ready for this? Coat the bottom of your pan with oil. Be generous but don't over do it. I use a pie dish but you can use a cast iron skillet, muffin tin, or even a square baking dish. I'm not one for rules, remember? You put the pan in the oven while it's preheating- for this recipe, you preheat the oven to 425 degrees. (Maybe I could have told you that before you started... forgive me.) After the oven is heated up, pull the pan out and add your mixed up cornbread goo. Yes, that's a technical term. This way, the mix forms a nice crust on it and won't stick to the pan when it's done!
Now wait. For muffins, wait 15-18 minutes. For a pie dish like mine, it'll take a little longer- 20-23 minutes.
While we're waiting, how about a glimpse at what's going on behind the scenes? You know, I've got this rule about being honest. So, here it is:
A sink full of dishes. Happens every time!
...and the sleeping baby. Hawk didn't actually live up to my expectations on this particular morning. I had hoped he'd sleep after I left Seth at preschool, like he usually does. He only slept for about ten minutes, though, so my plans to shoot these pictures in the best light (between 8:30-9:30am) were diverted! We played and played, until he got fussy but refused to nurse or eat or, well, anything except fuss. So, I plopped him down in the high chair and gave him some Goldfish... then off to sleepyland he went. And there I am, searching for a pair of jeans... in the full laundry basket sitting in my dining room. Don't ask why I haven't put these clothes away yet.
At Seth's school, the parents have to park and get out of their car to come meet the teachers at the entrance to the school for pickup time. Drop off is easier- an older student comes to the car and makes sure he gets to his classroom, so I don't ever actually have to get out of the car. Do you see where I'm going with this? Yes, I've been wearing my pajama pants all morning- a look that is decidedly NOT part of my capsule wardrobe. Neither is that Batman tee I'm wearing, but all of the other moms arrive in an assortment of band or football team tees, scrubs, track suits and yoga pants, and I'm not one to try and outshine everyone. So there's your honesty for today.
Now it's time to go pick up Seth- but lookie here! It's also time to pull the cornbread out of the oven. I think the chili is as good as done, as well. So, hooray! The timing is good, because now our lunch is served.
I like my chili with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheese: