Monday, December 19, 2011

chili: hard times style

my helping with half an avocado - so good!

Decades ago, when we still lived in the Washington D.C. area, we made an almost weekly pilgrimage to the Hard Times Cafe.  Their Chili Mac is world famous and their restaurants family-friendly.  It was a great place when my husband moved to DC as a twenty-something - cheap and easy for crowds of young people late at night. It was still a great place when we married and had our children - boys who enjoyed throwing food from their high-chairs.  :)

Eight years ago, when we moved away, I began a quest to replicate their gravy-style chili to serve over spaghetti noodles.  It didn't happen overnight - but what follows is our family's version.  Serve it like we do - straight-up, over spaghetti or over rice.  Toppings of your choice make it special and the large recipe is great for a crowd or for freezing.

It is a busy week - just before Christmas and vacation - so I used our crock pot.  But on
a quieter afternoon, you can slow simmer this for hours in your heavy soup pot.  Tonight we're eating it on the run - in shifts as we move through a busy evening.  So straight-up it is.  Dig in - this is a great meal on a cold night!


I had a few different chili powders with only a little left in
each container - so I combined to make the 1/2 c
2+ lbs ground meat, I used 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
6+ garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1/2 c chili powder
2 T cumin
1 t dried oregano
1 t kosher salt
1 t paprika, I used smoked
pinch of cayenne
2 large bay leaves
3 T english mustard (dry)
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 beer, I used Sam Adams

this recipe works for 2-3 lbs ground meat
1. Brown the meat in your fry pan - add evoo if your meat is low in fat.  Crumble and cook till no longer pink.  Drain and put into your crockpot (if using).

2. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes in 2 T of remaining fat from meat or add oil if needed.  I salt mine to help it sweat.

3.  Then add the pepper and garlic and saute until soft. Remove and add to the crock pot. (If you are cooking on the stove, add your mean back in at this time.)

4.  Add the beans, seasonings, tomatoes and beer.  Put crock pot on low and let simmer all day.  Your house will smell delicious!

5.  Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.  You can serve our chili 'straight-up', meaning no spaghetti or rice.  Toppings we favor: avocado, grated cheddar, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, fritos.  Tasty!

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