My Own Bang-Up Chili with Sweet Cornbread Muffins

Monday, January 25, 2010

Everyone has their own version of chili, right? Throw some sort of meat in with some beans, spice it up...and voila. Chili. I realize there are also strict definitions of what are and are not "actual" chili recipes, so some might just call this "meat and beans"...but the basis for this recipe usually starts with a Beef and Bean Chili from my South Beach Cookbook, so you know its healthy. And then I often improvise with several types of canned beans. This time it was soooo good, that I wrote down exactly what I used. I even retrieved all the cans to get it right.

Here's what I used:

2 lbs 80/20 ground beef (leaner is great, too)
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can black beans
1 can mild pinto chili beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can light kidney beans (dark is fine, too)
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp olive oil

Here's what I did:

In an enamel dutch oven (or a medium stock pot) heat olive oil on medium heat, and add onions, cooking until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add ground beef and let brown, until no pink remains. Add cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.

Meanwhile, rinse all canned beans/corn in a strainer, and let drain.

Once meat is fully cooked, add all canned ingredients, including canned tomatoes with juice. Allow chili to simmer for 10-15 minutes to incorporate and thicken. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste. If you like it spicier, you can add more cayenne - but I wanted this to be safe for Sydney, so I kept it a touch milder.

I like how the corn and black beans add color to the chili mixture. Once everything is combined, its nice to have some ingredients that "stand out in the crowd" and the pop of the corn is a nice unexpected sweetness that I don't usually add - but was glad that I did.

I served this with a small handful of mexican cheese mix (cheddar, jack, asadero and quesadilla cheeses) and a dollop of sour cream.

I accompanied my chili with corn bread muffins, recipe below...

Sweet Cornbread Muffins

Here's what I used:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup 2 % milk

Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combined all dry ingredients, and then stirred with a whisk to remove any lumps and incorporate all ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, combined egg, oil and milk and mixed thoroughly. Add wet ingredients to large bowl with dry ingredients and quickly mix to incorporate, but do not overmix.

Meanwhile, I added cupcake liners to a cupcake pan and sprayed the inside of each cup with pam. I have found if I don't do this, I lose a good 1/4 of each muffin to the inside of the paper liners.

Using a measuring cup, I poured the batter into each liner, about 1/2 full, and was able to make 1 dozen nice sized muffins.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until just lightly golden brown on top. You can also test the muffins using a toothpick or wooden skewer. If the skewer comes out of the muffin clean, your muffins are done!

Sydney went nuts over this dinner. I haven't seen her this eager to eat in weeks...maybe longer. She kept on eating long after Nick and I were done. However, I should have draped her entire body with a table cloth...because Chili remnants were EVERYWHERE. Haha. The girl enjoyed her meal!


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