Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beginning of the Winter Blues

Oh, Chicago, why are you so cold and pummeling us with rain, sleet, snow and ice?! It's all just too much, especially when it happens all within a 24-hour period! To beat the blues over the weekend, Steve and I teamed up for some good old fashioned comfort food.

He threw a whole lot of things into a pot, let it simmer for a couple of hours, and voila! We had chili. And really good chili to boot. I'm not usually a big chili fan (I have faint memories of being "forced" to eat it as a child, but that's not an uncommon experience for such a picky eater), but it really enjoyed what Steve made. It was warm, hearty and just a little bit spicy.

To excentuate the spice of his chili, I decided to make a jalapeno cheddar cornbread. I just love cornbread - the texture, it's ability to be sweet or spicy or even a little of both. Since I decided to pull this together last minute, I had to really work with what I had in the kitchen. With no creamed corn, buttermilk or sour cream at hand, my choice of recipes was limited.

I kept on coming back to Ina Garten's recipe - practically a million hits when you search for "jalapeno cheddar cornbread." I fought this recipe for as long as possible. As great as the Barefoot Contessa might be, she does love her butter! The recipe called for 2 sticks which seemed so excessive...but then I saw the quantity - enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan. Split it in half, and it was the perfect amount to fill my 9-inch round cake pan and with only 1 stick of butter! And...worth EVERY buttery bite! This is, hands down, the best cornbread I've ever had.

One-Pot Chili
Recipe by Steve

Part 1:
1T extra virgin olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, seeded and minced

Place these ingredients in your pot under very low heat for 5-10 minutes. If the onions start browning, then your heat is too high.

Part 2:
Next, add the following to your pot. The dark chocolate helps give a richness to the chili and counters whatever acidity may be in your tomatoes. The beer helps adds juiciness and a meaty flavor to your protein, which you'll add later. Bring the broth to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3 cups chicken stock
2 28oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
6 T chili powder
1 T brown sugar
1 T cumin
2 oz dark chocolate (60%)
8 oz of a dark beer of your choice
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Part 3:
1.5 pounds of protein of your choice (ground beef, ground turkey, ground bison, venison, etc)
4 15oz cans of beans of your choice (kidney, pinto, or black)
1 T chili powder

Next, brown 1.5 pounds of the protein of your choice. We used 93% lean ground turkey this time, but you can also use lean ground beef, sirloin, bison, venison, or any combination of proteins.Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add the browned protein, along with the beans, the additional chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Let this mixture simmer on low heat for approximately 1 hour.

After this 1 hour, let the chili sit for approximately 7-10 minutes to cool slightly and thicken. Enjoy!

Ina Garten's Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Recipe from Food Network

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix!
Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note: I cut the recipe in half to fill a 9-inch round cake pan and also eliminated the scallions because I didn't have any in the kitchen.


Joy the Baker said...

my gracious heaven! this looks like some pretty serious comfort food. it looks like i know what i'll be making this weekend! stay warm!

Kristina said...

I made this last night, and there must be some bizarre chemical process when baking the cornbread that laces it with crack. That, or it's all the butter. Either way, the chili and the cornbread together were ridiculously tasty. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

this chili is incredibly good - they had a bar of Chuao Spicy Maya 60% at the grocery and it was the perfect addition!!!

Thanks for warming us up on this cold Sunday!!