Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chili. Chicago Chili. Chili Cheese Fries. Tamale Pie. Chili.

I'm still working on the pork, trying to make the most of everything I have-- trying to make this wonderful meat last as long as I can. While the weather shows signs of spring, there is still a nip in the air, and I was inspired to make a big pot of something. This weekend I made chili. My 'leftover' meals will include Chicago Chili (really just chili over pasta) with salad and garlic bread, Chili Cheese Fries  with fresh green beans and Tamale Pie served with a big Caesar salad. But first for the chili.
Basic Chili
2 ounces bacon or ham fat (I used what I trimmed off the roast, and had frozen)
1 onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 poblano chili pepper
2 fat cloves garlic
6 ounces ground pork
1 32-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can niblet corn or 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 can red kidney beans or 2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces dark beer
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
1. Dice the bacon or fat and place in a cold, deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium and let cook slowly until the fat renders out.
2. Meanwhile, peel and dice the onion, trim the celery, carrots, poblano and garlic and dice. Add to the fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to become transparent. Make sure not to brown the vegetables, or they'll bring a bitterness to the dish. If that starts to happen, lower the heat.
3. Crumble the pork and add to the pot. Cook, stirring, until it is no longer pink.
4. Add the tomato sauce. Drain the corn if using canned corn, and drain and rinse the kidney beans if using canned. Add to the pot with all the seasonings. Bring to a simmer.
5. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, checking every half hour. If it is getting too thick, and water (up to 1 cup) and stir before covering and returning to the oven.
6. Remove from oven and add the beer. Stir and cook on the stove, at a low simmer, for 30 minutes. 
7. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
8. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, chopped scallions and sour cream

Chicago Chili: Serve over cooked pasta (spaghetti, linguini, fettucini) with lots of grated cheese
Chili Cheese Fries: Make potato fries, either baked or fried (I 'oven fry' mine, tossing cut potatoes in a small amount of oil and baking at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick you cut your 'fries'). Heat your chili and have grated cheddar cheese ready. Place 1/2 portion of fries on a plate or in a bowl. Add 1/2 a portion of chili and some cheese, repeat with remaining potatoes, chili and cheese. 
Tamale Pie: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make a batch of cornbread batter (recipe below). Heat three to four cups of chili and pour into an 8" pan. Pour the cornbread batter over all. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cornbread Topping
 3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Lightly beat the egg into the milk and oil and add to the dry ingredients. Carefully pour over the chili, spreading to the corners. Place in oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until cornbread is brown and chili is bubbling underneath.