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Monday, November 29, 2010

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

This week, instead of choosing recipes first, I scanned the circular for the local supermarket to see what was on sale. After getting an idea of what meats and main staples were available, I chose dishes from this information. What's funny is that I didn't save a dime. Well, for the time being anyway. One of the items I bought was a 3+ pound chuck roast. With it, I was able to nearly double this recipe for Beef and Pinto Bean Chili. We ate it for dinner last night, sent some with my husband for lunch today, and froze the rest. I also have another pound and a half of meat to make another recipe. So hopefully, in the long run, I've created some kind of grocery savings.

This chili recipe comes from the January/February 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

A note on spiciness: You can make this chili as spicy as you wish. For a spicy chili, use the 1/4 cup of minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large) with the seeds. Sour cream will help to create a cooling effect. My husband and toddler don't enjoy spicy foods, so I chose to use one jalapeño with the seeds scraped out, allowing the chili to have the jalapeño flavor without the heat. Remember: the more peppers with seeds you use, the hotter the chili.

Cooking spray
1 pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 tsp salt, divided
2 tbsp canola oil
4 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large)
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12-oz) bottle beer
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups fat-free, less sodium beef broth
1 (28-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 tbsp small cilantro leaves
6 tbsp sour cream
6 lime wedges

1. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 tsp of salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions and jalapeño; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth, tomatoes, beans and meat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp of salt.

2. Garnish one cup of chili per bowl by equally dividing radish and avocado. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of cilantro and 1 tablespoon of sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.

The Verdict: If you'd have asked me if I'd ever made chili before dinner last night, I'd have answered "of course." If you ask me now if I've ever made chili before, the answer is not before yesterday. This is chili. This makes me finally understand the rationale behind things like chili cook-offs.

The tlc you put into this chili raises it up to an almost beef Burgundy or coq au vin status. It takes work to create it. And like those famous French stews, this chili is created with many simple ingredients, in many simple steps. This kitchen dance creates layers of complex flavor.

Not surprisingly, the entire family enjoyed it.

This is not a throw-together after work chili. You'd probably want to make it on a weekend. And like good stews, I'm going to guess that if you made it Sunday afternoon for Monday or Tuesday's dinner, it would be even better as the flavors have even more time to mingle.

Love it. Good stuff.

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