Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mug of Chili

There's a chill in the air, and by chill, I mean the temperature was -29C. OK, so I exaggerate, the actual temperature was -18C, but there was a windchill of -29C. I like to use the extremes. It makes me feel good that I have survived the deep freeze of winter. Back home, in Australia, we can't even imagine a temperature like this exists, let alone live in it.
My brother is planning a visit in March, so I sent him an email with the news of how cold it was, just to scare him. I can't wait to see his response.
In honour of this absolutely freezing day, I made chili in my slow cooker. One of my New Years resolutions was to use my slow cooker more, and while browsing the bookstore, I came across a magazine-book* called Slow Cooker Revolution by  America's Test Kitchen (who I love and trust because everything always works). I also think that slow cooking does need a revolution. Perhaps the reason I haven't made much in my slow cookers is because of horrible first time results.
I have toned down their recipe for Three-Alarm Beef Chili, it's way too spicy for me. Here is my version, based on theirs.

Chilly Day Chili
Makes a lot more than the 4 serves they say, maybe serves 6-8.

2 slices light rye bread
2 tablespoons milk
1 pound lean ground beef
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
1 teaspoon chili sambal (just crushed chili and salt from Chinatown or Loblaws)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chili (you can add more if you like it hotter)

Mash bread and milk into paste in large bowl using fork. Mix in ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper using hands.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, chili sambal, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.
Stir in beef mixture and cook, breaking up any large pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
Stir diced tomatoes with juice, beans, soy sauce, sugar and chipotle chili into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high.
Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Break up any remaining large pieces of beef with spoon. Season with salt, hot sauce and additional chipotles to taste, and serve.


*What do you call those cookbooks in the magazine rack? Who knows? Do I even need another cookbook? Probably not, but I do like looking at all the pictures and dreaming of the things I could do.

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