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Chili Con Carne

The cowboys of the Old West knew just what they were doing when they concocted chili. Nothing satisfies on a chilly winter night like this spicy one-dish meal.

I am what you may consider a chili “purist”… a simple yet spicy Chili Con Carne being my favorite.  The heat in my recipe comes from chili powder.  But I also add cumin and oregano to give the flavor more depth. 

I don’t normally add beans to mine, but if you like beans in your chili, no problem. Just add a drained can (15-ounce) of red kidney beans. 

This simple, old West dish is also an ideal dinner party option.  Chili is easy to make (the cowboys did it over a simple campfire), can be made ahead of time, and even freezes well.

Set out colorful bowls, encourage guests to serve themselves straight from the pot and then garnish their chili with their favorite toppings from your “chili bar.”  Sour cream, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, minced onion, shredded cheese, diced mild green chilies, and hot sauce all make great garnishes to any bowl of chili.  Plus your guests will have a ball concocting their own signature dish.

Enjoy!

Chili Con Carne

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 dash paprika
1 bay leaf
1 can (15-ounce) whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water

In a large stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes to the pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the tomato paste, sugar, and water to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage Jambalaya

Serves 6 to 8

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Andouille sausage, diced
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups white rice
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot.  Sauté the chicken, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and then, in the same pot, sauté the sausage until browned.   Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken.  Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.

To the pot, add the onion, bell pepper and celery and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. (Stir often so that everything cooks evenly.) Add the garlic, oregano, thyme and bay leaves and sauté until the mixture is cooked down, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the vegetable mixture is cooking, combine the tomato sauce and chicken stock in a separate pot and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and sauté for about 3 minutes. Return the meats to the pot and stir to combine.  Continuously stirring to combine, slowly pour the tomato and stock mixture into the jambalaya.  Stir in the chopped parsley.

Bring the jambalaya to a boil, cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and fold in the shrimp.  Let everything continue to cook in the hot covered pot for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve warm. 

Cooking Tip: Andouille sausage is a smoked, spicy pork sausage that is popular in Cajun recipes such as gumbo and jambalaya.  If you can’t easily find it in you local grocery, Chorizo is an acceptable substitute.


Jennifer Chandler

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