New Years Eve dinner this year was chili and cornbread. Yum! It's a personal favourite of mine. There is something about that hot and spicy chili and the slightly sweet cornbread that is a perfect combination. I do not make chili very often so even though it is a very simple meal, it has become a real treat. At least it is for me. It could be a wee bit problematic for anyone living in my household who doesn't feel the same way about it however because I don't seem to know how to make a small amount of chili. Nope, it is only produced by the vat.
I guess if you like chili as much as I do, it's not an issue. But if you only feel so so about it, or flat out dislike it, well then you are going to be hungry for awhile because if I make a vat of chili, then we by god eat a vat of chili! Fortunately chili is so very versatile.
No, seriously, it is! I know that when it comes to versatile foods, chicken is probably up at the top of the list. And that is only fair because it's true. There are probably more chicken recipes in existence than any other kinds. But for a one-pot wonder, chili has to be at least in the top five. Any time I make chili, which is never more than once or twice a year, it probably feeds us for a week!
The first night it's just chili in all it's glory, usually with cornbread on the side, maybe shredded cheese on top and if you are very lucky a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions. Yummy in the tummy. The next night's dinner might be chili dogs. A very fun (and easy) meal that harkens back to childhood. Subsequent meals could be baked potato topped with chili (trust me, it is amazing, wonderful and very very filling), chili presenting itself as a "taco" salad with tostitos on the bottom and green salad on the top (I suppose technically that would be chili salad but nobody would know what you are talking about) and eventually it would be finished as chili mac which is probably it's absolute finest presentation. And if after all that there is still chili left, it absolutely can be frozen and used another time.
I'm hungry again just thinking about it. Now I know that there are at least as many ways of making chili as there are fish in the sea. But of course, I prefer mine. And I also know that, strictly speaking, what I make isn't really Chili because real chili doesn't have beans in it. As I am NOT Sheldon Cooper, I don't care about the actual chili definition. I like beans and therefore there are beans in my chili and I'm still calling it chili.
In fact, I usually put a minimum of three different kinds of beans in it! Wow! Protein overload! Usually a pinto bean, a black bean and then one of the kidney beans. But I've been known to use garbanzo beans and/or white beans in it other times just because that's what was in my pantry. I am a fan of beans. Yes yes, of course, it all starts with ground beef that is seasoned and browned in a pan with finely diced onions and garlic. I use lots of different kinds of seasonings too. I don't make my chili super spicy hot because then I wouldn't be able to eat it but anyone at my table is certainly invited to add as much hot sauce to their individual dishes as they like. Still, I do want a lot of flavour. Loads of flavour. Layers of flavour which comes from seasonings. There are a few basic seasonings that absolutely must be in there like, pepper and garlic and chili powder and then I wander through the pantry and the spice cabinet opening things and taking a whiff to decide if it would be a good addition or not. Quite often the answer is a hearty Yes!
I also like vegetables in my chili. You may be outraged at that. I don't care. We like it that way. If you don't want veggies in your chili, then you probably shouldn't put them in your chili. I, however, will continue to put them in mine. I'm not talking about anything totally weird like brussel sprouts here. That would be truly odd. I mean vegetables such as various sorts and colours of peppers and onions and then also corn. Corn is great in chili. Unexpected maybe, but excellent. I have experimented with the addition of other vegetables and while they were fine, they weren't fabulous and there is no point in adding anything that isn't.
I start my chili earlier in the day, at the very latest toward the middle of the afternoon. Chili needs that extra time to simmer, to percolate it's flavours so to speak. It bubbles merrily away on the stove top until dinner and by then we've been smelling it for hours. By the time dinner rolls around we are more than ready to chow down!
Look at that. The last time I made chili was one week ago today and I'm already nostalgic about it. BUT I won't make it again for at least a few months, maybe longer. To be truly appreciated it has to be eaten on a cooler temperature day so it's absolutely not a summer meal and we have more summer or summerish days here than anything else. As with most things, timing is key.
So enough rhapsodizing about Chili :) We have now experienced 2022 for one entire week. How's it looking so far?
Have a good weekend! Hugs all 'round
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.