The Lexingtonienne

October4th

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Chili Time

Posted in: Recipes

Happy beginning of the week! Did you try those pumpkin chocolate chip cakies over the weekend? Highly recommend.

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Anyway, how’s the weather where you live today?

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In spite of LA’s historic record high of 113 last Monday, by Sunday it was overcast and hovering at a frigid 65. In other words, time for Los Angelenos to put on their faux fur-trimmed jackets and Ugg boots with their miniskirts. (Hey, it’s all relative.)

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I have lived in LA for 8 years and know not to miss my opportunities. It’s October, football season is underway, and the thermostat took a (most likely temporary) plunge.

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That means I had a small window of opportunity for making CHILI.

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I have three chili recipes that I love, all of which will definitely get some air time on The Lexingtonienne this fall. I’ll lead the chili pack today with the basic tomato-y chili recipe.

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Remember that chili is sooooo loosey-goosey. You really can’t mess it up, even if you make it a different way every single time. So I recommend using this “recipe” as a guideline and doing whatever makes you chili-happy.

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Just make sure you eat it all up before the temperature goes back to the 80s. :)

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DEEELICIOUS, SUPER-EASY CHILI
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cloves garlic, left whole but slightly crushed
2 pounds lean ground beef
6 tsp ground cumin, divided
6 tsp chili powder, divided
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 cans chili beans, undrained
1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 large can diced or whole peeled tomatoes
Pinch of red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Set some of the chopped onion aside for a chili topping for serving.

In a large, heavy pot, saute the rest of the onions over medium-high heat until softened. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes more.

Turn heat to high, add ground beef and cook until browned. (If you are using fattier ground beef — more than 10% fat — you will want to drain off the fat after the meat is browned. But with something very lean, you should be fine.) Add 2 tsp each cumin and chili powder. Add tomato paste and mix in thoroughly, cooking for a few minutes. Add chili beans and 2 more tsp each cumin and chili powder. Stir in crushed tomatoes and diced or whole peeled tomatoes. (If you’re using whole, you’ll want to smash the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Taste for seasoning. Add 2 more tsp (or more) each cumin and chili powder, if desired. Salt & pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes or hot sauce if desired.

Simmer over low heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for an hour or longer. Fish out the 2 whole cloves of garlic before serving.

As variations, you could:
– add chopped green bell pepper, pasilla pepper, or jalapeno when you saute the onion.
– add a half cup (or more, if no one’s looking) Maker’s Mark after browning the beef
– throw in a tiny pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ground cloves at any point if desired (although that does start to encroach on Cincinnati-style chili territory, which we will venture into in another post).
– You may also want to keep some small cans of tomato juice on hand, in case you think your chili needs more liquid (although I like mine to be pretty thick).

Serve with an assortment of toppings, such as:
– shredded cheddar or jack cheese
– sour cream
– chopped onions
– chopped green onions
– jarred jalapeno slices
– dark chocolate chips

And you may want to offer any of the following on the side:
– soup crackers
– tortilla chips (Doritos, although proletarian, are really, really good with chili)
– cornbread
– garlic bread

Remember that chili is even better the next day. It also freezes extremely well!

Enjoy your week,
Hannah

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