My wonderful hubby contributes in all sorts of meaningful ways in the home but cooking is not regularly one of them. I blame this largely on me as I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to the use of MY kitchen (the capitalized possessive intended).
Weeknight dinner time in our home is always rushed and needs to come together in 20 minutes or takeout, the local pub/diner/bistro starts to look like a far more attractive alternative given the effort. We keep a pretty lean fridge but I’m pretty adept in fashioning a well-balanced and wholesome meal without the use of a cookbook and with the ingredients we have in the pantry/fridge/freezer. That was the attitude towards cooking in my household growing up. By my memory, weeknight dinners were fast, fresh, unfussy and on the table in less time than an episode of Family Matters. This is how I learned to cook.
While not a frequent cook, my hubby does have his specialties and they fall squarely into two silos:
1) SUMMER = BBQ
2) WINTER = BRAISES
Absent a grill, hot weather and some beer, I guess a 10-pound Creuset Pot and low and slow cooking is the closest substitute to ‘man’-cooking for him. In his repertoire of winter braises is a Texas-style chili he discovered in the FOOD & DRINK magazine published by the LCBO . There is a tradition in our home of hubby making this chili for our annual Superbowl party. As a bean-less chili, I would liken it more to a hearty stew and it can be easily served on rice, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, sour cream and grated cheddar. In fact, depending on your spice tolerance, rice may be a useful base to balance the heat from the pepper in adobo sauce.
We don’t just reserve this dish for Superbowl parties though. In our hibernating months, this chili makes several welcomed weekend appearances (so long as I am willing to help him dice the onions and garlic).
Pairing: We paired this dish with Whiplash LODI, 2012 Zinfandel. It’s a big wine on it’s own and has a bit of sweetness which balances the smoky spice of the chili very nicely.
- 3 lbs well-trimmed stewing beef
- Salt and pepper
- 1-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chili powder
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 shot of espresso
- 1 to 2 Tbsp canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (start with 1 Tbsp)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp cornmeal
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped scallions
- Sour cream
- Grated cheddar cheese
- White rice can be served as an accompaniment
Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper and mix well. In a large Creuset pot, dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high and brown beef in batches. Remove to a large place and reserve. Add more oil only if necessary. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat in the pot.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook onions until softened. Combine all dry ingredients and sprinkle over onions. Cook stirring for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add broth, espresso, chipotle pepper and sugar to pot and bring to a boil. Use this time to scrape down the sides and the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Return the browned beef and all the accumulated juices back to the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Braise, stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until beef is very tender.
With a potato masher, mash the beef chunks to break them up a little. This will give the dish a rustic look and thicken the sauce slightly. Sprinkle cornmeal over surface of chili and stir in. Bring the heat back up to medium. Once at a gentle simmer, the cornmeal will help to thicken the chili. Add more cornmeal if you prefer a thicker chili but be careful as a little goes a long way. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve with or without rice and let your guests top it up with the garnishes.
Serves 6 hungry people.
The addition of espresso is our own preference. It is certainly not required but like the cocoa powder, the coffee gives another layer of flavor. It’s subtle but we love it! The chipotle chilies in adobo sauce could be tough to find. Look for it in the ethic foods section of a large grocery store.