Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rain Storms and Chili

It’s been cold and wet for the last two weeks. A perfect time for a pot of chili. Normally I use ground beef, but this time I decided to use chunks of beef. I got a thick top round piece at my local butcher shop and cut it into 1 inch chunks. I really liked the cubes of meat in the chili – much better than ground meat or even that special “chili grind” some grocery stores have. My homemade chili is definitely NOT traditional. For years & years now I’ve loaded it up with beans, corn, and hominy and thickened it with masa. Between the corn, hominy, & masa, it’s very corny! I know I could omit the meat altogether for a vegetarian chili and still have a hearty meal. For the most part, I make it with canned beans. I’ve found several good low sodium canned bean products readily available at all my local grocery stores. I also include at least two or three Anaheim or poblano peppers purchased from summer farmers markets. I roast and peel them and then freeze them. However, if I run out of my home-processed peppers, I’ll use a small can of chopped green chiles that I've rinsed. I usually serve the chili with a sprinkling of cheese, chopped raw onions & a dollop of sour cream. With some homemade corn bread, it’s a perfect winter meal.

Chili with Beef Chunks

1½ lb. beef (top round, round steak, chuck, etc.) cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
3 cups NSA beef broth (homemade, dry granules, soup base paste concentrate, canned, etc.)
1 can (14 oz.) NSA diced tomatoes
1 tsp. ground cumin (Add more or less to suit individual tastes)
1 tbsp. no-salt chili powder blend (Add more or less to suit individual tastes)
3 cans (15 oz.) low sodium beans, well rinsed (I usually use a can each of red kidney, pinto, & black beans)*
2 cups frozen no-salt corn
1 can (14 oz.) white or yellow hominy, well rinsed
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chiles, rinsed (Add more or less to suit individual tastes)
¼ cup masa harina combined with ½ cup water or broth

Brown the meat in two or three batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan or else the meat will steam and not brown. Set the meat aside, and in the same pan sauté the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Once the onions are soft, return the meat to the pan and add the equivalent of 3 cups of NSA beef broth. Add one 14 oz. can of NSA diced tomatoes along with the cumin & salt-free chili powder.
Bring the meat mixture to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer. After 30 minutes, check meat for tenderness. If the meat is just about tender, begin adding the remaining ingredients: beans, corn, hominy, and chopped chili peppers. Add more water or broth if necessary. Let mixture simmer for an additional 30 minutes before testing the meat again. If meat is tender, slowly dribble in the masa harina mixture and continue simmering for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly. Check seasonings and add more chili powder or cumin if desired. Serve immediately or let it sit overnight for all the flavors to meld. Freezes well.

*Cooked dried beans are wonderful. Use an equivalent amount and then freeze the leftovers for another meal.


thedailydish said...

Boy that looks GOOD! I've never made chili with chunks of beef, hominy or masa before. I will definitely have to try this -- thanks so much for sharing!!

thedailydish said...

PS: This post couldn't have come at a better time, either! There's been much 'bean talk' at our house lately.. my older daughter has been considering a vegetarian diet and her dad and I have been pushing the value of beans. Methinks I will be posting about beans soon too!!

shambo said...

I always thought cutting up cubes of beef for chili or soup or whatever would be too much trouble. But I was really impressed with this particular batch of chili. In fact today we had some leftover garbanzo bean soup for lunch that had ground beef in it. Both my husband & I commented on how we thought it could be improved by using beef chunks instead.

Christy, I have no idea why I started including hominy and using masa as a thickener. I've used masa for thickening Mexican style chicken soup too. It adds that subtle corn tortilla flavor that seems to go so well with Mexican inspired dishes.