Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chili for a (small) crowd

There are few meals that say "comfort food" to me like chili and rice. I love chili, be it vegetarian, meat chili with beans, or meat chili with not much other than meat; and I particularly love it spooned over (and then mixed up with) a bowl of basmati rice. I almost always have some on hand in the freezer for evenings when I'm too tired or busy to cook, and usually I have both vegetarian black bean chili and a decidedly non-vegetarian chili based on the "Chili for a crowd" recipe from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook. It's the latter, or my version of it, that I'm posting here.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. diced yellow onions
3/4 lb. bulk Italian sausage--mild or hot, depending on your preference
2 lb. ground beef (I like Central Market's "chili beef," which is a very coarse grind about 1/2" in diameter)
4-5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 x 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 oz. ground cumin
1 oz. chili powder
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
24 oz. canned diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. dry red wine
1 x 15 oz. can black beans
1 x 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 1/2 tbsp. salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, and cook the onions over medium heat until they are tender and translucent. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook over medium-high heat until browned, breaking up large chunks and stirring often. Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, basil, salt, mustard, and tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, and wine, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and simmer longer if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. This chili freezes well, so make a big batch and stick most of it in the freezer for later.

Makes 8 - 10 servings.