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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Warm Up To A Bowl Of Chili

By Sherrie Norris

It’s that time again when a number of organizations host their annual Chili Cook-off competitions, and cooks for miles around are preparing their favorite recipes. I recall, several years ago, participating in the Winterfest event in Blowing Rock and was astounded that there could be so many types of chili. I always thought chili was simply a pot of beans, ground beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes and seasonings. It was surprising to me just how many variations there were! I was also amazed at some of the ingredients that had been thrown into the pots – including chocolate! I was told that chocolate helps decrease the acidity of tomatoes, which proves that an old dog can learn new tricks!

Few winter dishes compare to what a good bowl of homemade chili can do to warm you from the inside out. Young and old alike everywhere easily get “fired up” about this zesty classic that originates from the original Mexican dish known as Chili Con Carne, consisting of minced red peppers and meat. Through the years, cooks have learned other ways to enhance the taste and “stretch it out” by adding beans, as well as other interesting ingredients like mentioned above. What does it take to make a perfect bowl of chili? It all depends on who you ask. When meat is in the mix, beef takes the lead, but chicken and pork have become favorites, too. Some folks add tomatoes for color, some insist on the tint and taste of chili powder, while others leave it to the imagination and count on whatever comes out of the pantry.

We have just finished our first pot full of chili the new year, with leftovers spread lightly over tortilla chips, sprinkled with shredded cheese, placed in the microwave for a couple of minutes and garnished with salsa and sour cream. Yummy!

If you have yet to discover your favorite chili recipe, hopefully this week’s suggestions will help in your quest.


Simple, Homestyle Chili For The Busy Cook

1 lb. ground beef

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 cans pinto/and or kidney beans

2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 to 4 Tbs. chili powder

2 cups water

Combine beef, onion and garlic in large saucepan. Cool until beef is brown, stirring to crumble. Drain; add remaining ingredients. Simmer 45 minutes to an hour. Makes about 6 cups.


Chicken Chili With Black Beans

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

2 med. sweet peppers, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbs. olive oil

1 sm. can chopped chilies

2 Tbs. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can tomatoes with liquid, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

In large pot, sauté chicken, red peppers, onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink; add green chilies, chili powder, cumin and coriander; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring often. Makes about 10 servings.


Quick Chili Ole

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 lbs. ground beef

1 (15 ½ ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14 ½ ounce) can stewed tomatoes

¾ cup A-1 Steak Sauce

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 (16 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (11 ounce) can corn, drained

Shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped tomato for garnish

In large pot, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Brown beef. Drain; stir in tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, steak sauce and spices. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally. Stir in beans and corn; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Makes about 8 servings.