I wish that I had done this a week ago, in time for the Super Bowl. Chili just seems like one of those football party foods. But I ordered a pizza instead.
Chili is one of those comfort foods that embraces our soul and warms us up from the inside. It’s one of those things, like meatloaf, where everybody has their own tradition for preparing it. For some, it can be particularly comforting for those who are away from home and don’t have any family around, as it reminds us of memories cooking in the kitchen with loved ones or having a family party.
That can be essential for some who live in the Castle Greyskull barracks. We’re considered an OCUNUS (outside the contiguous United States) duty station, so most of us don’t have family around. It can even be difficult for us married folk, who miss our families on the mainland. So imagine living in the barracks without a means to see your family unless you take a bunch of leave and pay upwards of $1000 for a round trip to the mainland. Comfort foods won’t bring your family to you, but it might make you feel a little better.
This iteration may not be like your family recipe, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. This chili isn’t overly spicy, but you can change that by adding a little cayenne. This recipe uses dried chipotle peppers, which are smokier but not as spicy as the canned. Substituting canned chipotles are another way of increasing the hotness.
Chili is sometimes regarded as an unhealthy food, with all the fat from the meat and cooking oil used for browning and a heavy amount of carbohydrates from the beans. In this recipe, however, I trimmed as much fat from the chuck meat as I could, and added no extra oil since this is a crock pot meal. I also didn’t add a whole lot of beans, using the dry equivalent to half a can. You can change that if you like, and even substitute a can of beans instead of using dry. You may have to adjust the amount of liquid, however.
This is a one pot wonder for the slow cooker. Seriously just throw most of the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning, and you’ll have a meal ready for you when you get home. One thing to remember, however, is to not salt the chili until it is completely done if you are using dry beans. If you remember from my black beans mole, salt toughens the bean and inhibits water absorption, ensuring that your bean won’t cook all the way. So, just salt the chili pot when it’s all done, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation a little sodium chloride can do.
Chili is pretty simple, but I think I made it even easier. Once again, it’s a perfect barracks food for those of you with slow cookers. It’s truly a complete meal, with healthy amounts of protein from the meat and beans, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables. There’s even some whole grain in there. Yes, corn is a grain, not a vegetable. It’s so easy to chop up all of your ingredients the night before, put it in the fridge, and then throw it all together before you head to the motor pool. Or the tree 😉
Unlike my barracks dwelling battle buddies, I have an oven. So I made a quick corn bread, because I felt it was necessary. I didn’t have any corn meal, though, but I did have masa harina, which is a type of corn flour specifically for making tortillas. I found this recipe to make a masa corn bread, and it was sufficient. Not my favorite, but good enough to get by. If you try that recipe, I would increase the sugar and add a little extra milk to it to make the batter more fluid, which would help it rise a little more.