May 2, 2010

Experiment with Chili

It occurred to me as I was cleaning up from making this chili that it's been a very long time since I (or we) made a vat of either chili or pasta sauce - anything involving multiple cans of anything. We used to do this regularly, and always had either chili or pasta sauce or both in the freezer. I don't remember when that stopped. Or even the last time I made chili. But I did today, and this one took five cans of various things.

This started off as "Beef and Bean Chili", a recipe submitted by a fellow SparkPeople user, and involved cooking pinto beans from dry for a day before making the chili. I don't know what part of the world that user lives in, but at the grocery store I went to that week, I couldn't even find canned pinto beans, let alone dry ones. So, because the Beloved was with me, and hadn't entirely bought into the whole idea of pinto beans anyway, and was chivvying me along as he does when he's bored, I ended up with canned beans. These ones, in fact:

Romano beans were as close as I could find to pinto beans. Maybe they're the same thing; who knows? These looked like the Googled image of pinto beans on my phone. :)

The recipe called for chopped onion and garlic, ground beef, chili powder and two jalapeƱos, chopped parsley, a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, and salt to taste. Which didn't sound very interesting to me, honestly. So to this I added some chopped up mushrooms that needed eating, a yellow pepper ditto, a couple of stalks of celery sliced up, and about half a cup of chopped zucchini (which I like and I hope the Beloved doesn't even notice, because he could do with the veggies). And because of the added volume of stuff, I added a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, and a 14 oz can, and a little can of tomato paste for thickening. And I might have sloshed in a bit of red wine, just because it was sitting out. (What?) I also halved the quantity of both chili powder and jalapeƱo (which I chopped up, though the recipe didn't specify what to do with it), and it's still nice and spicy.

I started cooking it about two hours ago, and here's how it looks now, after simmering a little:

Oh, and that pot? That's my (okay, our) Le Creuset Oval French Oven, and it's possibly the best piece of cookware I've had, ever. Nothing sticks to than enamel inside. Yes it weighs a ton, but it's gorgeous and useful and easy to clean up, so it's pretty much win-win-win for me. Also, making chili? Really lets you practice your knife skills. And I need even more practice.

We're off out for dinner tonight, so this will be my dinner on Tuesday and Thursday, when I need something quick and satisfying after the gym. I'll serve it over rice, with sour cream and cheese to help cut the fire. At least, that's the plan.


  1. Pinto beans look kind of like that dry, but once they're cooked they're a uniform pinky brown color. My guess is you don't have much of a Hispanic population around; we have a huge Hispanic population, and we can even find dry pinto beans in our convenience stores just in case someone needs to make some refried beans from scratch while the grocery stores are closed.

    I love the pot! So pretty.

  2. We don't have a huge Hispanic population, no. Though there are more Hispanics (especially Mexicans) here every year. I'm sure there are dry pinto beans in our stores, really; I just have no idea where to begin looking for them.

    I'd love to see a grocery store with a tortilleria, like Spring has moved away from. Yum.

  3. I finally received my Le Creuset(Red) as a housewarming gift from dad when I moved into my current place. I had always wanted one, but didnt have the space to dedicate to it (It remains always out on the stove). Best pot ever!!

    Question though: Is it a Canadian thing to call it a French Oven? Over this way we refer to it as a Dutch Oven.

  4. It's not a Canadian thing, it's a Le Creuset thing. Mine clearly said "French Oven" on the tag, though it's the same as the Dutch Oven I grew up with.

  5. Wendy, you should be able to find pinto beans at any of the big grocery stores - dry or otherwise - take it from someone who has bought a ton of pinto beans in her life and lives in your neck of the woods. Be that as it may, I never put them in chili, unless they are the only type of bean I have and I need to make chili. Romano beans are similar, but bigger and meatier.

    If you need to buy dry pinto beans or other assorted beans, or spices and ingredients for any type of Mexican food, the best place for you to go is to Que Pasa. Just head up Steveston Highway to #5rd, turn right, and it's on the right a couple of blocks down the road. They make the best brand of tortilla chips there too.

  6. Thanks, Sofie! I knew there had to be pinto beans in grocery stores around here, but didn't have the first idea where to find the dried ones, when the canned ones didn't leap out at me. Turns out they're with the rice. ;)

    And Que Pasa! I haven't shopped there in ages, though I well remember that they have the best tortilla chips ever.