Cold weather means warm food tastes better.
Now, I realize that having to put on a light jacket for the evening dog walk does not qualify as "cold weather" to most of you, but here is Southern California the temperature is about to dip, making me verrrrryyyy uncomfortable.
I am sorry to say goodbye to summer. You might even call me "in denial" as I sit here today in all white from head to toe...white dress...white shoes...breaking all the "after labor day rules." This past summer was really nice. We somehow were spared the June Gloom (or overcast gray skies) which usually lasts about 5 weeks during the early part of the summer. We were also spared the long intense heat waves in late July/early August (not that we didn't get hit with some heat, but it is usually unbearable for a couple weeks) - global warming taking a break this year?.
Nothing welcomes the fall like a piping hot bowl of meaty chili. I am still in love with the chili I made for one of my very first posts, but I thought this one from my Food Network Magazine looked interesting. It is a Texas Chili which I take to mean "no beans." I certainly like beans in my chili, but this all-meat version sounded like a delicious alternative as well (especially considering I still had about 2 pounds of a beef tenderloin left over from the night before). Just a fair warning: this is spicy! It is slightly sweet as well, and the presence of the two conflicting tastes was a welcome surprise. You can scale back the heat a little bit if you prefer by adding less chopped green chilies or leaving out the green hot sauce...that sort of thing.
Now, this is chili two ways (as promised): Texas Chili and then Chili Corn Casserole. My magazine suggested making a delicious casserole with the leftover chili to mix everything up a bit. I have to say, it was a complete success. It made me feel like I got the most out of the chunk of meat I bought (even though you do NOT have to use the usually expensive beef tenderloin when making the chili...the slow cooker will make cheap beef taste like a million bucks!).
(recipe from Food Network Magazine)
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 cup chili powder
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 to 2 tablespoons green hot sauce
Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and/or sour cream, for topping
Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
Corn tortillas (optional)
Toss the beef with 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not crowd the pan). Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, cumin and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the tomatoes and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low, 7 hours.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the hot sauce to the chili. Serve with scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream for topping, and chips, if desired. Another idea is to serve it in a corn tortilla bowl: simply place a corn tortilla in the serving bowl before spooning in the chili. (Reserve 3 to 4 cups for Chili-Corn Casserole.).
*NOTE FROM ME: This is completely optional, but I really prefer refrigerating and reheating before eating it. I am not sure why, but I always think it tastes better when it has been completely cooled and then reheated the day after!
Chili Corn Casserole
(recipe from Food Network Magazine - serves 4)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ears corn, kernels cut off
6 scallions, chopped
3 to 4 cups leftover chili
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or monterey jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 18-ounce tube precooked polenta, cut into 12 rounds
(Use leftover Slow-Cooker Texas Chili.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the scallions and cook until soft, about 1 minute.
Spread the chili in an 8-inch-square baking dish. Top with half of the cheese followed by half of the corn mixture. Lay the polenta rounds on top, then sprinkle with the remaining corn and cheese.
Bake until the casserole is heated through and the top is golden, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.