Lots of crunchy, sharp and creamy toppings turn a simple bowl of beef and chili into dinner in an instant. TNS
Several years ago, my partner and I spent a month in San Antonio, where his family lives. We were both unemployed at the time, so we spent the days driving around the city, exploring and eating all the wonderful food. We consumed a lot of chilli.
Beans and tomatoes — highly contentious ingredients to add to chilli in Texas — were found in several iterations we tried. After sampling so many, we decided that the ground beef version with beans — but with tomato paste and not canned tomatoes — was our favourite. It has been a staple of our quick weeknight dinners ever since.
EASY BEEF AND BEAN CHILLI
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: Serves 4
You can use this recipe for a simple chilli and then flavour it in different ways. Experiment with single ground chillies in place of the mixed chilli powder; ground coriander along with the cumin; or smoked paprika for smoky depth and an extra rich red colour. Whichever way you choose, keep it simple so the spices shine through. You can also use ground lamb, bison or turkey instead of beef, or vegan meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat. For chili cheese hot dogs, fries or nachos, use this chili and top with finely shredded cheddar cheese.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef or chicken stock (or water)
1 can (15 ounces) organic red kidney, pink or pinto beans, undrained
Shredded sharp cheddar or Colby jack cheese, sour cream, diced avocado or guacamole, diced red onion and thinly sliced scallions, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break it up, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, until the spices are toasted in the fat, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook, stirring, to cook off the raw flavor of the flour, about 1 minute. Pour in the beans, liquid and all, then pour the stock into the can of beans to help loosen any stuck beans and rinse the rest of the liquid out of the can; pour it into the pan. Stir everything to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season again with salt and pepper.
3. Serve the chili in bowls and top with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, avocado, red onion and scallions.
No-Bean Chili: Omit the beans and their liquid and double the beef for a total of 2 pounds.
Vegan Chili: Substitute 1 pound Beyond Meat for the ground beef and substitute vegetable stock, mushroom broth or water for the beef stock.
Seasoned Ground Beef for Tacos: Cook the recipe through Step 1, then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Use as a filling for tacos.
The chili will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Tribune News Service
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