I ended up having a much different weekend than I expected (”did I get it did I get it did I get it” stress aside.)
My furnace just… stopped on Friday. Didn’t explode. No fancy symptoms. It just started getting cold. Of course I didn’t notice it until I returned home for the evening, when it was far too late to be screwing around in the basement (too much.)
I pulled out the electric heater, went to bed and thought nothing of it ’til Saturday when I decided I’d tackle it. I’m in a position where I need to fix it if at all possible. So I spent sporadic blocks of the day winging it, while heating the livingroom with the electric and eating reheated chili.
Now that DID go as planned. Well… erm… I suppose technically it didn’t. But it came out pretty good. I realized as I made it that while I have a standard recipe I “use”, “using” it really just entails staring at the open page in the cookbook while I do whatever the hell I’m going to do anyway. Then I wonder why I have no consistency. There were a couple things I forgot to buy at the stupid market, so here’s how it actually went:
4 pounds of ground beef (I use whatever I’ve got at hand, usually 80 or 85% lean.)
2 large white onions
2 cans of diced tomatoes.
1 small can of tomato sauce (one of those little Contadina 6oz jobbies is fine.)
1 green pepper (blergh.)
1 can EACH of pinto, black and refried beans
1 cup of flour
12oz (or so, bias up) jar of hot salsa (cheaty McCheaterson)
A tablespoon (or two ish) each of:
- chili powder
Lots and lots of minced garlic (Probably about 4 tablespoons of it.)
1) heat up a skillet pretty hot and put a couple tablespoons of oil in there (might be entirely unnecessary. Putting oil in a heating skillet is a reflex at this point.)
2) dump the ground beef in a bowl with the flour. Break it up and toss it around ’til it’s covered. Don’t bother getting all crazy with it. (I like my chili to be a gloppy mess. It’s somewhere between dip, soup and chili in consistency. The flour (along with the refried beans) gives it that thick texture.
3) Brown the beef (covered with flour) in the skillet, then toss it in the crock pot.
4) chop up the onions and pepper pretty fine (if you’re like me and don’t like large chunks of vegetable matter, then you can sweat the chopped onions a bit in the still hot frying pan.)
5) throw everything in the crock pot and turn it on low. (I can’t imagine a universe where sequence will make a lick of sense.)
6) Wait 6-7 hours. I actually tend to start this before bed and deal with it in the morning.
It might seem like a lot of spices. But I make this in a 7 quart crock pot, and I cook it on low for a LONG time. That process tends to wick out a lot of spice flavor. (It occurs to me as I type that that perhaps adding spices in for the final hour might not be so bad an idea.)
It was better than usual by far. A couple spices could’ve been amped up (or, as I theorized, perhaps added towards the end of things.) Next time I may mince up a couple chipotle peppers and drop them in there. Last time I did two cans, not realizing they were BIG cans and almost destroyed the batch. (But, thanks to Scott I learned that the heat in question was alkaline and therefore, a little lemon juice would really pull it back, which it did. Also ended up adding an interesting flavor on top of it all.
What I forgot:
Beer. Adding a 16oz guinness stout to this thing makes a world of wonderful difference.
My chili won’t win any awards. I’m just not that motivated by it. There is a lot of room for improvement, and I’ll be tweaking it forever, but at this point it fully satisfies the need for something thick, hot and yummy, so I may just let myself get lazy about the whole thing.
So after being sick of looking at it on Saturday, I went to bed and called my next door neighbor in the morning (he’s an HVAC guy, so that makes sense.) After two days of my screwing around fruitlessly with the damn thing, he came in, checked out a few things, then showed me the OTHER other reset button.
Yeah. Two days without heat in sub freezing weather, ice in the kitchen and it was a reset button. He then proceeded to give me the “dude, I’m not trying to scare you, but this thing is almost 40 years old. It’s amazing that it’s still running.” lecture which frankly I appreciated.