Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beans? Oh the horror of it all.

O tempora! O mores! - Cicero
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The notion of putting beans in chili has been a sensitive topic as long as competitive cook-offs have been around. So this year the International Chili Society is saying: let's do both. For the first time, the International Chili Society will have traditional red chili and bean-optional chili categories at its 46th world championship event, which returns to West Virginia starting Friday.
I have always had beans in my chili. I am originally from New Jersey. And I like beans. This is like the no-grated-cheese-with-seafood-sauce controversy. That is, no controversy at all. I don't know about other Italians, but I always add grated cheese to any kind of pasta and/or pasta sauce. Everybody has a chili recipe. I am sure the purists will groan about mine.

Plum Street Chili

1 and 1/2 pounds of coarsely ground Beef Chuck
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of Garlic, chopped 
1 15 ounce can of diced Tomato (I prefer tomato sauce but my Jesse likes the tomato chunks) 
1 15 ounce can of Red Beans ( 2 cans if you like Beans)
1 whole Chipotle Pepper in adobo sauce, deseeded and chopped
Ground Cumin, one tablespoon or to taste
Your favorite ground Chili Powder, one tablespoon or to taste (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Cocoa powder or instant Expresso powder (optional)
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
One Bay Leaf (optional)

Warm the Olive Oil and saute the chopped Onion until transparent. Add the Garlic and then the Chipotle Pepper and saute for another minute. Go slow and just warm in the Oil. Essentially you are creating a flavor base.  Add the Cumin, Chili Powder, Cocoa or Coffee powder and Bay Leaf. 

You cannot get Chili grind Beef in Pennsylvania. I settle for a lean coarsely ground Round or Chuck. I saute the ground Beef in my wok so it browns quickly. I leave the meat in little chunks so the chili has texture. You do not want to mash the Beef.

Add the Beef to the flavor base, saute a minute or two longer. Then add the Tomatoes and the Beans. Simmer the chili until it is reduced and thick as you like it.  Chipotle Peppers add a lovely hot and smoky flavor to Chili. Serves 5-6. 

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