When does chili stop being ‘chili’?
If I were to scramble eggs in butter in a fry pan and call it ‘chili’, you’d question my use of the word.
“That’s not chili! That’s eggs, you idiot!” Or something to that effect.
So is what follows, ‘chili’? Beats me. You be the judge.
Anyway, after 2 pots of the stuff, each one less adherent to what the word ‘chili’ traditionally means, I decided to push the envelope even further. Up the veggies again and bring way down the meat.
The reason to bring down the meat was that I was using very expensive ground beef that comes from a local ‘beyond organic’ farm nearby. $8.99/lb for ground beef is pretty expensive – except when you compare it to the ground beef you get at the grocery store. At this place, you can ‘meet your meat’, so to speak. As you drive in, you drive by the cows who end up in their freezer – and you know that you are supporting just having a local farm like this just 20 minutes away – and that there’s less of a chance of some of the abuses that can occur with ground beef from traditional sources.
I don’t want to get into that right now – that’s a post for another day – but the beef for this recipe was 1-1/4 lb. – a pound less than before.
I also decided up the onions and pump up the zucchini – 2 lbs of onions, and 7 zukes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lbs. yellow onions quartered (7 or 8 of ’em)
- 2 large eggplant, with skin on, diced
- 7 medium zucchini, diced
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (forgot the chilies and due to the volume, I thought I could get away with it)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-1/4 pounds ground beef
- 1 (28 ounce) can peeled tomatoes
In a large pot, drizzle olive oil over the sides and bottom. I browned the beef in the pot with a little salt while I cut up the veggies. I got smart this time and cut the onions up and threw them in the pot before going on to the next veggie. The problem in the last batch was stirring the entire pile of veggies at the same time. This allowed the onions to soften and give up some room for the next ingredient.
This worked quite well, actually. Maybe I just cut slow. But the result was that the pot was more amenable to stirring this time round.
With only one last eggplant to go, I put in the tomatoes, the spices and stirred. Then I threw in the last of the eggplant, which just fit. Thank God I softened the first vegetables earlier.
Again, worried that there was not enough liquid, I put in 2/3 cup of chicken broth, which was totally unnecessary, as I keep forgetting that while these vegetables seem dry, they aren’t – locked up in their cell walls is a LOT of water. There is no need that I found to add extra liquid.
After stirring in the last of the eggplant, I let it cook for an hour on high, then simmer for another 1-1/2 hours.
It came out great – but perhaps a bit ‘light’ in the meat department for the Atkins dieter used to slabs of beef.
If I feel deprived of fat, I can always sprinkle on some shredded cheese, but it’s not necessary.
I have been successful in getting more veggies down the gullet these past weeks, so I’d say these chili experiments have been quite the success.
If after another giant pot of chili, I can stand to look at the stuff ever again in my life, then I will consider this a ‘hit-it-out-of-the-park-home-run’ success.