Kitchen Experiment: Kale & Eggplant Beef Chili

I didn’t hold out high hopes for this one.

You might ask: if that’s the case, why did you do it?’

Just the way I roll, I suppose. I can look a kitchen experiment in the eye and take that chance that what I make might be so bad that, after the time and money spent, it all gets put down the garbage disposal.

Call me a culinary daredevil.

A big part of it might have been the obsession with not wasting food – my parents grew up in the Depression, and their stories of going hungry – and of being late to the table and there being nothing for them to eat until the next day – stuck with me.

Given the current state of affairs in the world today, perhaps remembering these stories is a good thing.

Anywho, Saturday morning presented me with the usual task of trying to come up with something or somethings that I could prepare and eat at least part way through the coming week. It’s tough to cook during the week, and I often get lazy and eat things like deli meat and Spam when stuck between not eating and a plate of pasta the kid didn’t finish.

I did an inventory of our cupboard and found a packet of taco seasoning and 2 cans of green chilies.

So whatever it would be – it will be Mexican.

Next up, I scoured the fridge. 2 aging eggplants forgotten and 2 bunches of kale the wife bought but then abandoned.

Hmmm…sounds like an experiment to me.

  • 2 bunches kale
  • 2 aged mediums-sized eggplants
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 4 onions
  • 4 giant cloves of garlic
  • 1 packet Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

As I’ve mentioned before, I like kale, but only if I’ve reduced it’s kaleness by making chips out of it, or blending it into a green mush as part of a soup. The chips, while good – even awesome – mean tossing the stems, which violates that Depression-era sense of food waste being a sin. So I went the mush route.

I didn’t want a soup though – I wanted something far more substantial.

Into a soup pot went the kale, finely chopped, including the stems. From my kale soup experience, I know that the more chopping now would save work later on. On top of that went 2 onions, chopped in eights. Nothing fancy – they will get blended.

To this I added about a cup of chicken broth as I needed something to get this stuff softer. I let this cook for maybe 15 minutes then hit it with the immersion blender. And hit it again. And again.

I probably spent a good 10 minutes doing my best to turn this stuff into a goo – and succeeded into creating something resembling chopped spinach. I turned the heat off on this one – I was done here.

Next was the – ahem – chili. I say ‘ahem’ because some people have accused me of heresy by calling stuff like this ‘chili’. I don’t want to offend anyone.

In a large skillet, I browned the meat with the garlic in a little bit of olive oil, then threw in the diced eggplant. No, I don’t peel it, nor do I wash it in salt water, put cans on a colander full of the stuff to weigh it down and wait for whatever evil resides within to come out, then wash them again – why???

but I digress. Anyway, next went in the taco mix, then 2 more onions, then the 2 cans of green chilies. Some more oil went on top of all this and I gave it a good stir to mix it all up.

I let this cook for maybe another 20 minutes.

The result was that I was left with 2 pots – one with the – ahem – chili and the other with the kale mush.

In my serving bowl, I mixed them together – maybe 60% kale mush, and 40% – ahem – chili – and put a little salt since there was none except for what was in the taco packet and the broth.

My my – this was WAY better than I expected! The kale went together with the faux-taco-mix-eggplant chili quite nicely. It was gone in a jiffy.

The wife had some of the ‘chili’ and noted that ‘something was missing’ – the salt, most likely. Other family members took the kale mush and had it with rice – because of this, I figured I’ll leave the 2 pots separate so that people can eat what they want to eat. The faux chili would probably go nice with rice as well – if you have non-low carb folks living with you like I do.

I also see potential for the kale mush in the future. It’s a blank slate of a sort. I can see myself mixing it with other stuff.

Not rice, though.

Of course, experimentation aside, and flavor aside, it’s an awfully nutritious and healthy bunch of ingredients, and the carbs contained int it are the type low carbers should be eating.


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