December 20, 2011

Beer 'n' Black Bean Chili

I've had a couple absolute dinner disasters lately, so you may have noticed my lack of posting. The hustle and bustle of the holidays makes for some hurried dinner-making and inevitable recipe fails. I try to take shortcuts and some work out, but some don't. I totally ruined a pork recipe from a trusted source last badly that my family couldn't barely choke it down. UGH! (I think I will try it again in a few months--when life is less hectic--and see if I can salvage the dish.) I almost suffered the same fate with this chili, to where I ended up not paying close enough attention to the instructions and rushing through it. Thankfully, this recipe was virtually goof-proof and this chili turned out to be pretty darn awesome. Whew! I think I'm gonna set a new rule in my house to only make dinners that I can pretty much just "phone in" during the holidays. The stress of trying (and failing) at something new is just not worth it. Hopefully, I will learn my lesson and remember this decree for next Christmas. In the meantime, here is the chili that restored my confidence in my cooking-off-the-cuff abilities...mistakes and all.

Beer 'n' Black Bean Chili
Adapted From: The Food and Flavors of San Antonio cookbook, by: Gloria Chadwick

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 lb. of beef stew meat (see notes)
1 large onion, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (see notes)
1 (4 oz.) can of green chiles (see notes)
1 can of tomato paste
1 cup of beer (see notes)
1 (15 oz.) can of beef broth (see notes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons of corn starch
tortilla chips, for topping
shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
sour cream, for topping

Heat oil in large pot, over medium-high heat. Add beef cubes and brown on all sides. Remove beef to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside to rest. If more oil is needed, add a little more (no more than a teaspoon or so). Add onions to pot stirring to incorporate all the beef drippings and oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook onions until they are soft and translucent. Push onions off to the side of the pot, and add tomato paste. Cook tomato paste until it starts to brown and caramelize on the bottom of the pot. Add beef broth, beer, green chiles, beans, all the spices, and meat back into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits of the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into the chili. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for half an hour. Remove some of the cooking liquid to a bowl (about a 1/2 cup) and whisk in the corn starch until liquid starts to thicken. Add thickened liquid back into the chili and stir to incorporate. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until chili is thickened to a desirable texture. Serve chili by placing in bowls and topping with some crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

I did not have two cans of black beans, so I substituted one can of kidney beans. Pinto beans would also work in a pinch; or use all black beans since the recipe is written as a "black bean chili". ;)

I only had one lb. of stew meat, so I cubed the meat into smaller pieces before browning. You could add another pound of stew meat if needed, but I didn't have it on hand so I stretched what I had stocked.

Also, I think our chili could have used more liquid. Adjust the liquid quantities based on the number of people you are serving. Next time, I'll probably use a full bottle of beer and a cup more of beef broth. We had enough to serve two adults and three kids, but the leftovers were scarce.

For the green chiles, I used some frozen Hatch chiles I roasted over the summer. My chiles were super-spicy so I cut the quantity way down for this application (probably by at least half). Follow the recipe quantity if you are using a mild green chile, but consider cutting it back if you are using a really spicy chile pepper.

The Result:
No photo, sorry. This was a delicious and satisfying chili. So different from my normal chili, and we all really loved the new twist. I love hearty stews and soups on a cold day, and this recipe totally hit the spot!

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