Monday, February 27, 2012

A Month of Soups: 3-Meat Chili

Long time ago, earlier this month, I promised the tale of my creation of this soup. It may well have been the catalyst for the love story I live every day. I think this story is that powerful.

When I first met DH (who, of course, wasn’t DH yet), we were both far from home working on graduate degrees at the University of Georgia. He yearned for southwest food. Taco Bell was the best Mexican food in town, and no offense meant to Taco Bell, but that wasn’t the Sonoran desert food he was accustomed to.

I offered to fix him some chili. I knew chili. I had grown up with it. So I brought the ingredients to his bigger kitchen and set to work. I browned the hamburger and onions which I added to the tomato juice and chili powder. I plopped in a can of kidney beans. Voila! (or whatever the Spanish equivalent is).

I proudly dished it up, not processing until later the looks he was casting at his bowl. “What’s this?”

What was he doing in a graduate program? How stupid could he be? Maybe I didn’t want to meld gene pools with him after all.

“It’s chili,” I explained as if he had a mental problem.

He took a small spoonful. “Well, it’s not awful, but it’s not chili.”

We kind of got into an “Is, too!”-“Is not!” argument. “Well, that’s the chili I grew up with. What would you call it?”

“Maybe chili soup. Chili is thick and doesn’t have hamburger OR chili powder in it.”

“So teach me how to make it,” I tossed out. This is the man whose freezer had Jolly Green Giant entrees in it.

“I don’t know how to make it, but I’ll know it when I eat it.”

So back to the store the two of us went. I tried again and again to figure out a recipe he’d love.

Did you know fresh chilis will burn the skin off your fingers if you don’t wear gloves or are extremely cautious? Well, neither did I--the first time! Need I mention to keep said fingers far from eyeballs?

What follows is the final recipe I created that I have made for decades. On another note, I love to take my roasted Hatch chilis from the freezer for this recipe, but I have been known to use a couple of cans of chilis instead. Enjoy!

Three-Meat Chili (serves 8-10)

12 oz. steak, cut into chunks

12 oz. chicken, boneless, cut into chunks

3 T olive oil

2 T flour

1 kielbasa, cut in bite-size chunks

1 large onion, diced

1 large can V-8 juice

1 cinnamon stick

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can Mexicorn

1 can pinto beans

1 can kidney beans

1 medium Hatch chili, roasted, and cut into chunks (or 2 cans chilies)

1 T sharp cheddar cheese, grated per person

Toss chicken and steak chunks with flour. Brown on all sides in Dutch oven. Push to one side. Add kielbasa and onion. Cook until kielbasa is browned and onions are translucent. Then mix it all back together in the pan and cover. Let cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

Add a bit of the V-8 juice to deglaze the pan. Keep scrapings in the pan and add the rest of the V-8 juice and the cinnamon stick. Stir to mix well. Add meats and onion back to the Dutch oven. Stir well. Add tomatoes, corn, and beans, and chilies.

Simmer for one hour. Allow to cool down then refrigerate overnight. Next day, remove the cinnamon stick. Reheat and serve with grated cheese on top and cornbread with honey butter. We love this with a big hunk of cheese and grapes and apples.

DH’s Rating: 10 Tongues Up! He’s losing it. I’m glad this month is almost over. He’s not taking it seriously anymore. Then again, he really, really does love this chili.

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