Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rootin' Beer Chili

Since I didn't grow up where chili was like a religion, I don't feel compelled to make my chili any particular way. This one is an homage to mom's chili (which, let's face it, was really close to being spaghetti sauce with beans) but with a couple of oddball additions.

Pretty sure this one doesn't mesh with ANYONE's traditional chili. But it's pretty darned good. It's a teeny bit sweet, but not terribly so. There's a little bit of heat from the seasonings, but it's not nearly what I'd call hot.

The sweetness in this chili is going to vary depending on the root beer you use. Some brands are less sweet and more peppery, while others are nearly syrupy, so keep that in mind. If you're scared, use less and make up the difference with water. Or use actual beer.

If you want a really spicy chili, you probably already have the means to make that happen. Feel free to add your favorite fire. And, as always, salt to taste.

Rootin' Beer Chili

1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, small dice
1 onion, medium dice
1 green pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 tablespoon salt (plus more, if desired)
2 tablespoons tomato powder (Savory Spice)
2 tablespoons Chili con Carne seasoning (Penzeys)
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
1 15-ounce can navy beans
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 8-ounce can root beer (or measure 1 cup from a regular can)
Chili powder or chile powder (yes, there is a difference) as desired. Or cayenne or your favorite hot pepper.

Begin browning the ground beef in your slow cooker (or a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on your stove.) When it's about half-done, add the garlic, onion, green pepper, salt, tomato powder, and chili con carne seasoning.

Continue cooking, stirring as needed, until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are starting to get tender.

Add the tomato powder, chili con carne seasoning, beans, and cornmeal. If you want your chili spicy, add your firepowder of choice. Stir to combine. Add the root beer and stir again.

Put the lid on the slow cooker, turn it to a low slow-cook, and let it cook for as long as you have time. And hour is good, four is better.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or more spice, as desired. Stir and let it cook another 10 minutes or so, if you've added more heat.

Serve hot.

Avocado chunks, lime wedges, and sour cream make a nice garnish. My mother would have served this with oyster crackers. I won't judge.