Realistically, I think that I can cook 2-3 times a week. So in an effort not to spend anymore money until my next paycheck, I decided to kick-off the cooking with chili. One can cook chili in bulk, and because of the heavy chili base, it is easy to make it Cajun style. I also decided to bake some cornbread to pair with the chili and to even out a bit of the bite with some sweetness.
Bake the cornbread.
About a year ago, I had a hankering for cornbread, and I looked up a recipe for Sylvia’s cornbread. I’ve never had Sylvia’s cornbread, but the restaurant is renowned as one of the best soul food joints in Harlem. I used this recipe, which always plays to great reviews. The result:
While the cornbread bakes, start the prep for the chili.
Start off with the ‘trinity’ of Cajun cooking:
- 2 stocks of celery
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 medium sized onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big pot and turn the heat on high. Saute the mix for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Add 1-1.5 lbs. of ground meat (I used turkey for the healthy look). Throw in 1.5 tablespoons of Creole seasoning to season the meat. If you like your chili spicy like I do, add a few more dashes of cayenne pepper to the chili.
After the meat is browned, put the heat on medium and add:
- five small diced tomatoes
- 28oz of canned tomatoes (with the juices)
- sliced mushrooms
- 2 cans of kidney beans (drain and rinse)
- 1 can of black beans (drain and rinse)
- 1 cup of chicken broth (leftover from making jambalaya over the weekend)
A lot of the recipes that I found online said that this chili only takes 30 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, it was soupy, and the flavor wasn’t quite there. More than anything it was a vegetable soup that had a bland taste in the beginning and a subtle, building spice at the back end.
To combat the lack of flavor, I added:
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder (which I forgot to season the meat with)
I turned the heat down low and let the chili simmer for 4 hours, while I went to rugby practice. By the time I came back the chili had thickened (the top needs to be off during the cook time to let the excess liquids burn off). Pour it into a bowl, top it off with cheese, cilantro, and cornbread and voila:
(Yes, i know my camera sucks, but I don’t see any upgrade in the near future. Maybe djjewelz can do a cameo sometime)
The chili turned out to be thick with great flavor throughout the meal, and the cornbread complemented the chili as planned.
I had some left over barbecued hamburgers and at Peter’s suggestion, decided to make a chili locomoco. Rice topped with cilantro, cheese, chili, and tabasco sauce (the rice cuts the heat, so I had to bring it back up). Stack the hamburger patty on top of this goodness with a slice of chedder, and let a fried egg sit on top (runny yolk adds to the flavor).
The charbroiled flavor of the burger lended itself nicely to the flavor of the chili, and this dish was surprisingly really good. Chili locomoco – you heard it here first!