My sister, Karen, came through town last week and for one of the meals I made chili. As I had not planned to make a third meal for her it was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. While everyone else went for a hike, I whipped up a quick chili.
In the freezer, I had half a pound of ground beef and half a pound of ground pork. If I combined them I would have enough for the meal. While I had one large can of pinto beans it would not be enough for 5 people. A fast run to the Chavez market, and I had all I needed to make the chili.
When you make a quick chili the broth can come out a bit watery—the beans simply do not have the time to break down and thicken the stew. While you can mash some of the beans against the side of the pot, I realized that realized that adding a can of refried beans—which has most of its beans already mashed—would thicken my stew very nicely. This trick produces a really thick and creamy pot of bean.
Depending on how many people you are feeding—or how much leftovers you would like to have after the meal—you may use one or two large cans of pinto beans—or the case of this meal, a big can and a small can. Cook’s Illustrated has identified Goya as the best brand of canned beans. They also discovered that a good can of beans could be better than dried beans, because they are processed fresh in the fields, instead of laying around in storage for an unknown length of time.
Note: While my sister was here, I forgot to take any pictures of my chili. Jan, of course, did not have any problem with this—I would simply have to make it again this week.
Karl’s Quick Beef and Pork Chili
½ lb. ground beef (80%)
½ lb. ground pork
½ Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. baking soda mixed with 1 Tbs. water.
1 Poblano pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 Roma tomatoes
1 Tbs. corn oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ cup cilantro stems, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 can ( 29 oz) Goya pinto beans (or more, see note below, step 19)
1 can (16 oz.) la Victoria refried beans
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the beef, pork, soy sauce, salt, and baking soda and mix thoroughly.
Tip: The Worcestershire sauce is a non-traditional ingredient, but it boosts the umami flavor.
Note: The trick of adding a bit of baking soda—which changes the Ph—allows the meat to stay more tender and moist as you fry it. Do not let the mix marinate too long after adding the baking soda or the meat may turn mushy.
2. Let the meat marinate for 15 minutes.
3. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Tip: Many cooks roast the peppers whole and then struggle to deseed them while they are hot. I prefer to deseed them while they are cold and then roast them. It also saves energy because you are roasting both sides at the same time.
4. Cut the tomatoes in half.
Note: I de-seed my tomatoes—as I have diverticula—this is unnecessary if you do not have this problem.
5. Put the peppers and tomatoes in a small lipped baking sheet.
Note: Skin side up.
6. Broil the vegetables two inches from the heating element for 10-15 minutes, until the skings are bubbling up and well charred.
7. Put the peppers in a plastic bag and let them cool.
Tip: the steam from the cooling peppers loosens the skin and makes them easier to remove.
8. Pinch off the tomato skins, dice them, and set them aside.
9. Remove the skins from the peppers, dice them and set them aside.
10. Form the meat into one large patty.
Tip: The meat should form a disk half of an inch thick and 6-7 inches in diameter.
11. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and brown the meat patty well on both sides.
Tip: I usually use corn oil for Mexican dishes, but you may use any oil that you prefer.
Note: This is an America’s Test Kitchen trick. If you break up the meat and brown it in bits you will end up with hard, overcooked, meat rocks, before you get the good, flavorful browning that will make the dish taste more “meaty.” By frying the meat in one big patty you get the dark browned flavor of the Maillard reaction on the outside, but the meat in the center of the patty stays tender and moist.
12. Transfer the patty to a plate and spoon out all but two tablespoons of the grease from the pot.
Tip: Grease is flavor, however, due to Jan’s dietary restrictions I need to remove as much as possible. Use your own judgment.
Note: Reserve this grease, in case you need some of it later for the garlic.
13. When the patty has cooled off enough, break it into small bite sized pieces.
14. Sauté the onions with the salt until they are starting to pick up some color, about 5-7 minutes.
Tip: The salt speeds up the release of the moisture from the onions and helps them brown more quickly.
15. Add the cilantro stems and continue sautéing for another 3-4 minutes.
16. Pull the onions to the sides of the pot and sauté the garlic to the hole in the center until fragrant, about one minute.
Tip: If the pot seems too dry, you may wish to add a half tablespoon of oil/grease to the garlic.
17. Add the tomato paste and spices to the garlic and sauté the mixture for 1-2 minutes, until the spices are very fragrant and the tomato paste has started to brown.
18. Add the chopped tomatoes and peppers, with any released liquid, and stir to mix the ingredients in the pot well.
Tip: Use the liquid to de-glaze the pot.
19. Stir in the pinto beans, with their liquid.
Tip: This is a place where you can manipulate the size of your chili. If you are making a small pot—for a few people—you may use only one 29 oz. can of pinto beans. If you are feeding more you may add an additional can (15.5 oz. or another 29 oz).
Note: You may add half a cup of water to rinse out the can(s). The only liquid in this recipe is the packing liquid from the various can(s). Canned vegetables are packed with some of the water that they were processed in and it contains some of their flavor and nutrients. Don’t waste these by draining the can liquor down the sink.
20. Simmer the beans for 10 minutes to meld the flavors and then add the beef and refried beans to the pot.
21. Continue simmering the chili for 10-15 minutes, to meld the flavors.
22. Serve and enjoy.
Note: While I like my chili strait from the pot, others like to add things to spice it up. You may provide bottles of your diners’ favorite hot sauce, or bowls of diced fresh onion, fresh chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, tortillas and/or tortilla chips on the side.