Sunday, November 21, 2010

Diner-Style Chili & Beer Biscuits

On a chilly evening, what could be more welcome than a nice, hot bowl of chili?

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that my mom, my sister & I lived with my grandparents the year I was three. I recall my mom making chili throughout my childhood, even in the heat of the Philippines! When we lived in Port Orchard, Mom would occasionally make dinner so Gramma could have a break, and chili was often on the menu on those days. We always had Premium Saltines with our chili.

Unfortunately, I've never been able to duplicate my mom's recipe for chili, which was pretty straightforward, no-frills, American diner-style chili, that was more soupy than stewy. Of course, it's been so many years since she cooked she doesn't remember how to make it.

In May of 1988, I had the rare opportunity to visit Port Orchard. I was living in Wisconsin at the time, and we drove from there to Gramma's house. Sadly, we lost both my dad and Grampa in February of 1987. By then, Gramma was in her eighties. and my Aunt Helen and her three daughters, Nina, Anna, and Amanda, now lived in the little green house with Gramma and took care of her. I was thrilled when Aunt Helen made, guess what! My mom's chili! for dinner one evening, complete with saltine crackers on the side. For whatever reason, I didn't manage to get the recipe.

Recently, I tried Coleen's Turkey and Black Bean Chili and discovered that the flavor is very similar to Mom's chili. Coleen's chili is thicker, but it's just so delicious! If you want a really yummy, easy to fix, no-fuss chili that is not too spicy for kids, Coleen's chili definitely fills the bill.

I especially LOVE Coleen's unique way of serving the chili, which reminds me of the Frito Pie so beloved in the Ozarks. We used to take DS to the Springfield, MO Zoo just to pig out on cardboard dishes of Frito pie.... Anyway, Coleen likes to eat her chili ladled over a bed of fresh greens and Fritos corn chips, topped with sliced grape tomatoes, chopped avocado, sour cream, and shredded cheese. This is HEAVEN-- even without the cheese and sour cream. It's a fun study in contrasts, a cool & hot, tangy & velvety, crunchy & chewy chili salad!

Below is my slight spin on Coleen's chili, which really goes back to basics. It is very quick to prep because all you have to do is chop an onion and some garlic and open a few cans. It does need a a couple of hours to simmer and mellow, but you can of course do other things while you're waiting. Instead of saltines, you may enjoy trying the beer biscuits below, which I find are absolutely perfect with chili (not that you need them if you serve the chili with Fritos, LOL!) A big plus is that this chili is actually a really good use for ground turkey (which in general I'm not crazy about)!

Diner-Style Chili Elsie
by DomesticMuse

2 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 T canola oil (more, as needed)
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 T chili powder
2 t ground cumin
5 c. water
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 T sugar
1 t. salt
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 4 oz. can green chiles, chopped

1. Spray a heavy soup pot with non-stick spray. Add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown well. Stir until most of the liquid thrown off by the meat has evaporated. If there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced onion. Saute, stirring, until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the spices have a chance to really soak into the meat and onion mixture.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
5. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours, or until chili is nice and thick. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

DS's plate:

When I met my friend Julia in grad school, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. Julia grew up in Peru, the birthplace of potatoes. She had me in stitches telling me about her first visit to Burger King in the U.S., where she requested a side of mayonnaise with her order. "What for?" the counter dweeb asked. "Why, for my fries, of course!!" Julia replied with offended hauteur, which quickly turned to mortification as she realized that ketchup is the preferred condiment for fries here.

I must confess to a penchant for mayo on my fries, too... but my absolute favorite thing to dip my fries into? Green Goddess dressing, no contest. I love the stuff. Since I am eating my chili sans cheese and sour cream, I was inspired to try a little GG on it. Oh, yeah-- total heaven in my bowl!! I LOVE IT!!

Here's my plate:


Here is a closer look at all the scrumptious goodies!

Bubba's Beer Biscuits are the easiest thing in the world to whip up, and are terrific with chili.
This is a completely unadulterated Paula Deen recipe. All I have done is cut it in half so it makes 6-8 biscuits instead of 12-16.

BTW, did any of y'all catch Kristen Wiig's Paula impersonation on SNL last week? I was cracking up as she was going on about all the "boo-ter" and "awl" in the food. Well, for sure don't leave out the boo-ter in the recipe below, or you will end up with brickettes instead of biscuits. NOT a good thing!

Bubba's Beer Biscuits by Paula Deen

2 c. Bisquick or other baking mix
1/4 c. sugar
1 T melted butter
6 fl. oz. beer (any kind will do)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Spoon it into the tins. Bake for 15-20 min.

These are not especially pretty, but are so easy and so good.

Buen provecho!

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