Chili Tonight. Hot Tamale.

19 Jan

I know I spend too much time in front of the television.  I know I spend too much time in front of the television watching cooking shows.  I know that when it comes to the kitchen, I don’t know how to share.  Spending so many years living by myself, or with SFC overseas, I’ve come to regard the kitchen as mine, Mine, MINE.

But you know what?  There are couples who enjoy working together in the kitchen.  And they make it look effortless.  Don’t believe me?  Then just watch one episode of Down Home with the Neelys.  Pat and Gina Neely are the subject of a running discussion with some friends.  Their show has a subtext that has nothing to do with food.  It’s about cooking all right, just not in a kitchen.  Which I guess, makes sense. Cooking for someone is a very intimate expression of caring.  So I can see how two people might be able to express their desires for each other while making a meal together.  From the looks of things, it gets hot in their kitchen!

SFC and I are making baby steps in kitchen coexistence.  He picks and prepares one meal a week.  I try and guide him towards recipes with a degree of difficulty that will not overwhelm a novice cook.  But even those can be fraught with unexpected obstacles.  Like when a lemon got run over a box grater when the recipe called for it to be zested.  I’m just now starting to find that amusing.  I try to be supportive, honest, but he’s got to find his own way.

Some of these meals do end up being collaborative efforts. During our most recent joint venture in the kitchen,  Quick Chili, we channeled our inner Neelys.  And you know what?  It worked. I was less stressed about all the little things…what do you mean you want to dice an onion with a steak knife?  And I think that made SFC more comfortable having me next to him.

Maybe the secret is to shift the focus from making the food to making it fun.  We may not be the finely tuned duo that Pat and Gina Neely are but we can definitely learn a thing or two from them.  Now if I could only figure out how they make cleaning up as interesting as cooking.  Oh right, they probably have production people who take care of that.  Guess I’m out of luck on that one.

This recipe has nothing to do with luck.  Even the most novice of cooks should ace this one…just don’t try and dice your onion with a steak knife.

Quick Chili

Adapted from South Beach Supercharged

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans bean of your choice, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add beef, cayenne, and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder.  Cook, stirring to break up meat, about 5 minutes, or until browned.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl.

Add onion, oregano, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to the saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and cook until it starts to brown, then add diced tomatoes and their juices, beans, and tomato sauce.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover, add cooked beef, and cook over medium heat until chili thickens, about 5 minutes.

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