Friday, November 11, 2011

Grass Fed Beef Crock Pot Chipotle Chili (and Bacon Wrapped Dogs)

Last week started getting a bit colder here on the westside of Los Angeles so I pulled out my winter clothing to prepare. I started wearing sweater tights and scarves with my dresses. Brrr! Not that we Angelenos can ever really complain about the weather; I know many east coast cities recently received a generous dumping of unexpected snow and rain, and many lost power and were probably shivering under their blankets for a few days. The only thing here that happens for the most part is we freak out and can't drive in the rain. I never can understand that - why do people seem to drive even crazier in the rain here? It's like an instant panic sets in and we become maniacs behind the wheel. My heart rate goes up just thinking about it. Road rage.

I digress.

Most people regardless of the time of year, associate food with comfort in some sort of way.  I am no different. I think this increases during holidays - we meet with family, share recipes,  eat too much and then lay around the house in a food coma.  Here in Los Angeles, the temperature has dropped just enough for me to start thinking about what comfort foods I want to make.  I wanted something hearty that sticks to your ribs.

Mmm... ribs. Okay, we'll save that for another post. I could never be a vegetarian.

My boyfriend was asking for chili, and hey, that sounded good to me. Normally I like to make the kind of chili my family is used to - the chunky style with large pieces of bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and maybe some chuck meat that falls apart when you touch it with your spoon. I guess that is somewhat Texas style, which makes sense since many of my relatives are from Texas. But my boyfriend who is mid western, is a fan of your simple, standard chili made with ground beef, tomatoes and beans. As he would say, kinda like the chili at Tommy's Burgers - if you can even call that chili! What is that stuff, anyways?  If you've been to a Tommy's burger joint you know what I'm talking about. "Like that, but a bit healthier," I said. And I decided to meet in the middle and add some kick to it with some jalapenos and chipotle chile pepper. I add heat to whatever I can since I'm a spicy food junkie.

Since I work during the day like most people, I decided to pull out the trusty crock pot that has been sitting in my cupboard for a while now. I hadn't used it until recently to slow-cook a pot roast, and that turned out so lip-smackingly wonderful I decided I needed to take advantage of this convenient, time-saving best friend and make more meals this way. And for the ingredients, you ask? I always prefer using grass fed organic beef. I like buying cuts of beef (ground beef for this recipe) at the farmers market, but if you are in a jam, Trader Joe's sells grass-fed. I don't like the fact that most is from Uruguay or Australia, though. Not a slow food movement going on here! Then add some organic chili beans, a can of diced organic tomatoes, onions and spices, set the crock pot to cook on a low setting, and -Viola! Delicious hearty chili to add onto a grass fed hot dog, or in a bowl topped with cheese, sour cream cilantro and red onion.

Speaking of hot dogs, did you know Applegate Farms has organic, grass-fed, uncured hot dogs? I've seen them at Trader Joes, Whole Foods and the local coop stores here in Santa Monica and West LA. Could it get any better? I would say YES. Yes it can - if you wrap em up and fry them with some uncured apple smoked bacon and top with what else - chili!! Hallelujah. (Can you tell I'm a carnivore?) Since I eat gluten free and basically grain and dairy free, I do not feel that guilty. And hey - there are veggies in and on top of my chili - I'll have a salad tomorrow, okay? Get off my back!

Without further adieu, here is my hearty, stick to your ribs, organic grass-fed chili recipe. Serve with or without dogs.

1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef - 85/15 is a good fat ratio

(2) 14 ounce cans of chili beans, whatever you fancy

(1) 24 ounce can diced organic tomatoes (maybe some with green chilies might be good)

2 cloves garlic

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

2-3 tablespoons chili powder (ancho or chipotle chili powder gives it a good spin)

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 tablespoon paprika

Peanut butter - optional, but a few tablespoons give it a thicker, heartier dimension

Lime, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, red onion for garnish

I recommend browning the onion and bell pepper in a separate pan first to give it a caramelized depth of flavor, but your chili will still turn out fabulous if you want to throw it all in the crock pot before you rush out the door in the morning.

Set at a low level and come home to the delicious smell of dinner waiting for you.

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