Yes, this is going to be as delicious a post as the title suggests…
I think we all have those foods that, as a kid, we pooh-poohed without giving them a chance. For my husband, it was eggplant. For me, tuna, chicken salad, and chili. The dislike for chili came from being served it so often that I just couldn’t appreciate it. Now, my family served up chili with a big scoop of cottage cheese in the middle and sometimes macaroni noodles, but otherwise the flavor was pretty standard fare… except that we were always eating tomatoes my father had canned. I realize now (older, wiser, blah blah blah) that garden fresh tomatoes can really make the best chili. And so do fresh peppers and fresh onions, if you’ve got them on hand. I was pretty pleased that all I had to buy for this recipe was the meat!
My husband, on the other hand, could eat chili every day. Every. Day. He has told me so on multiple occasions. He, too, had a lot of chili as a kid, some of it in the cafeteria at his elementary school where chili was served up with a big cinnamon roll (crazy Nebraskans!) I thought it was a strange combination until I tried it, too. The sweetness of the cinnamon echoed the chili powder and cumin in an oddly satisfying way.
But I’m not about to crank out cinnamon rolls. Instead, I scoured the internet for a cinnamon cornbread recipe. I didn’t find one that I really liked, so I decided to invent a bit, with delicious results. I ended up crumbling the cornbread in the chili, like a soft crouton, and it was phenomenal. So, for your eating pleasure: two recipes.
Fresh Garden Tomato Chili (adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner)
3/4 Lb. lean ground beef1/2 Lb. ground pork or ground turkey2 green bell pepper, finely chopped1/3 c. finely chopped onion1 garlic clove, minced*10 med-large tomatoes, peeled, and roughly chopped2 Tbsp. chili powder, or to taste2 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste1 tsp. oregano, or to tastesalt and pepper1 can black beans, drained and rinsed1 can chili beans, undrained
For serving:sour cream (or cottage cheese)
shredded Cheddar cheesechopped green onions
Brown ground beef and ground pork or turkey in a large pot over medium heat. A few minutes before it is completely cooked through, add the chopped bell peppers and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 30 more seconds. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. I like to simmer mine for at least 2 hours for better flavor. The longer it simmers the more the liquid will evaporate. If you like more liquid, then simmer with the lid on. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Garnish with toppings, and serve with cornbread! Serves: 4.
*For the tomatoes: Boil in hot water for 2 minutes and use a paring knife to remove the peel. Cut in half horizontally and remove the seeds, if desired. I left mine in for a chili with more liquid. Remove the stem with paring knife, or with a strawberry huller if you have one handy. Roughly chop tomatoes; they will break down during the cooking process, so no need to be precise here. Cinnamon Apple Cornbread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the butter in a cast iron skillet and heat the skillet in the oven while you make the batter.In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.In a medium bowl, add the applesauce, milk, and honey. Mix well.
Let cool in pan for five minutes before tipping onto a cooling rack to rest for at least ten more.