Courtesy of http://www.CaliforniaGoldRub.com
The last Thursday of each February is celebrated as National Chili Day. Actually most of us are happy to enjoy a hot bowl of Chili any day of the year. The nice thing about Chili is that no two are ever the same. The only rule seems to be that the stew contains some form of fresh Chili Pepper or Chili Powder as a seasoning. From there, the door is wide open to add your special touch. Beans or no Beans? Beef, Chicken, Turkey or Vegetarian? Serve it on Rice, Macaroni or Spaghetti? The options are endless.
That is where you pantry comes into play. The nice thing about Homemade Chili is that you can use any fresh leftovers or pantry staples you have around. The fact that they are already in your Kitchen is a good sign that they are food you like. Of course, you can always pick up any missing ingredients from the store. Rather than limiting this post to one narrow recipe. We would like to offer some variations for you to try. If you use HEROIC! or POWER Rubs, you can add a big blast of flavor without having to reach for 11-15 additional ingredients. Try it, you’ll see.
STOCK– The stock is the single most important element to the dish. Some like it as a thick sauce, while others prefer it light and liquid as a soup. It is all a matter of taste. Before adding any other ingredients, you want to start with a flavorful broth. Here are some ideas to get you there:
-Stock: Chicken, Beef or Vegetarian Broth from can or carton. Just add water to dry, frozen of jar Bouillon.
-Pan Starters: Before adding liquid, some of the best recipes start with browning meat, then removing it. Or saute chopped Onions, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Jalapenos, Carrots, Celery, Ancho Chiles or anything else you’d like from the Pantry.
-Seasonings: Use Commercial Chili Seasoning Mix or make your own using desired levels of dry Chili Powder, Cumin, Garlic, Cayenne, Thyme, Oregano and Smoked Paprika. CGBR Rubs bring these spices and more. Salt, Sugar and Pepper to taste. The most important thing is Taste your Broth.
-Thickeners: Arrowroot or Corn Starch are best added at the end to achieve the desired thickness of your Sauce. It is good to add Tomato Sauce or Tomato Paste to your broth at the beginning so it takes on the seasonings and helps flavor the broth.
MEATS– This a great opportunity to raid the pantry, especially if you have leftover Steak, Chicken, Pork Roast, Beef, Turkey, Bacon, Lamb or Burgers. [You can cook extra meat earlier in the week if you are planning to make a Chili.] Briefly saute cooked meats with Chili Seasonings to add flavor to pan. Then remove meat and add them back at the end to heat through with rest of Chili. Of course you can also start from fresh with these meats. Cook and then remove them until the end.
BEANS– If you are making a huge pot of Chili, you may consider soaking dry Pinto, Black, Kidney or Red Beans overnight. They will have to cook in the stock for several hours the next day. If you use canned, there are probably some already on your shelf. Once again it is a matter of taste, use your favorite brand of canned Chili, Red, Pinto, Black, Kidney, Ranch or Baked Beans. Drain them to infuse more of you flavor or add with the juice. You should always re-season during the last few minutes of cooking.
VEGGIES– For most Meat and Bean Chili, people tend to stop at adding canned Tomatoes for Veggies. Others add the sauteed Pan Starters listed above. You may also add Corn, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Asparagus, Eggplant, Zucchini, Carrots or anything you like from the Veggie drawer or freezer. We especially like to add any leftover Grilled Onions or Peppers.
PASTA/SERVING IDEAS– If you want to make the Chili more of a full meal, serve it over cooked Rice, Orzo, Macaroni, Noodles or Spaghetti. Or layer it with Cheese, Fritos (and/or Tortillas) or Tortilla Chips and bake to make it a Casserole.
CONDIMENTS– Here is where the finishing touches allow your guests to make it their own.
-Shredded Cheeses: Sharp or Mild Cheddar, Colby, Monterey, Mexican Blend, Queso Fresco Cotija or even try Crumbled Bleu Cheese.
-Chopped Onions: Red, White, Yellow or Green Scallions.
-Crackers- Oyster, Saltines, Wheat Thins or Sesame Crackers are some favorites.
-Breads: Plain or Jalapeno Corn Bread, Corn Muffins, Biscuits, Rolls, Fritos, Tortilla Chips or even Garlic Bread or Breadsticks.
-Peppers and Hot Sauces: Picked Banana Peppers, Jalapenos, Sweet Peppers or Pepper Rings. Cholula, Sriracha, Tabasco (Red or Green), Tapatio are among the favorite hot sauces. The ones you like best are already in the Pantry.
Hope these ideas will inspire you to make your our unique delicious Chili creations at home. If it is really good, feel free to send in your pics and recipes to share with us.