All-American Chili… and Cornbread

30 Oct

There are two sides to the great “What Should Be Served with Chili” debate.  One party votes for cinnamon rolls.  The other, lesser, party cried, “Cornbread!”

Since I am a time-strapped mother (to be more specific, not time-strapped exactly, but hobbled by the youngster toddling about underfoot and opening every drawer he’s not supposed to and playing with the dog dishes instead of his toys), I am of the Cornbread Party.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a giant cinnamon roll oozing buttery, cinnamony sugar from every crevice.  I will pay good money at school fund-raisers to get those delightful cinnamon rolls, the kind that high school cooks nationwide seem to have mastered.  Or at east in the Midwest, they have.  I think it’s some sort of prerequisite for them, part of the interview process.

So in lieu of buttery, cinnamony sugar, I make my cornbread a buttery, honey-y indulgence.  Ummmm yummmm…

The recipe I use is a good one – fluffy and moist, with a great cornbread texture.  Don’t be grossed out, but I actually do melt shortening instead of using vegetable oil.  That’s what ensures the terrific moistness.

And the chili…  Oh, there are a million different chili factions out there, I know.  My husband and I each belong to at least a couple.  My husband is part of the “More Meat, Fewer Beans” and the “Not So Hot I Can’t Taste It” groups.  I used to be of the “You Shouldn’t Need a Recipe for Chili, Just Throw it All Together and Season at Will” party.  This recipe changed that.  I will make it again.

All-American Chili

It’s got a lovely sweetness and just a tiny bit of heat.  If I didn’t want to feed it to the Little Guy, I would have added a little cayenne at the end to spice it up.  The mushrooms add a nice bit of texture.  I used portabella instead of crimini, and instead of Rotel (what kind of cook doesn’t have a permanent can of Rotel in her pantry, really?) I used this El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco.  It’s 7 3/4 ounces and smooth, compared to Rotel’s slightly chunky 10 ounces.

This chili would be tasty on chili dogs, nachos, or baked potatoes, too.  I always freeze some leftovers of soups and chilis we have, and I plan on using these leftovers for nachos or baked potatoes!

Thanks, EatLiveRun, for the recipe!

All-American Chili
Serves 4-6

3 16-oz cans chili beans (in mild sauce)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (or portabella, as I used)
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
½ cup brewed coffee
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions and sauté until translucent — about five minutes. Add the ground beef and garlic and cook until browned.

When the meat has browned, add the mushrooms and stir well. Cook for five more minutes, until mushrooms become tender. Then, stir in the beans (with sauce), tomato sauce, Rotel and brewed coffee.

Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Add the sugar, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin and salt. Continue simmering on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring often. Adjust seasonings according to your taste preferences.

Cornbread
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c cornmeal
2 eggs
1 c milk (I use skim and it works just fine)
1/4 c shortening (melted, or use vegetable oil)
2 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Beat eggs into milk and shortening.  Pour into dry ingredients and stir together, being careful not to over-mix.  Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Store leftovers in refrigerator, tightly covered.

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