I am not a Texan. I am a Yankee born and bred, but I have been in Texas for almost 20 years now which is over half my life time. I have given birth to four Texans. However, I am certain that the natives don’t accept me as one of their own. I am definitely a transplant who still clings to many of her northern ways.
Take chili, for example. I believe chili should have beans in it, though there are many in Texas who would declare that a heretical statement. I choose to ignore them. Where my extended family lived in the Midwest, chili is often served with pasta in it, usually elbow pasta at our house. In other parts of the Midwest, it’s spaghetti. Down here in Texas, when you suggest serving chili with pasta, you get some very strange looks. One of my current family members prefers rice to pasta, so I’ll sometimes serve rice with it. I like to dump vegetables into mine. Last night I had zucchini in the fridge, so I sautéed it in olive oil and put some in my serving. Other times I add defrosted frozen broccoli or eggplant or greens or whatever vegetables I’ve brought home from the farmers’ market. Again, a heretical idea for a dish which some argue is all about meat, but tough. It’s healthier my way. 🙂
The recipe below is a variation of the chili I ate as a child. I make it frequently, but yet I was surprised to find I’ve never written it down. That problem has now been rectified. This is a double batch recipe. I make a huge amount so we have leftovers for the next few days for lunches and/or so I can freeze some because it freezes well. However, if you aren’t into large batch cooking, the recipe can easily be cut in half though that leaves you with half a can of tomato paste to figure out what else to use it in.
As always, I substitute with what I have on hand. I have a hard time even following my own recipes. I usually use green peppers, but I had some red and orange that needed to get used up, so I threw them into the batch pictured above. I had been at Boggy Creek Farm and had some fresh green garlic, so I substituted four stems of that for the dried garlic cloves. In the past when I haven’t had the beans I need in the pantry, I’ve been known to throw white or black beans in instead, but red and pinto are definitely my preference for this recipe. One thing I don’t ever substitute is generic tomatoes or tomato paste. I tried the store brand organics once, and that was a mistake I’ll never make again. Canned tomatoes are one food item where the name brand is really a step above the rest.
Olive oil for the pan (about 2-3 tablespoons)
1 large organic yellow or white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 organic green peppers, diced (or red or any mild pepper) (about 2 cups)
2 pounds 95% grass fed beef (bison works well, too)
6-8 cloves organic garlic, sliced into small pieces
2-15 ounce cans organic pinto beans, drained
2-15 ounce cans organic red beans, drained
1-28 ounce can Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes
1-6 ounce can Muir Glen organic tomato paste
1 cup water
2-3 tablespoons organic chili powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon organic black pepper
In a large soup pot, cook the onion, green peppers, beef, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the beef is browned. While the beef is browning, open all the canned goods and drain the beans. Mix the tomato paste with the water and spices—I usually use a two cup glass measuring cup so it’s easy to dump in to the pot. Once the beef is browned, add in the beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and spices. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes on medium heat until the mixture is bubbly and the spices have had a chance to blend in a bit.
Makes about 4 quarts.