Monday, September 27, 2010

beef chili + sour cream and cheddar biscuits

beef chili + sour cream cheddar biscuit

Abruptly, and likely surprising nobody more than my husband, I have decided to be a Good Football Wife this year. Finding it impossible to summon any actual enthusiasm for the game but refusing to fulfill the sitcom wife-cliché of grumbling about my husband’s Sunday afternoon routines, in the past, I’ve mostly tolerated it. But with months of cold and/or wet Sundays ahead of us, I finally came to the realization that football season is the perfect excuse to embrace some much-needed Lazy Sundays. A morning bagel, park and farmers market run routine segues nicely into an afternoon of bumming around, or you know, however the person at hand defines it. For Alex, football, with the requisite pre- and post-game Sports Shouting episodes. For Jacob, removing books from the bookcases one by one, then attempting to stand on them to reach higher shelves, so he can remove them too. He naps, we replace the books, he wakes up and starts again. Ah, Sundays.

garlic, beans, onions, peppers, carrots
beef chili

I made a giant pot of beef chili that I found from an old (like, 20 years!) Gourmet magazine, which, like almost all Gourmet recipes I run across, makes me sniffle and miss the magazine (in its original incarnation, that is, I haven’t made sense of this app thing yet) even more. Here, they gathered all of the things you’d normally dollop on top of a bowl of chili — cheddar, sour cream and pickled jalapeños — and formed them into a biscuit, which they use to serve the chili shortcake-style. I bet you didn’t know chili could be so cute! I just want to stand up and applaud their creativity but instead I’m very sad, because I’ve been bereft of fresh batches of it for nearly a year. I did not cry into this chili, however, because it was awesome, so awesome that the member of our family who a) does not know how to use a spoon, b) wants to eat what you’re eating but c) refuses to be fed from a spoon actually honored us with the privilege of letting us feed him. And tucked away a frightening amount of chili. The chili is that tremendous.

white cheddarsour cream biscuit doughcutting the shortcakessour cream and cheddar shortcakes

One last thing: If you are from Texas, I want you to promise to take a deep breath before reading the recipe. I know that chili con carne is the official dish of Texas and I know how seriously Texans take their chili con carne and their feelings about things named chili that contain things like kidney beans, bell peppers, carrots, oregano, vinegar and if that hasn’t blown your top yet, tomato sauce too — see also: Epicurious comments such as “No TEXAN would ever call this chili!” and “This recipe is blasphemous!” Then again, if you are from Texas you’ve likely got a recipe you were making since you were old enough to stand at a stove and don’t need my Chili Con Carne Not Sanctioned By Texans or Those With Texas Allegiances anyway. But still, I want us all to get along, even those of us who (shh) might like it all blasphemized better.

beef chili
sour cream and cheddar biscuits

One year ago: Date Spice Loaf
Two years ago: Black and White Cookies and Summer’s Last Hurrah Panzanella
Three years ago: Cream Cheese Noodle Kugel and Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds
Four years ago: Outrageous Brownies and White Batter Bread

A not-so-new sideblog about feeding babies: I have this terrible habit of launching side projects and, um, not telling people — like the six weeks I was blogging at Epicurious or the side blog entirely devoted to cooking Tips. Last spring, I started sporadically posting some baby food recipes, such as applesauce, peach sauce with nutmeg, a vanilla bean pear sauce and a mango-banana sauce. There have also been first carrots, spinach and white yams, Morroccan-ish carrots and yams and now, we are elbows (and eyebrows, really) deep in finger foods. I want to keep expectations real low; I’m still a one-woman operation, this site and that little cookbook I’m writing are my top priorities right now but obviously, with a one year old underfoot, a tremendous amount of energy is going into figuring out how to interrupt his steady diet of carpet lint + whatever he found on the ground at the park with some occasionally wholesome foods. I’ll be talking about that over here.

Beef Chili with Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from Gourmet

A couple notes: First, if you like a saucier chili, you might reduce the beef by one pound, though this might reduce your serving size. [Updated to add:] You could also add a second can of beans, as some commenters have suggested. Second, I didn’t get the rise out of these biscuits that I’d expected to. Since they were delicious and other commenters have raved about them, I assumed it was me and didn’t bother tinkering with them. Finally, the original recipe says that it serves six but I think it stretches further, especially if you’re doing this shortcake-style, with just a ladleful on top. I’d suggest scaling the biscuit portion to the number of guests you’re having. If you make more than you need, I recommend freezing the extras unbaked until you’re ready to serve the chili again — you can bake them directly from the freezer, and they’ll always be fresh and crisp. [Updated a few years later to add:] I mention this in the previous note, but not as clearly as I should have: this makes a lot of chili but not that many biscuits. The proportions, especially if you want to serve this on biscuits, are off. I’d double or triple the biscuit recipe if serving the full batch of chili. Enjoy!

Serves [more than] 6

2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced thin (suggested by Gourmet) or in a small dice, as I’d chop them next time
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, ground coarse or 3 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dry oregano
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste (Gourmet suggests 1 tablespoon; I used 1 teaspoon knowing that my flakes are very hot)
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce or 2 cups fresh tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups or 1 19-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green bell peppers, chopped
Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits, below
Sour cream and pickled jalapeños (optional, to finish)

In a large pot (I used a 5-quart, and just fit it all), heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for one minute more. Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth and vinegar and simmer the chili, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes (if you used ground beef) or 50 to 60 minutes (if you used coarse chuck). Add the kidney beans, bell peppers, salt (I used 2 teaspoons to get the seasoning right for my tastes) and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until the bell peppers are tender.

Serve ladled over a split Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuit, below, with additional sour cream and pickled jalapenos, if desired.

Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
Drained and chopped pickled jalapeños, to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Either cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or rub them in with your fingertips until well-combined. Stir in the cheddar, jalapeños and sour cream until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Pat it out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a very well-floured counter and use a 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut six rounds. Bake on an ungreased (or parchment-lined, if your baking sheets are as “weathered” as mine are) for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden on top.

Do ahead: If you’d like to serve them over a couple days, I recommend freezing already formed but unbaked biscuits until you are ready to bake them — you can bake them directly from the freezer, adding just a minute or two to the baking time.


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