After an obscenely hectic week and another one to come, this weekend stood as an oasis of relaxation, mindless TV watching, and a time to start digging through the mountain of schoolwork and laundry. A monkey wrench was thrown into that plan when my sister informed me that she chose me as the subject of her broadcast assignment… Apparently the assignment was to find a subject and interview them about their life, focusing on something that was interesting to the rest of the world. So she chose me. And what she wanted to focus on was my flip-flopping of career paths during my undergrad career. Since I am now on the path of becoming a registered dietitian, it was decided that I would make lunch and she would film me.
So I decided to make chili. It was simple, easy to make and talk at the same time, and I knew that my sister would help me eat it when it was done. After a morning spent running around Wegman’s gathering spices, cornbread fixings, and cans of beans, I was ready for my close-up.
The hard thing about this project was that I had to stay quiet so my sister could gather “natural sounds” – the sizzling ground chuck, the quiet bubble of simmering chili, and the crunch of my knife as I sliced cornbread. I found this part of the assignment very difficult because I usually listen to music, mumble to myself, or chat on the phone as I cook. Like the full 30 minute conversation I had with my grandmother as I whipped up cornbread batter, chopped onions, grabbed the stock pot, got my sister batteries, and organized the spice section of my pantry. I tend to multitask a bit. A good part of the assignment is that I got back to my cooking roots. In my small kitchen in Florence, I didn’t have all the distractions I do here. I was able to appreciate the process so much more.
As the chili simmered, my sister did a face-to-face interview where I highlighted all the careers I wanted to pursue before settling into this one. It was the first time that I really shared my experiences with my sister, so it was a great bonding activity for both of us. Hopefully she gets a good grade!
As she wrapped up the camera equipment, I served up chili the way our mama does it. A piece of heavy cornbread goes on the bottom, slightly mashed with a spoon, leaving big cracks where the chili can seep in. The two hearty scoops of chili go on top and it is done. No fussy toppings, like cheese or sour cream. Just the meat, beans, tomato, spices, and the savory/sweet cornbread. It was the perfect way to end the afternoon… Just my sister, chili, and cornbread.
Catherine’s Chili Recipe
1 to 1½ lb. ground beef (chuck works well), 80-20 ratio
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 – 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 – 4.5oz can of diced green chilies
¼ cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
1 McCormick “Quesadilla Casserole” seasoning pack
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 – 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 15oz can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1. Pour vegetable oil into a large pot (I use a large, short-sided soup pot) or deep saucepan set over medium high heat. When the oil is heated, add the ground beef and begin to brown.
2. Add the diced onion and continue to cook over medium heat until the meat is cooked through and onion is soft, about five minutes.
3. Dump the meat and onion mixture into a colander and lightly shake until all the fat drains off. Remove the excess grease from the pot and then put the meat/onion mixture back into it. Place the pot over medium heat.
4. Add tomato sauce, green chilies, ketchup, chicken broth, seasoning pack, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture up to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Simmer the chili for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
5. Add the black and dark red kidney beans into the pot and stir to combine. Continue to simmer the chili for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve chili over rice, cornbread, or, if you feel daring, french fries.
I make my own corn bread, but any kind works here. Also, any combination of beans works here. To stretch the chili out further (and to reduce the amount of red meat at each sitting), I might even add a third can of beans. If you do so, just check the seasoning and see if you need to add some more liquid. Happy eating!