Sunday, January 27, 2013

Papa's Chili and Polenta

 It’s cold and snowing here in northern Ohio. Perfect chili weather. Last night Papa made a wonderful chili, and we froze half for another time. Instead of cornbread we ate polenta with it – a combination of cultures and a lighter meal. This microwave polenta recipe takes only seven minutes.


Papa’s Chile. Of course, optimally, for bean dishes dried beans soaked and cooked are best, even frozen and thawed out. But Papa used canned beans – it’s a question of time, and the chili was wonderful. Here are the ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil (canola or olive preferred)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (after being seeded and cored) – optional
1 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken (he used ground turkey, 7% fat)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry oregano
¼ teaspoon each of ground cloves and cinnamon
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 cans pinto beans ( appx 15 oz each, drained)
2 cups chopped canned tomatoes (appx 15 oz)
2 cups water
In a large skillet over medium heat oil, add the onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until translucent. Add jalapeno and sauté a minute. Add ground meat, breaking it up with a spoon until cooked, and then add garlic and all the spices – mix about a minute or two. Then add water and tomatoes (we buy whole canned tomatoes and chop them ourselves, better quality than already chopped). Bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. This chili should be slightly saucy and is very good on rice, couscous, spaghetti, or polenta.
For company, various condiments can be brought out: sour cream (or Greek yoghurt), grated cheddar cheese), pickled jalapenos, etc. But Papa and I just enjoy ours just plain over polenta, with a tossed salad on the side.

Polenta (made in a microwave oven): In a 2 quart microwave safe glass bowl, stir together these ingredients:

½ cup polenta (or yellow cornmeal or corn grits)
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter (optional, to taste)

After stirring ingredients, cook uncovered in microwave oven at full power for 3 minutes. Stir again, and then cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until polenta is tender and ready to be spooned onto dinner plates.

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