Monday, January 25, 2010

Uncle David's Favorite Chili Recipe

Our Uncle David was unique. He was Mom's younger (by six years) brother. He never married. He didn't hold a steady job until he went to work for Uncle Walt. He liked to play the horses and greyhounds. He had crush on both Julie London and Nancy Sinatra. He played their records over and over, much to my delight. When he was a teen, we played a game, he had 'foo foo dust' in his pockets, where he sprinkled me with pocket dust and I became a fairy.

When Uncle Dave arrived, he showered his nieces with kisses and hugs. We would wiggle and squirm to get away. Mom said we hurt his feelings when we did that. I felt bad about that, I truely never wanted to hurt him. Twenty years after his death, my cousin Nancy said, "I would give anything for one of Uncle David's hugs." I had to turn away or else break into great, grieving sobs.
Dave loved my chili.  He said it was better than Mom's, which was saying a lot.  I know what he liked about mine, I used ketchup in my chili.  Dave loved his ketchup.
We didn't see Uncle Dave for the year or so he was stationed in England.  When he came back, my younger sisters didn't remember him and would scream if he came near them.  It took a couple of months for them to realize he was the best uncle ever.  My apologies to Uncles Lawerence, Les, Ed, Roy, Walt, Harry, Jack, Ed, Jerry, and Bill.  I know you all know what I am talking about.

Uncle David's Favorite Chili
1 lb dry pinto beans   Mom used small red beans
1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 TPSP chili powder
2 tsp dry cumin
2 whole dried red chilis
2 quarts homecanned tomatoes  or 2 22 oz cans tomatoes
1 cup Heinz ketchup

Pick over the beans and rinse well
Put in a dutch oven, cover with 3x amount of water to beans, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for 3 hours.  I don't mess with soaking, it still takes the same amount of time to cook the beans. 
Check the water level every now and then.  Let the water cook down, but don't let the beans go dry.
After 3 hours test for doneness.
Now, brown the ground beef and onion together.
Drain the fat. 
The spices to the pan, off the heat and let them toast for 30 sec.
The liquid from the tomatoes to the pan to deglaze
Pour the liquid/spice mixture into the beans
Now add the tomatoes, ketchup and meat mixture to the beans.
Cook together at least 30 on simmer.
Feeds 6 to 8

Please don't add tomatoes to beans before the beans are throughly cooked.  The acid in the tomato breaks down the proteins in the bean making it less nutritious.

On Browning Meat
I have always loved to watch Martin Chan cook.  He jokes around and makes Chinese cookery look as easy as it is.
One of Chan's favorite lines is, "This is stir fry, not stare fry."  He means when using a wok to  keep the food moving and cook everything quickly.
Well, when browning meat it is better to use 'Stare fry.'  Allow the meat to brown before moving it.  One easy way to do this is to place the meat on a hot skillet like one giant hamburger.  Leave it to brown, just like a burger, then turn it over and do the same.  When the second side is brown, start breaking up the meat.  Let it sit to brown, then break it up more and let it brown.  Until the meat is cooked through.  I drain my ground beef after browning.  I do not rinse off that gorgeous brown flavor. 
I have been told that some people use the George Foreman Grill to brown their ground meat.  The fat is drained as the meat cooks.  I don't like to do that as you lose those brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  The French call it the 'fond,' and go to great lengths to save it.
I guess the lesson here is to allow time for the meat to get brown, really brown.  We love brown, gray is just not all that appitizing or appealing.

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