Someone asked me a while back what meal I would choose if I could only ever eat one meal for the rest of my life (with the liberty to adjust it here or there. Example: with lettuce for lunch, with bacon for dinner). When you think about it, that’s a very serious question and one I’m glad I will never have to experience. Any meal, I’m sure, would get tiring after a while. Some would get old quicker than others.
At first, my answer was burgers. Cheeseburgers with ketchup, mayonnaise, and lettuce, is one of my favorites. Bacon and tomato make it even better. However, thinking about the combinations I could do to change it up from becoming boring, I think there’s one meal I would enjoy more: chili. Think of how many different ways it can be made. With beans, without beans, different vegetables, a wide variety of meats. There is sweet chili and spicy chili and some that are right in the middle with a wonderful blend of both.
My favorite chili recipe and go to every fall and winter was developed by Emeril Lagasse and it’s called Emeril’s Kicking Chili.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 pounds ground beef
- 4 cups chopped yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Essence
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Four 12-ounce bottles dark beer
- Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate
- 6 cups cooked red kidney beans (see Note) or four 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, for garnish
- 1 cup finely chopped green onions, for garnish
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. Add the beef and brown well, about 10 minutes. Add the onions, chili powder, cumin, Southwest Essence, cayenne, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onions soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beer and cook until the foam subsides, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, brown sugar, and chocolate to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Skim off as much fat as possible. Add the beans, return to a simmer, cover, and cook until thickened, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Serve with the cheese, green onions, and cilantro alongside as garnish.
- Note: To make 6 cups cooked red kidney beans: Soak 1 pound dried beans for 6 hours or overnight. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
It makes a big enough batch for company or parties. My family likes to double it so that there’s plenty left over for freezing afterward. It is a wonderful meal to pull out and heat during the cold winter. The recipe calls for beer but spinning it up we prefer to use a pot of coffee.
*Tip: If it’s too spicy for you, try putting a tablespoon of peanut butter in your chili. There was one time I was making this for a potluck dinner and I accidentally read “Tablespoons” rather than “Teaspoons”. I like spice, but this mistake was enough to set your mouth on fire and I only had an hour or so before dinner – not enough time at all to put together a new batch. After some Googling, my family found this trick and tried it out. Amazingly it neutralized the spice and no one had any idea that it had once been so spicy.
My favorite meal, even above burgers, uses chili and it’s called Stack-Ups. In no particular order, take a bowl and layer chili, white rice, Frito chips, cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. (I say no particular order because I have known some who have liked their chips on the bottom, while others prefer them to stay crunchy by putting them on top of their chili and rice.) There are so many wonderful flavors in this dish it’ll leave you wanting more.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Feature image source: oneclass.com