Hurricane Chili

Well, it has been some time, hasn’t it?

Aren’t broken computers fascinating? Could there be anything more irritating than trying to deal with computer issues? Yet at the same time, could there be anything less interesting to listen to than the computer problems of others? To make a boring story somewhat less boring: my brand new MacBook Pro was in the shop being repaired for three weeks. Now it is back in the shop, once again being repaired as that first repair was rather less effective than one would have hoped. In the meantime, I am using a nearly 5-year-old MacBook. It’s a very sweet old thing. The disc drive doesn’t work, the wireless connection pretends it doesn’t exist. But I’ll be darned if the word processor isn’t a game old gal!

For all her effort, this steadfast computer is uncomfortable dealing with photos. Over the past few months I’ve taken pictures of many meals, imagining future blog posts (things to look forward to: homemade ginger liquor and apple butter!). I’ve put these posts off, waiting for the day I’d be able to post pictures again.

Then, Hurricane Sandy came along. If a hurricane isn’t a good enough reason to say “I’m going to have a party!” throw up your hands, make some hurricane chili and blog about it, well then you’re waiting for an opportunity that’s never going to come along.

On Saturday, Dan and I made a pre-storm trip to Whole Foods. For some reason, the Asian canned-food items looked much better than their American brethren, so we stocked up on Tom Kha Phak, ramen noodles, and Bombay potatoes (and a big ol’ box of white wine). Today, in our last hours of electricity, Dan and I decided to make Rick Bayless’ “World’s Greatest Chili.” It’s all pantry staples, and we had some ground meat we wanted to use up before we lost power, so it seemed like a reasonable choice.

Here’s the thing about hurricane chili: unless you’ve planned for this particular dish in advance, you’re going to realize partway through your cooking preparations that you are out of some vital ingredient. Unlike most nights, hurricane nights aren’t forgiving of these mistakes. There’s no change running up the block for those canned tomatoes, or that missing cumin (where on earth could it have gotten to???).

These nights, when we’ve been told so very often to “hunker down” with our loved ones, call for flexibility and forgiveness (truly, there’s only so much you can beat yourself up about neglecting to realize you were low on diced tomatoes). It’s a time to clean out your pantry, ask each other for advice, and trust your own taste. Our “world’s greatest chili” wound up being worlds away from Rick’s, but it was absolutely perfect for our night in.

Don’t feel the need to stick to closely to these ingredients – use what’s in your pantry or whatever strikes your fancy.

Hurricane Chili

(This post is dedicated to Dan, who cooked the Hurricane Chili and photographed our progress via Instagram)

Ingredients – Serves 4, unless you’re really hungry

2 tablespoons bacon drippings (recommended) or olive oil
1.5 lbs ground pork (or beef)
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 chipotle chiles in adobo
3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
5 sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon Mexican spice blend (mine contains cumin, garlic, paprika, white pepper, thyme and onion)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons corn meal
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces dark ale (we used Newcastle Brown Ale)
2 cups water
2 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup dry rice)

1. Sautee the ground meat and onion in the bacon drippings or olive oil over medium-high heat until browned. Use a spoon to break up the ground meat as it cooks. This should take about ten minutes.

2. Place the chipotle chiles, garlic cloves, sundried tomatoes, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add this mixture to the ground meat and onion, and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the beer to the mixture, along with 1.5 cups of water and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Add more water to the mixture if it looks like it’s getting dry.

4. After 45 minutes, stir in the corn meal and kidney beans. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Total Carbs: 150
Carbs per serving:37.5

One thought on “Hurricane Chili

  1. Chili today, hot tamale!! Actually, other way around! Chili is our traditional Halloween dinner, so even though… Even though there are trees down all around our neighborhood, even though many New Yorkers are still without power (we are so lucky!), even though who in the world knows when school will start back up again… We’re dressing up tomorrow and having chili. Cuz that’s what New Yorkers do. Dress up. Have chili.
    We will incorporate your suggestions!

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