It seems like this past week has just slipped by in the blink of an eye. This time last week, Kyle and I were jamming to Sirius XM’s Hair Nation (Kyle’s choice) on our road trip up to Lake George, NY as a stopover before meeting up with Annie of Annie’s Eats on Monday in Vermont (pictures to come tomorrow!). The bourbon pumpkin tart I made last week was a big hit around here and leftovers lasted until mid-week (even the whipped cream stayed nice and fluffy!). This week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe brings us back to the savory side of the cookbook, traditionally one of my favorite parts of this book.
And by traditionally, I mean I’ve loved every single recipe I’ve made from this part of the book…except this one. This recipe for Beef Gorditas sounded excellent in theory but neither one of us was blown away by the filling. As you can see, I opted out of making the actual gordita buns since I’ve been fighting a nasty head cold since Wednesday and decided to put the filling, which is much like Tex-Mex sloppy joes, over Fritos because…well, hello…it’s Fritos! I found the filling a little on the bland side as written and I added an extra 1/2 tsp salt, an 1/2 tsp of cumin, and drizzled the final dish with extra hot sauce (Frank’s). The Fritos and the hot sauce definitely helped to give the meal a boost but I can’t really see us making this recipe again. In any event, Amanda of Fake Ginger has the full recipe posted if you’re interested. Next week we’re doing apple pie!!
With Fall on the doorstep, the morning temperatures here have been dipping into the 30s and honestly, it’s been lovely! This weather has also got us craving (and I mean craving) cold-weather foods and I’m the first one to say, “Bring on the chili!” Actually, when I was making up our menu for this week last Friday morning, I sort of had an epiphany when I realized, with my winter slippers already on and a hot cup of coffee sitting next to me, that it’s time for cozy food again. What an exciting moment in a Fall-favoring foodie’s life! So this black bean and beef chili made it to the menu and the weather hasn’t disappointed us yet this week. It seems as if Fall is the only season that “knows” it’s place here in New England – Winter lasts well into Spring, sometimes it feels like we miss Spring and jump directly into Summer, and Winter often feels like it starts in November. Fall…you’re right on time!
We made this chili once last winter and decided that it deserves a place of honor next to my turkey chili. It’s really fantastic…for a beef chili. Believe it or not, this was our first beef chili – it’s been one of Kyle’s long-standing, yet never-fulfilled requests and I can assure you that he is a happy camper with this recipe. I was mainly afraid of beef chili being greasy but the use of very lean ground beef in this recipe remedies this issue…which made me a very happy camper. What’s so cool about this recipe is that you’ll purée one can of the black beans with the tomatoes and this mixture will thicken the chili as it cooks. The chili ends up thick and hearty without too much heat despite the various types of chile powders. I can’t think of a better meal to welcome in my favorite season…and paired with a few scoopable Fritos, I’d say it’s pretty darn close to perfection.
1 diced chipotle chili pepper (canned in adobo sauce) or a pinch of ground chipotle chile powder
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat)
1 medium red onion, very finely diced
1 tbsp regular chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ancho chile powder
Pinch ground chipotle chile powder
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups beef stock or 1 (15 oz) can beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Drain 2 cans black beans into colander and rinse well, until no more foam appears. Let beans drain while you use a food processor to puree the third can of undrained beans, diced tomatoes and liquid, and the diced chipotle chile pepper (or chipotle powder). Process the beans and tomatoes about 1 minute, until they are fairly smooth.
In bottom of heavy soup pot or large Dutch oven, heat 1 – 2 tsp olive oil and brown beef, using the back of the turner to break it into small pieces. Remove beef to bowl, then add a bit more olive oil and the onions. Lower heat a little and cook onions until they are softened but not starting to brown. Add all the chile powders and cumin and saute about 30 seconds.
Add beef stock, browned ground beef, pureed bean mixture, drained beans, and tomato paste and simmer over low heat, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir the chili occasionally to prevent any sticking on the bottom of the pot. After 45 minutes, check the seasonings and add more chile powder, salt, and/or pepper as needed.
Just before serving Chili, stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice and cook about 5 minutes. Serve chili hot with toppings of your choice.