Chili, the simple plan for the Fourth

  • Tue Jul 3rd, 2012 4:30pm
  • Life

By Judyrae Kruse Herald Columnist

For years now, I’ve wondered silently or right out loud to a few selected family members or friends — what’s wrong with having a big pot or two pots of chili for the Fourth of July?

With, of course, favorite toppings and go-withs. Particularly when the weather-guessers we listen to on the radio or watch on TV completely miss what’s what, take a too-weak shot at it, or outright lie.

By and large, the consensus of opinion is nothing. Nothing at all’s wrong with chili instead of barbecued this, that and the other, not to mention the salads, chips, dips and so on that goes with them. Hey, if you already have them made and ready to go, they’ll get eaten during the day anyway.

Besides, and this is positively not something, in my humble opinion, that should ever be overlooked, especially if the Fourth is as busy, busy, busy for you as it is for some of us. It simplifies, people — takes the pressure off everybody, really.

First and foremost, in the pressure-off case and those directly in the line of fire, would obviously be those of us expected to hover over the barbecue until the last burger, brat and the what-else is done and on somebody’s plate. Or on the help-yourself platter for latecomers or want-some-of-thats.

On the off chance you agree with some of us, get a hurry on, get to the store if you need to, and get whatever you need to make one of today’s two recipes.

The first comes to us courtesy of faithful Forum recipe-sharer Carol Wilson of Everett, who tells us, “I got this recipe from Judy Todd, one of my email friends. She said she makes this every year and it’s tasty, easy to make and can be served any time during the day.”

Then, for those that like a white chili with chicken, here’s a funky new chance at it, one that comes to us courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, and includes a dose of their pure chocolate extract. Hmmm … Maybe a touch of that Mexican specialty, mole?

If not now, then another time, let’s try:

Slow-cooker chili

2 pounds ground beef

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

2 medium onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Shredded cheddar cheese and other favorite chili toppings

In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and transfer to a crockpot. Add the beans, tomato, tomato sauce, onions, green pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Garnish individual servings with the cheese and other favorite toppings.

Hearty white bean chili

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in medium dice

1 cup finely diced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken stock

1 can (29 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce

1 can (7 ounces) diced green chiles

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pure chocolate extract

1 can (15 ounces) white kidney beans, drained

1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in medium saute pan over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until brown. Remove chicken from pan with slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion to pan and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wood spoon to deglaze.

Pour the stock mixture into a large saucepot and add the cooked chicken, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chiles, cumin, parsley, oregano, cayenne pepper and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate extract and white kidney beans. Cook for 10 minutes.

Ladle the chili into soup bowls and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings.