Friday, September 30, 2011

Truck Stop Chili - Three Ways

This wins the award for the dinner that kept on giving this week. It could be easily adapted for a slow-cooker, doing the initial browning of meats and onions over the stove, then transferring to the cooker. Low for 6-8 hours would probably do the trick. I used the stove-top; prepped it at lunch time, then let it simmer all afternoon. Our often hectic evenings always go much more smoothly when I manage to cook/plan ahead like this. 

I modified the original recipe to reduce the heat a bit and to include a few more spices. Using center-cut bacon reduced the fat and sodium. Look for a 5 lb. packaged beef brisket and take it to the butcher counter. Ask to have as much of the fat trimmed off as possible and to have it cubed. Because who wants to mess around with trimming beef at home?

 6 slices center cut bacon
3.5 lbs well-trimmed beef brisket, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas 1015 or Mayan Sweet), chopped
2 TB cumin
2 TB chili powder
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
grating fresh nutmeg
4 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
32 oz. low-sodium beef broth
one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 dried chipotle chili
2 bay leaves

chopped tomatoes
chopped onions
shredded cheddar or Mexican mix
chopped cilantro
sour cream
blue corn chips

Dinner #1: Over rice, topped with cheese, sour cream, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and blue corn chips.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove bacon and set on paper towels to drain. Over high heat, brown the beef in the bacon drippings, then set aside to drain in colander. Over medium heat, saute chopped onion in the remaining drippings until lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.

Toast cumin in a small skillet over medium heat for just about a minute. Add cumin and other spices to onions and stir constantly for one minute. Transfer to soup pot. Crumble in bacon, add beef broth, tomatoes, chipotle chili, bay leaves and beef. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 hours, partially covered.

Set the garnish choices out and let everyone choose their own toppings.

Modified from "Truck Stop Chili" in The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh.

Dinner #2: As the sauce for cheese and onion enchiladas.
Cheese and onion enchiladas for dinner #2 were so easy, I even managed them on soccer practice night. Prep a side salad to go along with them early in the day. If you're going to eat chili three nights in a row, don't forget to include something green! Heat up 10-12 corn tortillas, fill and roll. Top with chili, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Uncover and cook until the cheese is melted. Broil for a couple of minutes at the end, for a nice, browned top.

Dinner #3, and my personal favorite: Migas!
I'm a sucker for migas. This was the kids' favorite incarnation of the chili, too. Scrambled eggs on top of corn chips, topped with chili, cheese, chopped onions and green pepper. BTW, Xochitl Blue Corn Chips = Awesome. Thin, crispy and perfect. (And no, I'm not being paid to say that, but if anyone from Xochitl should read this, I'll totally accept a free bag or two.)

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