Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chili with Sweet Corn Dumplings

It's fall! Football season, school buses, turning leaves, and changing weather. Even though we didn't have much of a summer here in the Pacific Northwest, we can still celebrate fall.

I have been craving chili lately. Which is really odd for me, I usually don't eat chili more than once or twice a year. And, while I love different kinds of herbs and spices, I generally don't like spicy hot foods. While some of you love Sricha so much you can put it on everything, I can taste a drop in a cup of homemade vinaigrette. So 1 teaspoon would, quite literally, feel like my mouth was on fire.

However, good chili doesn't have to be hot and spicy. Yes, it has to have its share of spices, but they don't have to light your mouth on fire. When I lived in Southern California, I participated in the Conejo Valley Chili Cookoff for 3 years. I entered the competition chili (which can not contain beans, and must contain beef), which I had no chance of winning. I also entered the People's Choice Chili, which must contain beans. For that, I always made a turkey and a vegetarian chili. So I've had quite a lot of practice with my chili.

Now, my chili will never be of the caliber to even place in that contest, I'm very happy with this recipe. I've changed it, tweaked it, and added a bunch of things, but I learned a lot during my cook-off days. The recipe I'm sharing can contain beef, chicken, or turkey. If you want to bump up the spices, you can also add veggie crumbles and/or lentils if you want vegetarian chili.

I will tell you - this chili does have meat. I was planning on making a lentil chili (yes, I was going to feed my carnivorous brother a meatless chili), but when I mentioned chili, my Mom wanted some as well, and I knew I couldn't get away with serving her a meatless chili. I believe her response was - well, I'll just brown some ground beef and sprinkle it on top...sigh... I couldn't let that happen to my chili!

I wanted to work a little on a corn-based accompaniment to the chili. I love the taste of corn bread, but I'm just not a fan of the texture. During my vegan years, one of the things I just craved was the corn pudding served with most of the entrees at El Torito. I worked quite a bit on that recipe, and found one that I just loved that contained masa instead of corn meal. The result is perfect to serve with your chili.

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients, this chili comes together fairly quickly once the beans are cooked! If you have never cooked beans from dry, I encourage you to try - you will save a lot of money. Just soak the beans overnight in a lot of water. In the morning, drain the water, and place the beans and more water in a sauce pan. Heat until boiling, then simmer until just tender, about 1-2 hours. Drain excess water, and they are ready.

Chili, serves 4 to 6

1/2 lb small kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (you can substitute 2 cans of kidney beans, drained)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 t. oil
1 15 oz. can tomato puree
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 c. water
1 t. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
2/3 t. smoked paprika
2 t. ancho chili powder
2 t. cumin
1 t. pepper
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne (or to taste)
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. worcestershire sauce
1 t. apple cider vinegar

Heat a large soup pot on medium to medium high heat. Crumble ground beef into pot, and cook until browned. Remove from pot. Check to see how much fat is remaining in the pot. Add enough oil to make 2 t. of oil total in your pot, and add onions. Cook approximately 5 minutes, until translucent. Add paprika, smoked paprika, ancho powder, and cumin. Toast 1-2 minutes until you can smell the cumin. Add tomato paste, and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add water and scrape any bits remaining on the bottom of the pot off. Add ground beef, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, beans, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low to medium and simmer 2 hours. Add worcestershire sauce and vinegar and let cook an additional 15-20 minutes. Taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and/or cayenne to taste. Serve warm.

Sweet Corn Dumplings

1/2 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. masa
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 can cream style corn
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch pan.

Combine all ingredients until a smooth consistency. Pour into 8x8 pan. Place the 8x8 pan in a 13x9x2 pan and fill the 13x9x2 pan with an inch of water. Place in oven and bake 45 minutes until golden brown on the top. Serve warm.


  1. Your chili sounds wonderful! and I'm loving the corn dumplings!!! This one has been bookmarked. Thanks for the yummy recipes!

  2. @Andrea - thank you! Hope you like the recipe. My family really loved both of them!