Intro to Cooking: Five-Alarm Chili

You’re probably acquainted with the certain level of poverty that comes with being a student—let’s face it, as collegians, we’re not exactly whipping up filet mignon each night. The rice and beans diet is a rite of passage among us (which, I might add, I actually enjoy a lot).

And you might also be familiar with the it’s-fall-and-its-not-actually-very-cold-but-my-landlord-hasn’t-turned-on-my-heat-yet-so-it-seems-FREEZING charade, too. Which is why I found myself craving something rich and hearty this week, something low-cost but high-comfort. Since I’m also too cheap to buy a Snuggie (hi, Ma! My birthday is just around the corner!), chili is the only thing I can count on to warm me up from the inside out.

This week’s ingredient: Beef!

Cardiologists and calorie-counting health writers alike may seem to put the taboo on red meat, but when eaten in moderation it has enormous health benefits. Women especially need to be conscious of getting enough iron, which is plentiful in beef, and naturally you’ll be getting a protein punch with each serving (rule of thumb: no bigger than your fist). Look for lean beef—I like 97%–to make sure you’re getting more nutrients than fat.

Also, if you’re uneasy about cooking red meat, ground beef is a great way to start. The fat content in even the leanest cuts provides sufficient grease to avoid sticking to the pan when sautéed. So just plop it in the skillet, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook until browned all the way through.

The Recipe: Five-Alarm Chili
I adapedt a recipe from my mother that is similar to this one found online.

Ingredients

3 lbs. ground beef
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 red peppers, chopped
2 sliced jalapeno peppers
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons flour (or corn starch)
Shredded cheddar cheese to taste

Instructions

1. Per directions above, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain off the fat. It helps to break apart the beef with your hands before cooking (then wash those paws), and stirring with a wooden spoon.

2. In a large pot, combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients except the cheese, and bring to a simmer over low heat.

3. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours, or alternatively use a crock-pot for 4-6. Serve and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.

P.S. For all you veggies out there, we’ve got a version for you too!

See what else Sara got on the burner (or in the oven/micro).

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