Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is It Autumn Yet?

Have I told you that Autumn is my favorite season?

It is, you know.

Yes, Spring is wonderful, and if I lived in the Northern confines of these United States, I'm sure I would look forward to Spring and relish it for the rebirth that it brings. But lets face it. I live in South Texas. Winter here is rarely harsh, and never long. There are many years were it never falls below freezing. In fact, on more than one occasion I have successfully planted a vegetable garden in January. Spring is nice, but it's not that big a deal down here. Besides, Spring is short, and to me it has always been the harbinger of the blast furnace that is summer. I'll take Autumn, thank you very much.

Autumn in South Texas doesn't have the color of New England, or the rush of the harvest, rather, it is the time when the humid, overbearing heat of Summer gives way to dryer, crisper air. Granted, in early Autumn it can still be hot, but a 91 degree afternoon is a lot more bearable if you had a crisp 65 degree morning to go with it. The yards green back up after their late August wilt, fall gardens deliver tomatoes and peppers, and the farmers market starts to fill with winter squash.

Well, of course that means it's time for a hearty chili, right? Yes, it will be at least 2 months before there is even an outside chance of frost on the grass, but just knowing that the days are getting shorter and (relatively) cooler makes me reach for the soup pot. I assure you, it will get a workout between now and Easter.

The following recipe is roughly translated from a recipe I found on the Internet several years back. It was supposed to be a knock off of Wendy's chili. It's not really, but the boys love it, and it is much healthier than the Texas style chili I also make. But that's another post . . .

3 Bean Chili

2 lbs. fresh ground chuck
1 46oz. can of tomato juice
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed*
1 large onion (at least 2 c.), chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 c finely minced carrot
Beef Broth (about two or three cups, see below)
2 Tab. Ketchup
1/2 cup chili powder, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I use fresh, 3 cloves minced – see directions below)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar (yes, it needs it – shush!)
cayenne pepper to taste

In a pan, brown the ground chuck, season well with salt, pepper, half of the chili powder, and half of the cumin. When it is starting to brown, add half of the onion, half of the pepper, half of the garlic, and all of the celery and carrot. Slowly sauté until the beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the beef into the chili pot with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the fat behind. There should be very little liquid, just clear red fat. Add the rest of the seasoning, and the ketchup to the pot. Add beef broth until just covered. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. This step is essential if you use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. After it has simmered for 20 minutes, add the puree, the crushed tomatoes, the rest of the vegetables, and half of the can of tomato juice. Cover and bring to a bare simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and as much tomato juice as needed to bring it to the consistency you would like. It should be substantial, but a bit soupy. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

*I use Ranch Style Beans, undrained in place of pinto beans, but they are probably not available if you don’t live in Texas.

This is great with cornbread.


Anonymous said...

After moving to Georgia from Illinois, I find myself looking forward to autumn and even winter. I like the break from the heat and I like how live slows down a little bit.

And it's chili weather. Who doesn't love that?

Anne said...

Yes, yes, yes!! I have been longing for the coolness of Autumn and winter, and I am thrilled that it's even barely cool enough (which is to say not really, but at least cool enough that I'm not sweltering in the kitchen) to be using my beloved enameled cast iron soup pot again. In fact, I have some pisto con chorizo, using up some of the late summer squash and peppers, simmering away on the stove right now. It won't be long before I turn my attention to chili. I can't wait!

I'm glad you're getting a delicious home-cooked meal. You sound in better spirits than you have been in some time, and that's very good to see (read).

Oh, and incidentally, ranch-style beans can be found at Target in the DC area. So says a Texan friend of mine who's been transplanted to DC.

kkryno said...

You can find Ranch Style Beans at Fred Meyer AND Carr's Safeway in Anchorage, Ak. Thank Goodness! I still have to "import" my red chile from New Mexico if I want any kick to my con carne. I do like to make my own beans in the pressure cooker, though. I still am coveting an enameled cast iron soup pot. Maybe someday...Hhhmmm.
You do sound better, and that's good. :)

Brave Sir Robin said...

Dcup - How are the winters in Georgia? Not a lot of snow and ice, right?

Anne - pisto con chorizo sounds much better than my little fake chili. On the bright side, the boy's palates are getting more sophisticated, so who knows?

kkryno - Really!?? That's good to know. So how come I can't buy brown bread and Moxie down here? hmmph. btw - There was a time in Dylan's life when he was a very, very picky eater. He pretty much lived off Ranch Style Beans for about 6 months.

Bee said...

I'm so glad that you posted this! Of course, we've had the weather to eat chili all summer long . . . and so my soup pot never gets put away. But I am always up for comfort food.

What do you recommend as a sub for Ranch beans?

Brave Sir Robin said...

Bee - plain canned pintos, (rinsed and drained) are fine.

I could do soup every day. It's really about my favorite thing to cook.

GourmetGoddess said...

I adore autumn - followed by winter and then summer and spring. I loathe spring. I think it smells like dead fish and rot. But I love fall - apples and pumpkins and chilly nights that are good for snuggling with your chosen snuggle device and/or person. I don't even dislike winter, although some winters are better than others. Last winter was a hard hard winter and I hope we get a little bit of gentleness this year....

Bee said...

BSR, if only. They don't have canned pinto beans in England!!!

I did notice, yesterday, that there is something called "chilli beans" in the organic section. I was in a big hurry at the time, but I will check them out and report back.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Bee - I forgot! You told me that! Actually, any bean could do - the original recipe only called for red beans, I added the others to make it healthier.