At the farmers market on Saturday, the woman selling tomatoes reported that for years, she fought off Vicious Tomato Fiends aka Box Turtles. Even one turtle, she said, can ravage a good garden because it will reach up, take one bite, then move onto the next tomato and take another bite! Don't turtles know about the Clean Plate Club?! Or food waste?
Anyway our garden must be turtle-free because it's still producing Roma tomatoes like crazy. Last week we picked a huge basketful and I wanted to use a bunch, asap. Here's what I learned:
Yes, fresh tomatoes make a great chili – no better than canned tomatoes but still, a great chili. If you have lots of tomatoes to use up, yeah, for sure, make chili. But chili made with fresh tomatoes isn't much different than chili made with canned tomatoes.
A great chili topped with really good fresh garden tomatoes? Now that's special! We loved how the deep/dark/spicy/spiced chili contrasted with the cool/wet/fresh tomatoes. Gorgeous, will totally do this again!
Oh and before I forget. About that meat? A Note to Vegetarians.
RECIPE for FRESH-TOMATO CHILI
Cooking time: 2 - 6 hours
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 12 cups
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
Generous grind, freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 medium tomatillos, chopped fine
3 ears corn, kernels only (how to cut corn off the cob)
1 quart beef stock
Chopped fresh tomato
Chopped fresh avocado
CHILI SPICES Stir spices together in a bowl.
CHILI In a large Dutch oven, cook meat until beginning to brown; there should be enough fat in the ground beef that it shouldn't stick but if it does, add a splash or two of water. Add the onion and green pepper, let cook, stirring often, until onions begin to turn color; don't rush this step, rich flavor is the reward of the patient! Once the meat is brown and the onions are turning golden, stir in the Chili Spices, distributing evenly.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomatillos and corn and bring to a boil. Add beef stock and bring back to a boil.
TO "SLOW COOK" ON THE STOVE If your stove can maintain a slow simmer, this is a great option and your house will smell great! Cover the Dutch oven and let simmer on very low heat, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure it's not simmering too hard/too little, about 2 - 3 hours. Uncover and and let simmer until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency.
TO "SLOW COOK" IN THE OVEN If your stove is too hot to maintain a slow simmer without burning, cover the Dutch oven and place the chili in an oven heated to 200F/100C. Let "slow cook" for 4 - 6 hours. Uncover the chili and let continue slow cooking in the oven until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency; to hurry this process, you can put the chili back on the stove and let simmer with the lid off on low heat, stirring often to prevent the bottom from burning.
TO COOK IN A SLOW COOKER Transfer chili to a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for an hour, then on low for 4 - 6 hours. Uncover the chili and let continue to cook in the slow cooker for an hour or so until the chili has reduced to the desired consistency.
However the chili has been cooked, cover and refrigerate until the next day, allowing flavors to meld.
TO SERVE Rewarm the chili. Ladle into bowls, top with fresh tomatoes and avocado cubes.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Most chilis really do better made one day and served the next.
LEFTOVERS The leftover reheat beautifully, just rewarm for a minute or two in the microwave.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
This chili is pretty spicy, not "hot" but spicy. For tamer palates, you might cut the spices in half.
We like our chili thick, more like a stew than a soup, so I let it reduce quite a bit. You might like it thinner or for it to go further, if so, just reduce it as much as you want.
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TIS THE SEASON! MORE FAVORITE CHILI RECIPES~ Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle ~
~ Vegan Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ Quick Green Chile Stew ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Chillin': Favorite Chili, Chowder & Cornbread Recipes ~
~ Chocolate Chili ~
~ Crockpot Chili with Spicy Sausage ~
~ White Chicken Chili ~
~ more chili recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSNoodles with Sour Cream Spinach with Nutmeg Easy Sweet Pepper Soup Rich Tomato Orange Soup Survivor Soup Broccoli & Tomato Thai Curry Spicy Carrot Puree with Harissa Pumpkin Bars Sautéed Okra & Garlic Smoked Scallops with Zucchini Ribbons One-Skillet Cauliflower with Cheese Pumpkin Dip Supper Casserole with Pumpkin & Green Chile Cornbread Topping (< great fall supper!) My Favorite Way to Roast Beets (< people love this technique!) Favorite Pumpkin Recipes (< that time of year!) Roasted Whole Red Onions with Sweet Potatoes & Rosemary Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Orange
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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