Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beef and Bacon Chili

It happened today. There was a chill in the air, a breeze, and the heat wave finally broke. Temperatures were in the 90's yesterday but today will fall to the 80's. Autumn is finally here! I’ve been so longing for this moment, to enjoy all of those wonderful fall foods I start itching for in September. In fact, I’ve been so anxious, I’ve made some silly menu choices. I made soup last week on a 95 degree day and determinedly sipped the hot broth while beads of sweat broke out of my face. Well, starting today, I won't have to suffer thus anymore!

Chili may be the ultimate fall food, and I’ve made many in my days, mostly vegetarian, but this one is different. It is clearly a carnivore's dream, which is a bit out of character for me. But having some quality bacon to use up, and grass-fed beef and bell peppers from the farmer’s market, I couldn’t resist trying this hearty chili. My husband pointed out that it would be amazing on a chili dog, and as odd as that may sound, he's totally right. I LOVED the addition of lime and avocado to this chili, plus chives and tomatoes from the garden. I decreased the amount of meat, I’ll admit, and I thought our version was just right. Happy Fall to all!

Beef and Bacon Chili
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder blend (you know, the stuff that has cumin, coriander, cayenne, etc.)
1 lb. Lean ground beef
2 (16 oz) cans black beans, drained
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
Kosher salt, to taste
2 limes, cut into wedges

Optional Condiments:
Tomatoes, diced
Avocado, diced
Chives, chopped
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Shredded cheese

Fry bacon in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes.
Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, and chili powder, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes.
Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened.
Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.


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