Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Chili

Chili represents your three stages of matter: solid, liquid, and eventually gas. –Dan Conner, from the TV series Roseanne, "Don't Make Me Over," May 1992

Chili on Halloween is a tradition in our family. It started a really long time ago with my grandparents. We happened to be over showing our costumes to them while they were having a chili dinner with my mom's three sisters and we wanted some. They made what they had go around and the next year they made a bigger pot of chili. Word got around and the crowd on Halloween grew. Sometimes my cousins would come, sometimes my uncle from Las Vegas would drive up, and every year we'd have chili for dinner on Halloween. There would be trays and trays of breadsticks baking in the oven, two kinds of Jell-O {orange and green; we're big on Jell-O in Utah}, saltines, apple cider and milk. And doughnuts after. You can't forget the doughnuts after.

The tradition continued for many years {perhaps 15 or so}. My grandparents would make the chili the day before and then on Halloween they'd put the big pot of chili inside an even bigger pot filled with water so that it could simmer from late morning on through the afternoon without scorching. Family would come and go starting in late afternoon and into the evening for Halloween chili. As the years passed, the pot of chili got bigger as the grandkids started bringing their spouses and then their own kids. Several years we got to bring some leftover chili home in a quart jar to have later.

Since Grandma passed away Halloween Chili hasn't been as regular of a tradition. It was a couple of years before we even mentioned doing it. We've only done it a handful of times since 2003 and it just isn't the same without her. This year I decided to do my own Halloween chili for the four of us at Bug Cottage, complete with breadsticks and Jell-O {but only one kind} and apple cider. I think this is one tradition I'm going to keep going and perhaps when I'm 75, I'll have a houseful on Halloween for chili.

One Big Pot of Chili
2¼ lbs. ground beef
½ cup finely chopped green pepper {about ½ of a large pepper}
1 cup finely chopped onion {about 1 medium}
1 cup water
1 packet {1.48 oz} chili seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cans {6 oz. each} tomato paste
2 cans {15 oz. each} chili-ready or Mexican stewed tomatoes
1 can {28 oz.} petite diced tomatoes in tomato juice
6 cans {15 oz. each} chili beans

• In a 10-quart stock pot brown ground beef with green pepper and onion. Drain off excess grease.
• Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk chili seasoning packet and chili powder into water; stir in tomato paste. Run the 2 cans of chili-ready tomatoes through the food processor, blender or food chopper so that there are no huge chunks of tomatoes left; add to seasonings in the mixing bowl.
• Add the tomatoes and seasonings from the mixing bowl plus the can of petite diced tomatoes {with their juices} and the chili beans {with their sauce} to the ground beef in the stock pot; stir to combine.
• Refrigerate chili overnight.
• Bring chili to a boil stirring often; reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 4 hours stirring occasionally, until it is as thick as you'd like.

Serves 16

Notes:
• I usually simmer the chili with the lid on. That way you can use a lower temperature setting and avoid scorching the chili to the bottom of the pot.
• I used Lawry's chili seasoning, but there were several other brands available. I probably picked it because it was the least expensive. Any brand will do, but you may have to adjust your spices a bit. This one was heavy on the cumin, so I added a good amount of chili powder to balance it out.
• Why make such a huge pot of chili? Because it freezes really well and then I don't have to do it again for while. We're going to have chili dogs, baked potatoes with chili on top and Navajo tacos in the next 10 days or so. I divided out portions for each into sandwich-size ziplock baggies, as well as filling a couple of quart-size ziplocks for a chili dinner again in a month or two.
• This is pretty mild chili. I don't like it hot, so if you like it spicy, season to taste with red pepper flakes, or different or more peppers.

Chicken Chili
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cloves garlic
½ cup onion, finely chopped
3 cans {15 oz. each} Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed and divided
3 cans {14½ oz. each} chicken broth {or 6 cups water and 6 cubes chicken bouillon - not dairy-free}
2 tablespoons Southwest Seasoning
2 limes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

• Heat oven to 350˚. Place chicken in a 9 x 9 baking dish and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Place garlic cloves on top of chicken and cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes — just until chicken is not longer pink in the middle. Refrigerate chicken and garlic until completely cool. Once chicken has cooled, shred.
• Juice limes to yield ¼ cup of juice.
• Drain and rinse 1 can of beans; transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Gently squeeze garlic from their papery skins into the beans in the bowl; mash with a potato masher. Drain and rinse remaining 2 cans of beans and set aside.
• Heat ¼ cup chicken broth in a 4-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 to 5 minutes, until onion is tender. Add chicken, mashed bean-garlic mixture, whole beans, remaining chicken broth, Southwest Seasoning and lime juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
• Combine cornstarch and water, stirring until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to chili and continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
• If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole and shredded cheese.

Serves 8

Notes:
Southwest Seasoning provides the best flavor for this recipe. It is totally worth paying shipping charges to order a container of it. Trust me on this. You can, however, substitute on packet of Chicken Taco Seasoning {not dairy-free} or 1½ teaspoons cumin for the Southwest Seasoning.

You might also like:
Two-Bean Chicken Chili

7 comments:

Angie said...

I always make my chili in the crock pot (shocking I know). I brown the meat and just throw everything in, set it on low and it is ready at dinner time. You could try that, then you really don't have to worry about the bottom burning...

Helsie said...

OK so it's Halloween here tonight and even though we don't really do Halloween here in Oz much I'll give the chilli a go for dinner tonight. Thanks for all the recipes, I'll see what I can find
Cheers
Helen

Marg said...

Elizabeth those recipes look really great, BUT, where am I going to get Southwest Seasoning here? Ah I think I've just found a recipe for it on foodnetwork, a recipe by Emeril, hope it's the same or very similar.

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

Traditions are wonderful things arent they? we have a Chrostmas breakfast meal that we've been having since I was a kid. Special occasions call for a liberal dose of tradition. Good on your for making Halloween chili-fest Elizabeth style.

P. said...

I love that you are resurrecting the Halloween chili tradition. Your One Big Pot recipe is a lot like mine with one exception--that's a whole lot of beans, girl! You must be a very musical family. :)

Ivory Spring said...

It's our tradition too, Elizabeth! :)

Mom P said...

I was so glad to hear that you were having your own chili supper. My sisters and grandpa had theirs on Saturday evening, grandpa thought we were all coming. The kids and grandkids who live near came on Sunday to my house for chili and all the trimmings and I think the Idaho bunch did their own chili supper too! We love our Halloween chili tradition.