Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday, Chili Sunday

Jennifer is back on winning with her fantasy football. She is now 6-3, and very happy. I'm happy too because it makes her mood lighter.

We're also both happy because we got a grocery run to Smart & Final in before the games started today, and we got some new chili powder: New Mexican picante. Just opening the bag smelled like a Mexican restaurant. I still used cayenne, but the majority was the picante. And the chili was excellent. I've even got a cottage cheese carton of the sauce left over.

That's a family tradition by the way to store leftovers in cottage cheese cartons. It started with my Papaw Jack who used to work for a dairy company. Somehow it became the thing to store things in the freezer that way, so my parents always had a case of cottage cheese cartons and lids. Now, that was back in the thin and hard plastic days, nowhere near as durable as the current PET 5 containers we get at Trader Joe's.

We used to wash them out and reuse them as much as possible. The part that would usually go bad first was the lid, usually from the flexing when we would open them up fresh from the freezer. It pretty much became a unit of measurement for me growing up because of the things my parents would store in them. They would make ice cream, and store it in the cartons. they would preserve fruit (plums, peaches, apricots, tomatoes) in the cartons. And of course the leftovers from huge batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, or even barbecue sauce.

So I come by it naturally. Jennifer and I began using Baskin Robbins ice cream containers (PET 2), but they've stopped using plastic and have gone to waxed paper containers. You just can't reuse those. So, now we've built up a stack of the containers from TJ's. Maybe next Sunday I'll make me some meat sauce for pasta...

Anyway, for a very simple chili today, I used:

1.5 pounds of ground beef
2 cans of tomato sauce
New Mexican picante chili powder
Cayenne chili powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Sage
Thyme
Ground black pepper
Spaghetti noodles
Cheddar cheese
Saltine crackers
Peanut butter

Brown the ground beef until it's nearly cooked, very little red left. then take it out and rinse it in a large strainer. Rinse it with hot water to wash it out the drain, and this will get rid of a lot of excess fat in the sauce.

Then in another pot put in the two cans of tomato sauce, and then fill each can with water and put that in. This will make the sauce thinner, and more like a soup. Also it gets the last of the tomato sauce out of the can. Turn the heat up to medium, and let it heat up. Then add the meat, and start seasoning. I put in about two tablespoons of each of the chili powders, and then added the rest of the seasonings to taste. You don't really taste much of them, but they add some depth beyond just the chili. I essentially stir the chili powder in, and then just cover the top of the sauce with each of the other seasonings. If you like the texture of cooked onions or garlic (or even diced tomatoes) you can use that, but I like a nice smooth sauce with little meaty bits.

As the sauce begins to boil, turn it down to medium-low, and then lower until it simmer, but is not boiling. This should keep it from burning or bubbling which causes a big mess of splattering tomato sauce. As it simmers keep it covered to prevent it getting too thick. Once it is simmering, you should do multiple tastes to ensure the chili is the right level of spicy hot for you.

Once the chili is the right taste, it's time to boil the spaghetti noodles. You can use what ever size you like, I used spaghettini today because I like thin noodles, but pretty much anything long noodle will work. break it into thirds before boiling it. I did halves today, because I had forgotten that the shorter noodles don't flip and splatter sauce.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and place them in a bowl, filling about half of the bowl. if you like beans or onions in your chili place a layer of them on top of the noodles in the bowl. Then ladle the sauce on top. as a finally topping you can add a layer of grated cheddar cheese on top of the chili.

My finally addition is saltine and peanut butter sandwiches. These are nice to spoon a little chili onto and eat that way. I'd say that's just me and my family, but Jennifer likes it too.

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