By Kathryn Matthews
On a raw, bone-chilling afternoon, hinting of yet another snowstorm to come, I suddenly found myself craving chili. Not vegetarian chili. Nope, mere cooked kidney beans wouldn’t do. This kind of frigid cold sparked a primal hunger for something meaty, savory and warming.
In Manhattan, we live two blocks away from a year-round farmers market—now down to three stalwart vendors who truck in on Wednesdays and set up shop. Out of habit—and loyalty—I peruse all the stands.
At Samascott, three coolers of grass-fed beef caught my attention. On impulse, still in the grips of chili fever, I splurged—$9—on 1.1 pounds of grass-fed Angus ground beef. I’m a firm believer and supporter of buying local. But $9? The steep price tag gave me pause. After the holidays, I’m a total frugalista.
Upstate, we always buy pasture-raised meat and poultry directly from a farm around the corner from our house—but, it’s a few dollars less. I understand, however: that’s the price City dwellers pay to get the good stuff delivered closer to their doorstep.
By “good stuff”, I mean that a little grass-fed beef goes a long way toward good health. Unlike feedlot-raised cattle, grass-fed beef is lean: lower in total fat and calories, it contains higher amounts of omega-3s, an essential fatty acid—and “good fat” —typically associated with salmon. Pasture-raised cattle pass along the benefits of their grass-muching to us: 60% of fatty acids in grass are omega-3. And omega 3-rich diets are rich in Vitamin E, heart friendly, brain friendly (research suggests less incidence of depression, ADD and Alzheimer’s), and linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
So, I handed over $9 wordlessly and vowed to make the best chili…ever.
With my chipotle-spiked grass-fed beef chili, I think I came pretty close.
You can let me know.
Chipotle Grass-Fed Beef Chili
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (to brown the beef)
1 pound grass-fed Angus ground beef
1 pound dried red kidney beans, quick-cooked in advance
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 large jalapenos, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced in food processor
6 organic carrots, peeled, and minced in food processor
2-3 tablespoons chipotle powder, divided
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
28 oz BioNature (or other low-sodium brand) crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Red onion, finely chopped
Cilantro, finely chopped
P.S.: We love Maple Hill Creamery grass-fed whole-milk yogurt for a delicious sour cream effect.
To cook the beans:
It’s best to use fresh dried red kidney beans for best results. I like to cook the beans in advance, using the quick soak method. Place clean rinsed beans in a Dutch oven (deep pot) and cover with at least 3 inches of cold water. Cover the pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for at 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (calculate less time the longer you boil). Drain and rinse well under cold water. Use immediately, or refrigerate.
To cook the chili:
In a large Dutch oven, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low flame. When oil sizzles, add ground beef and cook over low heat, until browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to another bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the residual meat juice. When oil begins to sizzle, add onions. Saute over low or medium-low heat about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until onions have softened and are somewhat browned and caramelized (but not burnt).
Add jalapenos, garlic, chili powder, 1 tablespoon chipotle powder and 1 tablespoon cumin. Continue sauteing until mixture begins sticking to the pan. Add minced red pepper, 1-2 tablespoons chipotle powder, 1 tablespoon cumin and oregano, cooking 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, stirring until well blended.
Add beans, stirring into the mixture. Then, add crushed tomatoes and 3 cups of water. Bring to a roiling boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook about an hour—keep checking: it may be a little more or a little less. The beans should be firm, not mushy. Stir every 10-15 minutes while it cooks.
Add back ground beef, cover, and cook at low heat for another 10-15 minutes. Uncover, add cinnamon, and simmer until most of liquid has evaporated.
Season with kosher or sea salt-to-taste.
Serve topped with chopped red onion, chopped cilantro and a large dollop of plain yogurt, with a side of brown rice.