March 18, 2009

Chili with Beef and Turkey

Yesterday was the annual MJF Chili Cookoff at school - something I've been anticipating since I reached the bottom of my last bowl of chili a year ago.  It's a fundraiser to bring in grant money for one of our lucky classmates who lands a summer job through the Minnesota Justice Foundation.  More importantly, it's an excuse for a bunch of law students and faculty to show off their chili cooking skills.  Maybe I should get my priorities straight...

I'm a little indecisive, so I went back and forth trying to decide what all was going to go into my chili.  My indecision got the best of me, and I ended up using both beef and turkey and both kidney and pinto beans.  I think it turned out pretty well, although sadly I did not win.  The winning chili was very delicious and very deserving of its honor.  Now onto the cooking!

Here's a list of everything, more or less, that went into it:
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalepenos, chopped
1-1/4 lbs. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground turkey
2 cans kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
2-28oz. cans diced tomatoes
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bottle of beer
6-8 tbsp. chili powder
1-2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
3-4 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Start out by chopping the carrots and celery into fairly small pieces.

Whoa, action shots!  I got a little tripod while my parents were visiting, so I can take sweet pictures like this.  

Remember when I said to chop them into fairly small pieces?  "Fairly small pieces" can be interpreted liberally.  

Next up: jalepenos.  I decided to leave the innards with the outards this time because I was going for a pretty spicy chili, but feel free to leave them out.  

Are you jealous of how uber cool I am with my pink apron and plastic bag covering my hand?  Thought so.  

Extreme close-up on the extreme heat.  

Chop the onion.

And the garlic.  I also chopped up a shallot that I had sitting around.  I'm about to leave town for a week and it would otherwise go to waste, so I thought I'd throw it in.  

Everything is chopped and ready to meet up with some hot oil.  

Before you start cooking, add a little of the spices to the meat.  

I started to think that I had way too much meat, so I made a hamburger and a turkey burger and threw them in the freezer.  

Cooking time has arrived.  Add the onion and garlic to a large pot with a little oil.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions soften a bit.  

Then add the meat, and cook it completely.  I don't know much about Mad Cow Disease, but I know that it is something you don't want to get.  

While the meat is cooking, rinse and drain the beans.  

By the time the meat was done cooking there was a fair amount of juice that had accumulated in the pot, so I carefully poured most of it out.  

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste.  

And throw in some of the spices.  I add them all little by little - especially the chili powder and cayenne.  Just keep tasting it throughout the process and add more as needed.  

Add the chopped carrots, celery, and jalepeno.  It's important to add the carrots and celery towards the beginning since they take the longest to cook.  

Have you ever seen such a colorful pot of chili? 

Finally, add the beans and the booze.  Or if booze isn't your thing you can add some water or chicken broth.  I started out by pouring in half a bottle of Newcastle, and then I slowly added more whenever I thought it needed a little more liquid.  

Let it slowly simmer away until the veggies are tender.  And check the spices again before serving.  

You're a winner to me, chili.  Whoa.  Let's pretend I never said that.  I need to go to bed.  It's been a very long day.  

I made some mini pb sammys to go with the chili.  Aren't they cute?  

FYI - I probably won't be posting for the next week or so.  In 5 hours I'll be on the road to Florida for my spring break.  Woo!  Panama City Beach!  Girls Gone Wild!  Ok, maybe not.  We'll be in some small down building a dream home, and hopefully spending our down time laying on the beach.  And eating some BBQ in Nashville on the way.  I can't wait.  

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