Monday, October 3, 2011

Classic Beef Chili with Honey Cornbread Muffins

Yes, it's fall. I know it for sure because the leaves are changing colors and there is a chill in the air that requires slippers on my cold kitchen floor. Hooded sweatshirts have been pulled from the closet, smokey bonfires fill the night air, and best of all there is a big pot of hearty beef chili simmering on the stove top. Yup, the wonderful MN fall season has arrived!

Chili can be quite the conversation starter as there is not one chili "like" someone else's. Each and every one can be very different from the next, even with the same recipe. Now, truth be told, in this chili everything is a "guesstimation." (Guesstimation is also known as "an estimate close to the amount listed," or the "I love [insert your favorite ingredient] so I threw in a ton more" method of cooking.) This is common in my soup and chili recipes because you really can't mess it up if you add in more of what you love and omit things you don't. So please, take this recipe as a guide and throw in a "little more of this" and a "little less of that" as you see fit.

Here is another truth about this chili... it isn't mine. It's my counterpart's. (Don't worry, I got his permission to post this!)  That being said, I am his most honest food critic and this chili is well-worth saying, "see ya later" to summer and "hello to 'chilier' weather".

Todd's Classic Beef Chili
Yield: Enough to feed a small country... seriously, get out the biggest pot you can find. 

3 lbs. ground beef (We have substituted pheasant and chicken. Both work fine!)
2 teaspoons steak seasoning (Todd uses Famous Dave's, but any would work!)
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons MAGGI seasoning (MAGGI is an Asian flavoring sauce found in the international aisle of your local supermarket)
2 tablespoons of basil
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
2-3 large jalapenos, finely chopped (if desired)
2 16-oz. cans Bush's spicy hot chili beans
1 16-oz. can of northern beans
1 16-oz. can of large butter beans
1 22-oz. can tomato juice (Spicy V8 juice can be substituted for a little extra kick)
2 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1-2 15 oz. cans tomato puree (add to desired consistency)
1 10-oz. can beef broth
5 T. hot and spicy BBQ sauce
2 T. Kahlua (Don't omit this. It really makes a difference!)
2 T. worcestershire sauce

Combine ground beef, steak seasoning, chili powder, black pepper, cumin, MAGGI, basil, and garlic powder in a pot and mix well. Cook until the ground beef begins to turn a crusty brown, stirring frequently. Add celery, onion, green pepper, and jalapeño. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add un-drained chili beans, tomato juice, un-drained tomatoes, tomato puree, broth, BBQ sauce, Kahlua, and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Simmer until the desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally.

Simmer at least 2 hours before serving. For the best flavor results, simmer 4 hours or longer.

Ladle into chili bowls. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, minced onion, and a corn bread muffin. (Recipe follows).

You will, without a doubt, love the wonderful peppery, garden fresh aroma lingering through every room of your house. What could be better than that? Well, maybe a fresh out-of-the- oven cornbread muffin? Did that just make it better? It did, didn't it?  These tasty, yet simple muffins are the perfect side dish for your chili. Do yourself a favor... make a double batch so you're not disappointed when the first one disappears.

Honey Cornbread Muffins
Yield: Twelve (12) standard muffins or Twenty-Four (24) Mini Muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
Equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup standard or 24 mini muffin tin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 -20 minutes, or until golden.

Entertaining? Here's a tip:
Chili is a great option for serving a small or large crowd because it's cheap, easy, and is a great way to entertain "buffet" style with a "build your own bowl" chili bar. Even better, you're not stuck behind the stove and all the work can be done days in advance! Your home will smell great and your guests will leave happy!

Happy fall cooking! - The Little Bitchin Kitchen

The chili is a modified version of Famous Dave's Route 66 Truck Stop Chili
Cornbread muffins:; originally from Down Home with the Neely's
Photos Sources:  Chili -; Cornbread Muffins -