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When my candidate, Barack Obama, was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, a snow storm covered most of North Carolina. It was quite beautiful in the Triangle area, with branches laden with fluffy white powder. It was also very cold.
But what a spectacular day to witness such a welcome change for our country.
I was prepared for the cold, and prepared to spend hours watching the inaugural activities on TV. I had stacked wood inside the night before, and started a huge batch of chili in my new cast iron pot that was a Christmas present from the hubby.
Chili is one of the favorite things our new president likes to cook and eat. Aha! Great for Inauguration Day! I wanted to try a chili with chunks of beef rather than ground beef, and found an inexpensive, lesser cut of steak.
I had to "cure" the pot ahead of time, coating it with vegetable oil, then heating it in a very low oven for several hours. It's a terrific pot, and can even be used in the fireplace, in case we have no electricity due to snowstorms!
As for the chili, it cooked for a couple of hours before I had to let it sit overnight in the fridge. Then, because I had added too much chili powder, I needed to add some more beans to cut the "heat." There was no more room in the pot, so I transferred the chili to a very large crock pot.
And that worked great. I was able to nestle by the fire with my sweetie while we watched the festivities, only occasionally jumping up to give the chili a stir. By the time Obama was sworn in, we were enjoying the celebration of change, and, our chili. What a grand day!
RECIPE - INAUGURAL CHILI
Make it as spicy as you like. It needs to simmer for at least four hours to make the beef chunks tender.
Serve in large bowls with crisp tortilla chips, or cornbread, or toast. A salad makes a nice accompaniment.
Serves 6 to 8 with hearty appetites.
2 large onions, chopped
1 large red, orange or green bell pepper, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs beef (I used round steaks), cut into bite-sized chunks or cubes
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
about 1 cup water
4 cups black beans (2 large cans, or mix 1 with a can of red kidney beans)
2 small (14-oz) cans, or 1 large can, chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 Tablespoons Seasoning Mix: equal parts dried oregano and ground cumin, and about half (or equal amount if you like it hot!) hot chili powder or flakes (I used about 2 tablespoons of each, but that was really hot!)
lots of freshly ground pepper, and salt, to taste
1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and stirring occasionally, cook until they begin to soften. (You can chop up the meat while this cooks.) Add bell pepper and stir for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and stir for another minute. Take off heat, and set aside.
2. n a very large, heavy pot, add canola oil and place over medium high heat. When oil is hot enough (should spatter when a piece of beef is added), add just enough beef cubes to not even cover the bottom of the pot. You want to brown each piece, without any touching, on at least two sides. If crowded the beef will just turn gray and stew, rather than brown, and the aim is to seal the juice in by browning first. Remove the batch of beef cubes with a slotted spatula or spoon, and place in the same pan as the onion mixture. Continue with more batches until all the beef cubes have been browned. It may take six to ten batches. Be patient. This is what makes it taste so good.
3. When all the beef is browned, pour off excess oil and return the pot to the burner. Deglaze the pot by adding the cup of water, and stir all the browned beef particles off the bottom of the pot. This will give the chili a great flavor.
4. Burn heat to low. Add the onion mixture and beef to the pot. Add beans and tomatoes, and stir well. Add seasonings (be conservative, for you can always add more spice, but it's hard to take it away!). If the chili seems too thick, add water, a half cup at a time until you have the desired consistency.
5. Once mixture starts to boil around the edges, lower heat until just a simmer.
6. Simmer chili for at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. You might want to transfer the mixture to a crock pot, as I did. It's best when the beef cubes are so tender that they almost disintegrate. You might have to add more water if it gets too thick. You decide. Taste for seasonings.