California Central Coast Recipes
Chili - Sue's Own Hardy Mediterranean Style
Chili - and the Southwest goes back a couple centuries or so, when times were pretty uncivilized and conditions rough for the traveling cowboys and gold-prospectors. Back then it was a stew of beef, and a type of chili peppers (grown wild on bushes along the trail in Texas) with sometimes a little tomato and beans added. Several "original" recipes are said to come from the San Antonio, Texas area. The one thing all the recipes had in common was the use of Mexican chilies.
"Chil-Sue's Own Hardy Meditterranean Style," is a totally differnt version that is much more civilized and made with vegetables, applewood smoked uncured bacon and ground round steak. Because it is mainly made with vegetables with bacon and ground beef thrown in, I consider this more a Mediterranean Diet influenced entree. But one thing that this recipe has in common with the "original chili," is that it's still a low-cost meal for those on a budget. The addition of the applewood smoked bacon really sets this chili apart from the crowd. Its flavor is so mellow and digestively agreeable, it tastes like it's been cooked for a couple days rather than hours.
If you have a food processor, the preparation is doable in a half hour. Otherwise if you're cutting everything by hand, you need to double the prep time.
We like to serve this with thinly sliced toasted peasant bread instead of Saltine-style crackers. Served this way with a salad, makes this chili a very healthy but robust meal.-Especially good on cold winter days.
Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
2 Tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces (about 4 slices) Applewood smoked uncured bacon or similar bacon ,diced
2 Extra-large white onions , thinly sliced
5 to 6 Medium Garlic cloves , chopped
1-3/4 Pounds round beef ,ground
4 Medium-sized green peppers , seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 Large red peppers , seeds removed and thinly sliced
3-1/2 Large Jalapeño peppers(depending on heat strength) , seeds removed and thinly sliced
3 14.5 ounce cans tomatoes (reduced sodium) , partially drained and coarsely chopped
4 14.5 ounce cans(Salt-reduced) Kidney Beans , rinsed and drained
1 to 3 teaspoons Chili powder (depending on personal taste and strength of chili powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 In a large stockpot (with cover) heat olive oil over medium-low heat Add in bacon and saute until lightly cooked (three minutes or so), stirring often.
2 Add in sliced onions and as you add them to the pot, separate the ring segments. Stir well to combine with olive oil and bacon. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often.
3 Add in the garlic, and stir well. When the garlic gives off a nice fragrance, add in the ground beef. Stir frequently picking up everything from the bottom of the pan and redistribute evenly.
4 When the beef loses its color and becomes light brown, add in the green peppers and stir. Then add it the red peppers and stir well distributing the peppers throughout the onion-pepper mixture.
5 Add in the Jalapeños according to personal taste.
6 When all the vegetables that are in the pot are well softened and cooked down somewhat, add in the tomatoes and stir well.
7 Add in the kidney beans and stir well to combine throughout the mixture.
8 Add in the chili pepper according to taste. Then stir well and add the salt and pepper.
9 Cover and bring to a steady simmer. When the chili is up to an easy boil, turn down the heat a bit and simmer on low, partially covered, giving a good stir now and then.
10 Let cook for at least one hour then taste chili and correct seasonings. Then let cook for another hour if possible,
11 Serve in soup bowls.
Serve with toasted thinly sliced peasant bread such as a Pugliese or Ciabatta. Accompanied by a salad and a glass of Sangiovese wine, you're set to have a fun lunch or dinner!