I caught my first episode of Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" this week... one of the few reality shows I will watch. It was kind of funny to see the local radio host, Jim, really riled up by Jamie's presence in his town. I think he thinks Jamie is going to personally come and take away his deep-fried doughnuts. He's clearly upset and I can't figure out why he feels threatened by Jamie's food program. It's for the kids in the schools... what's his problem with that? It makes Jim look childish.
This week's recipe... Chili. You can do a meatless version of this with a meat-substitute, lentils, or leave the "meat" out altogether. Personally I'm a carnivore, but if I were to go meatless, this would be one of the foods I would miss unless I worked up a meatless version.
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic (or more to taste), minced
1 pound ground beef or two cups textured soybean meat substitute or two cups cooked lentils
1- 32oz can petite diced or crushed tomatoes
1- 16oz can tomato sauce
1- 8oz can SPICY V8 juice
2 Tbs. Chili powder
1 Tbs. chopped jalepeno pepper, or to taste
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
16 oz. kidney beans or black beans (optional, but good)
16 oz can corn (optional, but also good)
Brown ground beef in a dutch oven, and drain the fat. (If you're using a meat substitute, follow the preparation directions and add to the dutch oven. For lentils, add 2 TBS OLIVE OIL.) Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they look translucent and start to take on some color.
Add the garlic, but do not allow it to brown, as it will get bitter. Immediately add the chopped jalepeno pepper, and the tomatoes, sauce, and V8 juice. Stir together, and turn up the heat until it comes to almost a boil, then turn it back down again to a simmer, stirring frequently. Do NOT add beans or corn yet if you are using those options, as they will stick and burn at the bottom of the pan. Season to taste, adding chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper.
Allow to simmer for one hour, stirring every ten to fifteen minutes. At this point you can add the corn and beans. Heat and stir for another ten minutes, or until they're warmed through. Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, or with a sturdy crusty bread.
*End of Recipe*
When I make this myself, I use dried beans, but it takes longer. I take the dried beans, bring them to a boil with lots of water, and simmer them for an hour or until tender. When using dried beans its important NOT to add them to anything containing salt, or salting the water until they have been cooked to tenderness. If you add the salt before they're tender, the way salt acts on moisture doesn't allow water to enter the beans properly, and you end up with "bullet beans" as I call them. So make them tender first, then flavor them however you like.