Friday, March 6, 2009

The michael5000 Kitchen #4: “Chili”

Provenance: Unknown. Several pieces of evidence point towards this being a creation of my own devising. The ingredients are inexpensive, bland, and pedestrian, which fits my culinary budget and tastes to a tee… well, at any time really, but especially during the lean years from 1989 to 1992. In any event, I have clear memories of making this dish quite often during my first year of graduate school, 1991-1992.

A Word: I understand that there are those who “take chili seriously.” I also understand that those people, and probably many others, would not consider the below to be “chili.” I’m certainly not going to try to defend it.


The Recipe:

2 cups Beans and Lentils, assorted.

Soak [overnight, I meant]

Boil an hour – check [to made sure the beans are edible, I meant]

Add 1½ cups Macaroni

Boil another 15 minutes and drain.

Add:

2 16-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 packet Chili Mix
1 ton Oregano
Add, according to mood, any of these:

Olives
Mushrooms
Green [Bell] Peppers
Red [Bell] Peppers
[I think the idea was that the heat of the boiled Beans is enough to melt the cheese and heat the Tomato Sauce and other ingredients to a reasonable temperature for consumption with no further heating. This actually seems to work pretty well.]


The Results:

This “chili” tastes like the first year of graduate school. Like, a LOT. Since this makes it hard for me to notice anything else, I turned to Mrs.5000 for an objective opinion. She allowed that it was “OK,” adding that “it doesn’t taste that much different than canned chili. Um, with macaroni in it.”

When I made the test batch, I found that we didn’t have any Bell Peppers or Mushrooms in the house, and I really couldn’t imagine actually putting Olives in it, so we were tasting the stripped down version. Also, the entire house supply of Oregano turned out to be 1 ½ teaspoons, so we fell well short of the “ton” that my young self called for. (I have since replenished our Oregano supply with a big ziplock bag full that I bought from the bulk section at Limbo and labeled “DOPE” in bold letters, in the hope that my mom will find it in our spice cabinet and find it amusing.)

What cracks me up about this recipe now is the idea of going to all the effort of soaking and boiling your own beans, and then throwing in an envelope of “chili mix.” You would think that coming up with a blend of spices would have been the fun part.

And I guess the macaroni part kind of cracks me up too. And incidentally, if you decide to use this recipe yourself, it turns out that it really doesn’t take a full 15 minutes for the macaroni to boil. But you already knew that.

12 comments:

Yankee in England said...

I was laughing to myself when I read the soak overnight-boil for an hour and then saw add the chili mix, I was thinking why the hell did he not just buy tins of beans save time. Tinned beas were probably out of you graduate student budget. At least you did not buy a bulk bag of dope and lable it oregano- that might lead to some fun Chili night though.

Elaine said...

This is....very, very sad. Are you one of the people who feels s/he must suffer for Vegetarianism? Why not just bring back scourging? the rack? (I am going to hunt up one of the Requiems and play it now, while holding you up in prayers.....)

mydogischelsea said...

I was going to say... I love that you bother to cook up the dry beans and then use canned tomato sauce and chili mix (whatever that is)... but you said it yourself.

When you're in the mood to try chili again, I highly recommend this one:

*1 big can of tomatoes
*2 16-oz cans of kidney, pinto or cannelinni beans (really, whatever beans you have in the house... or you could cook up some dry ones)
*1 yam (or a few carrots, but I prefer the yam)
*1 onion
*2-3 cloves garlic
*2 tsp cumin
*1/2 tsp chili powder
*1 bay leaf
*1 tbsp cocoa powder
*salt and pepper to taste

1. Pour tomatoes and beans into pot.

2. Chop onion and mince garlic. Add.

3. Peel and cube the yams (or slice the carrots). Add.

4. Dump in the spices. Add more as necessary.

5. Let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

6. Eat. Especially nice with cheese on top.

Chance said...

You were way too stoned to notice the logical inconsistencies, or the pasta's overboiled consistency.

A very amusing entry, probably because this is your worst-sounding recipe yet.

Jenners said...

OK ... these recipie posts are starting to become my favorite part of your blog ... especially since I'm too stupid for the quizzes!

Rebel said...

I'm with Chance on this one... and you know, this is just one of those college type recipes that make sense in their own way... it tastes of nostalgia.

My roommates and I had a similar 'chili' recipe but it was vastly easier.
1 box store brand mac & cheese (bought on sale 3 for $1 or something like that), and one can of Nally chili (similar sale purchase). Make the mac & cheese according to the box and dump in a can of chili. Fast, easy & yummy.... you know for a boxed & canned dinner

Michael5000 said...

@Yank: You know, I've never checked to see if they carry bulk dope at Limbo. They've got everything else....

@Elaine: Mercy. And yet, wherever there are both beans and cheese together, behold! I suffer not, but am glad in my heart.

@mydog: Mrs.5000 is looking with interest at your chili recipe...

@Chance: Not so! I was a drably serious student, and did not go in for the mind-expanding substances other than the occasional pitcher of cheap 3.2 beer.

@Jenners: I like to think I have something to offer both my smart AND my stupid readers.

@Rebel: Some would say that giving me that recipe is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of gin. But I will be strong.

Elaine said...

Okay, okay. Here is my Bean Soup recipe. I will note modifications for vegetarian CHILI. When you read this (and I apologize for the lack of brevity) you will understand that I believe life is too short to cook bad food.....
A can of beans weighing about 15.5 oz. runs you from $.69 (for pinto beans) to $.95 (for “Roman” beans.) You are getting less than two cups of beans for your money. A pound of dry beans, on the other hand, costs about the same amount.....but when you cook them yourself, you get at least eight servings! You do the math. Add that your own bean soup tastes better, and we can’t see why you would ever buy someone else’s beans again in this life!

Different kinds of beans have individual flavors: Cranberry October beans, Michigan Yellow-Eyes, Jacob’s Cattle....... the basic recipe works for all kinds. Navy beans (or Navy peas) are the “official” bean soup beans, but why would you want to follow the rules? Pinto beans are standard for chili. Cook black beans and serve them on a bed of rice. (Rice plus beans equal a complete protein.) Top them with chopped sweet onion which has been marinated in cider vinegar. This is a Cuban dish. Great Northern beans are a good substitute for Cannellini (for Italian dishes.)

Oh, you might like to have some “Beano” on hand.....though the pre-soaking is supposed to help with this little problem....
Master recipe for bean soup:

The night before: dump the bag of beans into a colander and pick them over. Rinse. Place in deep pot and pour in two quarts of water. Put on a lid and allow to soak overnight. If you forget to soak the beans, use this (comparatively) quick-soak method: pick over and rinse the beans. Place in a deep pot with 2 quarts of water and put on the stove with the burner on High. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off burner and clap on a lid. Allow to sit for one hour. Then proceed with the recipe.

Put 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep saute pan; heat and then add:
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper OR 3 Cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Cook them fairly gently until translucent–don’t allow to brown. This step will take about five to ten minutes, and you can cover the skillet with a lid if you like....but keep the heat low. Then put the veggies in with the drained beans. Precooking your vegetables will improve the flavor of your final product.

Now add :

2 quarts of water
1-2 tsp. salt and a good grinding of fresh black pepper
one dried hot pepper (optional)
a tsp. of marjoram
a tsp. of oregano
a small pinch of thyme
a crushed garlic clove (yes, another one)
FOR CHILI: I would use a large can of diced stewed tomatoes and add water to cover the beans by 1", along with a bag of Four Alarm Chili spice mix. Don't add the separate cayenne packet until you're sure you want that much heat. Add cheese only when you serve the chili.

Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer on Low. The beans take about 2 hours, usually, but check for tenderness after one hour. This is a good time to taste for salt and add more if you wish. To test, take out one bean, blow on it, and bite it. The skin will crack when you blow on it, and the bean will be tender without being mushy. Stir the pot from time to time.
When you think the beans are close to done, check every ten or twenty minutes.

Beans and corn make a complete protein; beans and cornbread are...well, great together. But that's a recipe for another time....

The Calico Cat said...

How funny - I just bought the ingredients for a seriously beany crock pot full-o-chili. (I think that the deviser of my recipe went to the store & bought one can each of every bean available...)

Super simple bean soup...
1 bag 16 bean soup mix
1 or 2 packets onion soup mix
1 onion chopped
several carrots chopped
several stalks celery chopped
water (To taste - more if you like it soupy, less if you want it beany)
cook in your crock pot on low all day.

elaine said...

Ow, ow, ow. Here is what is wrong with "quick fix" cookery: either (a) poor ingredients, or
(b) good ingredients being mishandled

Beans of various sizes and densities cook at different rates. (I never took physics or anything, but gee...c'mon.) Lentils cook more quickly still. Mixes disregard this basic cookery principle. Don't fall for the 16-bean scam.

Vegetable fibers in celery, onions, and carrots also cook differently, and if you hope to preserve any flavor and integrity, you need to treat these individually (as a group apart from the beans.)
I actually advocate bean soup/chili cooked via crock pot--BUT first, you must must must precook the other veggies if you want a good outcome; otherwise, never mind. The crock pot will do a GREAT job as long as you prep your ingredients vs putting them all in and just letting them duke it out. That additional 20 minutes of precooking will make all the difference.
I swear on my old gray Sixty-something head! that this is the truth.
You deserve good bean soup. Or chili.

d said...

ok people. bean soup does not equal chili. chili is a completely different animal. and DOES NOT involve extraneous vegetables! yams and carrots in chili! NO!

vegetables that are acceptable in dishes named chili: onions, tomatoes (of course) and corn. that's it. no celery. no carrots. no yams. no potatoes. no edamame. you might as well just call that shit 'salad.'

Elaine said...

You're right--chili is a MEAT dish. Michael5000 is a vegetarian who secretly lusts for meat, to the degree that he is striving for a dish that will approximate chili. My husband asked why I did not recommend TVP, but I think M5000 has suffered enough, based on the recipe. In my chili-making days I was usually feeding enough people that I included beans, declining to enter the debate about whether they ever belong (except as a side dish.) Celery, equally, adds volume and cooks to the point of being fairly indistinguishable. It beats watering things down, eh?