CHILI? CHILLI?! CHILLY!! NO, WAIT…

Friends, there is nothing that I love more than a great, hearty dish on a cold winters day. Albeit, itis supposedly spring, not winter, but with all that fog we had last week I felt like I was in the thick of winter. Get it? Thick as in how dense that fog was? No? Never mind…

I love being so close to the ocean on days like these. That blanket of beautifully eerie fog covering everything in sight kind of makes me feel, in a weird way, cozy.

I also love when the fog is so dense that I can’t see any of the neighbouring islands or the mainland. It sorta feels like living on the edge of the world, doesn’t it?

ANYWAYS, since I’m still on the job hunt and have oodles of free time on my hands, I thought it’d be nice to cook up some chili along with crusty homemade bread. ~salivating~

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I found a nice chili recipe from Girl Gone Gourmet and a simple bread recipe from Food.com. I’ve kinda been on a cooking/baking bender since I’ve been home (re: no job) so I already had all the ingredients handy. However, since we are Local Loves Nanaimo, I’d encourage you to pick up some, or all(!), of your fresh ingredients from local farms or independent grocery shoppes. Suggestion: pick up your beef from Springford Farm!

Ok, let’s get down to business. First, I started off with my bread, as the yeast, and then dough, needed plenty of time to proof. All you need for this recipe is some yeast, warm water, salt, veggie oil (I used canola), sugar (I used brown), and bread flour.

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First, you gotta get that yeast right. To do so, dissolve your yeast in some warmish water with your sugar. After 10 minutes it should foam up similar to the consistency of a cappuccino. Then add your salt, oil, and 3 cups of flour. Beat for two minutes.

Stir in the remaining flour until stiff. Then knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or, if you’re lucky to have a stand-up mixer like me, just affix the hook attachment and let the machine do all the work!

When your dough is smooth and elastic-y put it into an oiled bowl, turning the dough to cover all sides with oil as well, and cover with a tea towel to let it proof. You’re looking for the dough to double in size, so as it does that, we can get started on the chili.

Now, I have to preface this by saying that I used Girl Gone Gourmet’s recipe more as a guide. I mean, that’s one of the great things about a dish like chili right? But one thing I would like to point out is that the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of chili pepper. I used 2 tbsps and let me tell you, that shit had kick. SO. If you’re not a spice lover, or a lover of the medium-hot spice, 2-3 tbsps is all you need, really. I feel like 1/4 cup would give you an instant ulcer.

Ok, first up, chop your onion and fry off in a large pot, with canola/veggie oil, on medium heat. After they’ve softened and become translucent add some pepper.

Btw, onions are my worst friend. Always making me cry and sh*t:

Look at that OPT (one perfect tear)Look at that OPT (one perfect tear)

Next, add your spices. So chili and garlic powder. I also added some ginger powder and some ground cumin.

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Then add your ground beef and fry until brown.

Now it’s tomato time. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (I used crushed). Then mix in your beans. We used Unico’s bean medley as it has a nice mix of beans, but really any (and all) beans will do. Kidney beans, white beans, navy beans, black-eyed beans, lentils… Go crazy!

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The best thing for chili is to let it simmer for as long as you can. Ideally, you want to let it simmer for at least two hours, more if you can!

So now that your chili is stewing away, it’s time to get back to your bread! First, check to make sure your dough has risen to double its size:

If you’re unsure if it’s ready, stick your finger into the dough and if an indent of your finger stays, it’s good to go. If the indent bounces back, it needs to proof a little while longer.

Nice! Ok, now for the fun part. Punch, PUNCH!, your dough down and divide in half. Shape your dough into two long, slender loaves.

Now, mine wouldn’t exactly be what you called long and slender. More like short and stout. But it all tastes the same, right?! Grease a cookie sheet (or french bread pan, if you’ve got one) and sprinkle with cornmeal. I didn’t actually do this. I used greased parchment paper on a cookie sheet and forgot the cornmeal. Oh well, c’est la vie. Finally, snip diagonal gashes into the tops of your loaves for a ~professional~ look. At least I’m assuming it’s for looks. Does it help baking?

Pop those bad boys into the oven at 375ºF and bake for ~30 minutes. Tip: if you want a really crunchy crust, spray/sprinkle your bread with water while it bakes.

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I’m actually like so proud of myself for making bead. I mean, the recipe was so easy that i’ll no doubt be making this again in the future.

Once it’s done, and you can command some self-control, cover the bread with a tea towel to keep warm. I was able to sort of time it out so that my bread and chili were ready to serve at the same time.

Both the chili and the bread went over big in my family – my mom loves having me home right now as I cut down on the amount of meals she has to cook every week!

Do you love a hearty chili on a grey day? Anything special you like to add to your chili? I’d love to know, so drop a comment below!

– Sean

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