When I was in college, before college dining halls were paeans to choice, we waited in line to greet the food service ladies as they dished up whatever they had cooked that day. We had dishes like Side of Clyde, Ziti Bake, and Party Rice. Whenever that particular fare was served, my best friend would always say, “Party Rice? Party Rice? This isn’t regular rice! It’s a party!” It was cheesy, but it was funny. The food service ladies would roll their eyes and dish up the Party Rice. Naming this recipe brought back memories of that cafeteria line at St. Olaf College twenty-five years ago.
Chili purists, look away now. This is not a chili that purports to be authentic, bona fide, or pure. It’s a quick, two-pounds-of-ground-beef-and-a-mess-of-vegetables kind of chili, and a good way to work more vegetables into a bowl for your children—or yourself, the kind of chili you might have eaten in a college cafeteria in the early 1980s. (I promise it’s good.) You can give it as much kick or as little as you like. Garnish it with grated cheeses, sour cream, cilantro, lime pickled red onions, salted avocado slices, or a dollop of guacamole.
To seed and derib a pepper, stand it upright on a cutting board. Slice downward with a curving motion from the stem to the bottom. Turn the pepper and continue until you have removed the center core with its seeds. Trim off any fibrous rib that remains. Then cut the pepper into strips and dice them.
To make this chili milder, choose either the chipotle in adobo or the ground dried chile, or reduce each. To make the chili more fiery, increase their quantities.
Look for chipotle in adobo in smalls tins in the Mexican foods aisle.
Yield: about 16 to 20 servings
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 chipotle in adobo, finely minced
¼ c. ground dried chile
1 T. cinnamon
2 poblanos, seeded, deribbed, and diced
1 green pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
1 red pepper, seeded deribbed, and diced
1 yellow pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
1 orange pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
10 ounces frozen corn
28 ounce tin of whole peeled tomatoes (I prefer BioNaturae or Muir Glen.)
28 ounce tin of diced tomatoes (I prefer BioNaturae or Muir Glen.)
15 ounce tin of black beans, drained
15 ounce tin of pinto beans, drained
15 ounce tin of kidney beans, drained
salt and pepper
- Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and brown it over medium heat in a large soup pot. Drain off the excess fat.
- Add the onion and sauté it for a few minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add the chipotle in adobo, chile, and cinnamon, and stir.
- Add the poblanos, peppers, celery, and carrots and stir.
- Drain the juice from the whole tomatoes into the pan, and crush the tomatoes into the pan with immaculately clean hands.
- Add the diced tomatoes and the beans and stir.
- Bring the chili to a simmer. Then lower the heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer, partially covered, for about one hour, stirring occasionally. (In a pinch, it will be edible in about 20 minutes.)
- Add the corn and simmer for an additional five minutes.
- Taste the chili and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
This chili will keep in the refrigerator for about five days.