As a rabid football fan, I feel some sort of obligation around this time of year (playoff time) to swoop in with a few ideas for what to cook for the big game. Due to a general lack of winning, my team (the Giants) is not participating in the postseason, which means that an extra portion of my enjoyment will have to come from the food. So, let's not overthink it. When I dream of the cold-weather-couch-potato glory of sitting in my running pants watching playoff football and eating something warm and delicious, there's one food that leaps to mind first: chili.
As you know, chili is more of a philosophy than a single, definable dish. Everyone has their own idea of what it is or should (or shouldn't) be: Beans, no beans, ground meat, cubed meat, no meat, dried chiles, powdered chiles, smooth sauce, chunky sauce—you get the idea. The permutations are endless, and I would never dare try to cover them all.
So here's what I've got instead: Two versions of chili that I absolutely love, and that offer something for both meat-eaters and vegans/vegetarians. One is slow-simmered with cubes of beef chuck and dried pinto beans; the other is a meat-free chili where bulgur takes the place of ground beef and provides really great texture, body, and thickening power. You can incorporate all sorts of beans and vegetables if you like, and if you skip the cheese/sour cream garnish, it's totally vegan.
Both of these are incredibly comforting, and, needless to say, they're just as effective when eaten in front of your favorite Netflix show, movie, or nothing at all. The playoff football part is optional (obviously, that's how the Giants feel, too). Have a wonderful weekend.
Here, bulgur takes the place of ground meat, providing body and thickening power. The preparation and cooking are relatively fast and, like most stews, this will taste better the next day. All sorts of vegetables can be incorporated: corn kernels; chopped zucchini, squash, carrots, and/or celery; and more. Add them in Step 1. Beans are not essential, though they can easily be added (see the first variation).
Chili means different things to different people, so this version (with beef chuck and pinto beans) is but one of a hundred possibilities. (For a fast version using ground beef and canned beans, see the variation.) I’ve listed a couple of garnishes I like, but you might want to add grated cheese, pickled or fresh jalapeños, or sour cream. Serve with tortillas, crackers, chips, or rice, and hot sauce.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.