Fire on the Mountain

Matthew turned me onto chili. It was one of the first meals he ever cooked for me. Actually, not true. In our second week of dating, I arrived at his home to discover a pineapple cake. Wow, I thought. I learned a pair of years later that a colleague of his made it. It should be noted that he never took ownership of making it. I never asked. Nevermind these new details, I told myself that he could bake a cake. I knew I had a keeper on my hands with a man who could cook. And clean as well as manage a house. Among a slew of other very wonderful things. Tres romantic and ahead of the times we were. 

I must admit, our varietals have matured over the past five years. Our first rodeo called for a spice packet. No more I said. Too many additives and chemicals therein. Let's rather buy the spices and build an artillery. In the first year of dating, we were less on the meat and more on the beans. I also recall at least three cans of tomatoes. Nowadays, the tables have turned and as of late, we don't even add beans at all. Or diced tomatoes. I like the tomato puree or I mix broth with some red wine and tomato paste. 

As children, growing up, we ate chili once in a blue moon. I recall one dinner where my mother went all out. A piping vessel of meaty chili, a bar set up with toppings and the most gorgeous corn bread one could ever eat. The meal was a resounding success but for whatever reason, it was not on repeat like usual spaghetti bolognese, breaded chicken, apricot chicken, shepherds pie and a few other South African dishes we know by heart. 

Nowadays, I love chili. We eat it once a week. You can make it with any type of beans. Canned, soaked or my beloved, Rancho Gordo variety. Or you can leave the beans out as we are doing now. You can use any type of meat you so fancy. Chicken for white chili, pork shoulder for a rich mix, lamb, bison, turkey and of course, beef. If you want, you can substitute the meat with sweet potatoes and go the vegetarian or even vegan route. You can employ smoky flavors, spicy additions like chilies or jalapeƱos or lend a Mexican flair. Corn anyone? You can even add chocolate. Mole, mole, mole, mole! 

The options are limitless. I love chili as it is a quick meal that we can quickly prep and let it cook while we do more important things. Like enjoy being newlyweds! I like to use chili as an opportunity to sneak different vegetables in. Two weeks ago it was Swiss chard. Sometime before that, dandelion greens. Last week, I had some broccoli rabe that needed using and after a dance with my new paring knife, in it went. Once upon a time I added butternut squash and corn. If you finely chop a hearty mushroom like the portobello, you won't miss the meat. 

Honestly, chili is the perfect kitchen sink meal. To the moon and back hearty, comfort food that can be prepared with a healthy spin. The ideal meal for cheering on our Carolina Panthers. Speaking of, what a game! I marvel at Cam's leadership and command of the stadium, not to mention his team. Smiling, laughing, cheering, dancing, dabbing. What he as well as his team have done for this franchise is inspiring. I had goosebumps last night. Matthew took the train north last night (ice, ice baby) to attend the game with his father. Upon arrival home, he told me that his Dad said, "this is a day I will always remember". Matthew agreed. I like that. Bonding vis a vis the love of the game. Bon appetit and of course, #keeppounding.

Slow Cooker Paleo Chili


2 lbs of meat - we did a beef and pork medley
2 TBS olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Hungarian paprika - or normal paprika
2 healthy dashes of Meyer lemon peel
1 zucchini - pulsed in the food processor
1 yellow squash - pulsed in the food processor
1 red bell pepper - pulsed in the food processor
1 green bell pepper - pulsed in the food processor
1 sweet onion - pulsed in the food processor
3 cloves of garlic - pulsed in the food processor
Bunch of collards / Kale or Swiss chard - pulsed in the food processor
28 oz can of pureed tomato

1 cup of broth

Get Cooking

1. In a big pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. When glistening, add the meat. Now is a good time to throw in all your aromatic spices. Once browned, spoon the meat out and into your slow cooker. Leave the fat behind. Line the bottom of the vessel with the meat.

2. Now in turns, finely chop your garlic, onions and vegetables. Add to the pot. Now pour the pureed tomato and broth on top. Close the lid and cook on high heat for five hours. Once the timer rings, serve into bowls.

You can add a myriad of goodies to the top including but not limited to cheese, shaved radishes, broken blue corn tortilla chips, sour cream, Greek yoghurt, creme fraiche, chopped cilantro, diced scallions or diced avocado. The sky is the limit.

1 comment:

  1. I really love the recipe, it looks really delicious and perfect to have for someone who is diet concious. Thank you for sharing it with us