Thursday, November 3, 2011

Easiest. Chili. Ever. Except It's Really Taco Mix. (I won't tell if you won't.)

Problem:  My chili-from-scratch is inconsistent (Cause of problem:  I really like cumin.  I even brought some back from a trip to Morocco last year.  So I keep adding more. And more.  And then even I won't eat it. And, c'mon, I'm half-Italian from Boston, what do I know about making chili? You want a marinara?  You got the right girl.)

Remember that Taco flavoring packet (my) mom used for make-your-own-tacos? A few weeks ago one of those little packets of goodness caught my eye at the grocery store. I thought, yes!  But now I reflexively check the ingredients. They included: maltodextrin, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and ethoxoquin. Pass. (*sniff*  It was like finding out the Velveteen Rabbit all along had been stuffed with some flammable, toxic fiber fill.)

Make no mistake, when I want a Filet-o-Fish and fries, I ignore whatever sludge I am putting into my body because I want to and I cannot immediately see the actual ingredients. The issue arises when the ingredient list is right there where I can't ignore it.  And if I see words I do not recognize as anything edible, thank you, Michael Pollan, I gotta put it down and back away slowly  (and, in this case, go back to using too much cumin).

Solution: Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning Mix!
I took a chance on this good looking stranger, and I recognized all the ingredients! None of which included the words hydrolized, hydrogenated or partially oxygenated syrupificationizationated.

I trust their cumin distribution.  it's a wonderfully balanced mix of spices.  1/2 package to one pound of meat.  Full package for spicy.  First time I used 3/4 package on 1 lb of meat.  My DV (husband, those are his initials)  ate slightly more than half.  So this time I made more than 2 lbs and used 2 packets, plus the leftover packet from a week or two ago.

Here's my ultra easy take on what is written right on the packet of spice (Six servings):
1 1/2 T canola or veggie oil (I use canola)
1 medium onion, diced (or more if you like onions like I do)
1 lb of lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
1/2-1 packet of flavoring (Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning -- buy a bunch and keep em around)
1 15 oz can of beans, drained and rinsed (I have tried it with pinto and kidney -- pinto wins, a little softer and smaller than the kidneys right out of the can, but both are good.  Black or white/great northerns would be yummy, too.)
1 32 oz can of diced tomatoes and their juices

Heat oil in havey skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add chopped onions.  Saute til translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add meat and the seasoning. Break up meat and stir continually over HIGH heat for 5 more min until meat is browned.
Reduce heat to medium. Pour in the tomatoes, and the rinsed beans.  Mix well.
Allow liquid to come to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes. Allow liquid to reduce.

Add chiles if you like.

Serve over rice, or a tortilla, with any toppings including cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, guac, avocado, or fat free Greek yogurt (just like sour cream except really good for you).

I turn it off, put the cover on partially, and let it stand for 30+ minutes and the pot keeps it hot.
Remember, I doubled the recipe so this shows twice the ingredients that you need. I made a double batch this time so I would have a fighting chance of some leftovers.

YUM!!  It was so good!  So are the leftovers! I am planning a photo parade of leftovers for you!  

Hooray for Friday!  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!
Yours, with just the right amount of cumin (this time),

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