Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chili (with noodles)

Warning: this is not a purist’s version of chili.

Growing up, chili meant the meat and bean combo poured over a generous portion of elbow macaroni topped with oyster crackers. A few months ago, Eliot and I were going to make chili to ward off the cold of the Chicago winter. At the store, I asked if he had noodles. “Why?” “You need noodles for chili.” And then my worldview changed when he said that chili doesn’t have noodles. Apparently, this was a Midwestern (or at least – my family) tradition – much like putting butter on rice. I said that I still needed a starch, so picked up a loaf of bread. I was still sick at that point, so Eliot made the chili and I pretended to help. My memory of what went into his chili is sketchy (as are most of my memories from January through mid-June when my gluten intolerance reached its peak) so I turned to my cookbooks for this meal so I knew what ingredients to add.

I cooked a pound of ground sirloin, a chopped onion, two chopped cloves of garlic, and a sliced celery stalk for about 10 minutes and then drained. Then I added a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce and then some spices (I used paprika, salt, and pepper). Bring to boil and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Then add a can of beans, bring to boil, reduce to simmer for another ten minutes. Easy! The paprika substitution was because I did not have any chili powder at the time. Thanks to a Target trip today, I have remedied that situation for future dishes.

Since I was making chili MY way, I decided to try rice macaroni from the Asian grocery store. There was no gluten-free label on it, so I was hoping that the product was incidentally gluten-free thanks to the ingredient list: rice flour, water, salt. The instructions were difficult to read since they look like they were imported into a free translation website, but ultimately they had the two key pieces of information I needed: the cooking time and draining the noodles. I was originally baffled by rice noodles continually instructing to rinse in cold water after cooking, but after looking at the murky white water, I am more than happy to complete this extra step.

The chili was great – I still have not figured out an oyster cracker substitution. I have a feeling that this dish will become a fine-tuned dish with an exact recipe over the coming winter months.

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