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Verses from my Kitchen: Beef Chili + Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

October 6, 2010

Beef Chili + Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

It's time to bunker down and bundle up. The reality is the weather isn't going to get better for a long time. Pack away the swimsuits, the short-sleeve shirts and the dreams of a hot day strolling the market or the beach. Don't worry, the news isn't all bad. We get to enjoy things only meant for times like these.

There are certain foods that I long for when the weather takes this turn and my bones get cold. One in particular is so satisfying and few can match it when it comes to depth of flavour, taste and aesthetic. Slow-cooked beef chili. The answer to the changes we're experiencing right now.

There's no denying the great taste of a slow-cooked chili. But there's so much more than the taste that draws me in. It's the entire process that I love. It's the deliberate and planned adding of ingredients, layer after layer until you've achieved the desired consistency and texture. It's the combination of sweet and spicy and the playing smooth and silky with chunky texture. Th.e aesthetic pulls you in. The flavour wins you over. 

When you slow-cook the chili it allows the flavours to envelope each other and the beef to tenderize. The vegetables absorb all the richness and spiciness. The cumin and chili powder adding a little heat burst and the paprika enriching the flavour and adding a vibrant colour. Most people use regular paprika but I prefer smoked paprika for that great smokey flavour. We all know that the flavour is what we're looking for in any great dish and this holds up to that measuring stick.

People serve chili with chips or personal favourites they grew up with. I personally love my chili with homemade biscuits. These Butter & Chive Biscuits are the perfect companion for my Spicy Beef Chili. The biscuits are buttery and soft and help subdue the spice of the chili and sip into the rich sauce.

Spicy Beef Chili

Yields: 6

 The Goods:
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic, minced
3 lbs. ground beef (or cubed beef shoulder or beef chuck)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 can whole tomatoes (hand-crushed)
1 1/4 cup beef broth
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
Biscuits (recipe below)

The Prep:
1. Season the beef with a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Make a mix of chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon and brown sugar. Over medium-high heat place a large heavy-bottomed pot and add the oil. Once the pot is very hot add the onion and carrots until soft and tender. Add in the beef and garlic, cayenne pepper
and stir in the chili powder mixture. Then add the tomato paste and the liquid from the can of tomatoes. Hand-crush the tomatoes and add to the pot along with the beef broth and kidney beans.
2. Simmer, uncovered, until the meat is tender, roughly 60 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
3. Serve with sour cream and a biscuit.

Chili Grind.
Garlic and Onions. Chili step 1.

Chili simmering away.

Spicy Chili, Cheddar-Chive Biscuits with a dollop of créme fraiche

Cheddar & Chive Biscuits

Yields: 8-10 biscuits

The Goods:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 heaping tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 sticks butter
2 tbsp. chives, chopped
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar

The Prep:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Whisk the flour, powder and salt in a large bowl until fully mixed. Grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Toss easily with your fingers until the butter is spread evenly around.
3. Pour in the milk and stir gently with a butter knife. Fold the dough a few times.
4. Pat down onto a lightly floured surface to form a round shape. Cut into pie-shaped wedges.
5. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes until golden-brown.

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