Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Oven-baked Chili

Blogging is chiefly a narcissistic business. The pursue of those 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol has prophesied a quarter of a century ago and that internet has made possible. Of course, we’ll argue that we’re blogging solely in order to share, to exchange, to meet people. That does sound much nicer, I admit. But honestly: blogs are spaces of pure self-exposure. We exhibit our work, our meals, our writings, our philosophies, our thoughts and obsessions and pains. Because we want to tell the whole world what we think, write, cook etc. in order to get some nice comments assuring us that the world likes (and shares) what we think, write, cook. We wanna be loved, in short. A food & cooking blog is no exception. We want to show the world that we can prepare delicious meals.

When we stop by other people’s blogs, we often leave comments gushing how delicious their meals look and how we’d like to have a piece of that cake, a slice of that bread… And deep in our souls, we’re hoping they might stop by our blogs and, forced by the unwritten rules of netiquette, will leave a comment in turn. Just ask yourself this question: How often do we really pick up that wonderful recipe we’re going all nuts about in our comments, then cook it ourselves and present the result on our blogs? Be honest! Well, I wanted to change that. I confess there are recipes that look delish but contain ingredients I don’t really dig all that much (I’m not on overt fan of too much meat for example). Then, there are others that look just too complicated. And there are those that make me really want to dash into the kitchen and start cooking at once. That was the case of this one here.

FYI, I regularly read my friend Catherine’s blog over at Living The Gourmet. She’s a helluva fabulous cook, that woman, believe me! Almost chain-cooking (and posting) delish recipes (I wonder does she sleep from time to time?). Well, I have decided to thank her for her unfaltering friendship by trying to copy one of her recipes (with her permission, of course): the Baked Chili (original post here). There have been some minor problems though. Catherine living in the USA, she uses some ingredients I just couldn’t find here in France. Bisquick, for instance. Simply not available! Yet one of her main ingredients. With all my humblest apologies, I’ve decided to replace it by a simple béchamel-sauce. And jalapeños – I had to improvise by buying hot chili peppers from the French Antilles instead (more about that one later). So there we go; I hope I’m as fabulous as you, Catherine (seriously doubting it, but lemme tell you it was delicious – a treat!).

What you need: 
For the chili: 
  • 500 g of minced beef 
  • 2 onions 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • A bunch of fresh parsley 
  • ½ a little, hot chili pepper from the French Antilles 
  • A can of kidney beans 
  • A small can of sweet corn 
  • A can of tomatoes 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • Olive oil 
  • Paprika 
  • Mexican Spice Mix 
  • Oregano 
  • Grated cheese 
For the béchamel-sauce:
  • 40 g of butter 
  • 40 g of flour 
  • ½ l of milk 
  • A drizzle of cream 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • Ground nutmeg 
  • Some more grated cheese 
How to proceed: 
Jalapeños (top) vs. hot chili peppers
from the French Antilles (below)
  • Chop your onions, garlic and hot chili pepper (or jalapeño). Just a question: is japaleño very very spicy-hot? Because the little chili peppers I found in the supermarket were – my goodness, they were! I bought two of them, mainly because they were so small and because I saw that guy shoving them into his shopping basket by the dozens. I should have talked to him though: he was obviously from the French Antilles, where they are used to eating very very spicy meals. Now a tip for you if you want to make sure your meal containing hot chili peppers will please even fragile palates: cut the pepper in two and touch the edge with your finger, then lick the finger. If your mouth is in flames, uhm, don’t use too much of those peppers. That’s what I’ve decided after having cut my tiny, tiny green chili from the Antilles. Jeez, was that spicy and hot! Yet very very tasty, too. I loved it! 
  • Chop the fresh parsley. 
  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a big pan. 
  • Stir-fry the onions, the garlic and the peppers (or jalapeño) until the onions are transparent. 
  • Add the minced beef. 
  • Add salt and pepper, then a good spoonful of paprika. 
  • Stir-fry, then add the parsley, a good spoonful or two of Mexican Spice Mix and some oregano. 
  • When the meat is cooked, add the sliced, canned tomatoes. 
  • Let it simmer for approx. 30 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. 
  • Add the kidney beans and the sweet corn. 
  • Let it simmer for another 20 minutes. 
  • In the meantime, you can prepare the béchamel-sauce. Melt 40 g of butter in a little pan. 
  • When the butter is melted, stir in the flour. 
  • Add the milk, lower the heat. 
  • Let it simmer for 10 minutes; you have to stir all the while in order to avoid lumps. 
  • Preheat your oven, 200-230°C. 
  • The sauce will have thickened now. Take it off the heat, add salt, pepper and ground nutmeg as well as a drizzle of cream. 
  • Add some grated cheese, stir well. 
  • Fill the chilli in a casserole. 
  • Pour the béchamel-sauce on top. 
  • Cover with loads of grated cheese. 
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200-230°C (check on it from time to time). 
  • When the cheese has melted and browned, you can serve with a side-helping of salad. 
I just love chili, which I normally prepare without the oregano and the parsley. But they added an extra-flavour I very much appreciated. And to bake the chili with that yummy béchamel-sauce and the cheese – outright divine! Thanks a lot, Catherine, for sharing this fabulous idea with us! I have thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and so has Seb. It has entered by now my list of recipes I'll prepare again and again, that's for certain. And I hope you will enjoy it too!  

Bon appétit and don’t forget to check out Catherine’s blog for more recipes (you’ll get as addicted as I, I’m sure)! 


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