Friday, September 25, 2009

Not-Mr. Maricucu's-Chili

Yes, that's the title for this recipe. Nothing makes differences more glaringly obvious than when you get married and combine two, possibly three decades of previous habits with someone who has their own set. When Mr. Maricucu and I got settled into our married roles we noticed a few that um, we had to work around. Like the towel issue. Someone in our home, not saying who, must use a fresh towel each day while others have grown up using a towel for their body that gets changed out once a week and a separate towel for hair and face. We clashed over towel usage over and over until we finally agreed that the daily towel person was to be responsible for towel laundry and most importantly all future children would follow the weekly towel usage pattern to avoid sending the weekly towel user into a manic fit. Phew, crisis averted.

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Other weird clashes have happened over spaghetti sauce (mixed in with the pasta vs. served over the pasta), toilet paper (roll from the top, bottom or not placed on the roll at all), tea (sweet tea or powdered from the can), sheets (tuck in the flat sheet vs. leave it loose for those taller than 5'1"), grits vs. polenta, and of course chili. What's the fuss about chili? First, the meat. He's a fan of large, clumpy chunks while I prefer very well broken up meat. Then the sauce. Mr. Maricucu prefers what he terms a soupy tomato base while I prefer a cooked down, thick tomato base. It's all a matter of 'druthers (love that word!) and to be perfectly honest I like both versions for different things. Mr. Maricucu's chili is great for scooping up with tortilla chips or poured over said chips and sprinkled with cheese. Not-Mr. Maricucu's-Chili is great for serving over rice kind of like a southwestern picadillo or even straight from the bowl with toppings galore.

Not Mr. Maricucu's Chili
adapted from Cook's Companion

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 cup beer, chilled
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (12oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained


Measure out your spices and garlic into a bowl and set aside. We've been sick and I had run out of fresh garlic, thus the garlic powder. Normally it's not a great substitute but fora chili that simmers for quite a bit, this works just fine.

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Heat a large pan on medium high heat and add the oil.

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Then the onions. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft.

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Ahhhh, softened onions. Growing up my mother always worried about the cooking smells that would permeate our home as she sauteed garlic, onions and pepper for her sofrito. I say we need to bottle this stuff.

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Add the ground beef and yes, you guessed it, break it up well with the spoon.

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Once the meat is no longer pink add the spices and stir them into the meat. Saute the spices for about 5 minutes to release the volatile oils in the dry spices.

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See the difference? The spices have sort of fried in the oil left in the pan and the flavor is much more intense than if you had dumped them into the liquids without frying.

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Now to add more depth of flavor. Dump in your tomato paste and you're going to fry this up as you stir it, just like the spices. No good latin cook adds tomato products to their dishes without frying it up well. The tomatoes get a bit sweeter and lose the tinny taste.

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Next the tomato sauce. And saute some more, about five minutes just like the tomato paste.

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Finally the beer. You're probably wondering why I specified that the beer be chilled. Well, since the recipe only takes 8oz and most beers are 12oz, then the cook can drink the rest. Cook's bonus. Stir in the beer, bring the chili to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and let the chili simmer for 50 minutes. I know it's a good bit, but soooo worth it.

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Once the chili has simmered for almost an hour, add the beans and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes to heat them through.

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Yes it's white rice but there's something different about this rice. Part of the reason I prefer this thicker, well seasoned version of chili is that it's very similar to what was served in our school cafeteria. Oh we had some awesome lunch ladies indeed. Made from scratch and served hot over converted rice. I find the converted rice holds up better without getting mushy under the saucy chili. Or it may just be a comfort sort of thing I'm reluctant to change. For whatever reason this is the only dish for which I make some converted white rice (but cooked just like dominican white rice).

Just layer on some fluffy rice.

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Spoon the chili on and here's what you would have received at Mays Middle School in South Miami around the mid 90s.

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I have mine the same way, obviously heaped higher in a bowl and with a bit of sour cream. I like a 2:1 rice to chili ratio. Yes, we need to talk ratios.

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The boys like cheese and sour cream while Mr. Maricucu liks onions and cheese on his, hold the rice. I forgive him since he's not dominican.

Tip: If you don't add the beans this makes a killer hot dog chili, I'm told. I wouldn't know since I don't eat hot dogs. Mr. Maricucu forgives me since I'm dominican.

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5 comments:

Denise said...

Oh can i say how much I love your blog?! You make me laugh. I totally understand the marriage stuff. I know we still need to get together someday- I'm so sorry. The worst stuff that was going on is way better, but the littlest little is very messed up in his sleep which has prevented us from really getting out there with many people. We take things hour by hour pretty much. :( Soon I hope!

Marielle said...

So glad to have made you laugh. Definitely looking forward to getting together. Totally understand though. We've been getting over a cold around here too.

Ann said...

Marielle, you are hilarious.

Gem said...

We're making this tonight! Replacing the paste with diced tomatoes & the sauce with crushed tomatoes -- just what's in the pantry. Throwing it all in the crockpot after sauteing step too. I think we'll try the rice, kids will think I'm weird, but gotta widen your horizons, right?!

--Jema from GCM

Marielle said...

Ooooh I hope it was tasty! Let me know how the diced tomatoes work for future raid-the-pantry moments. Nice to see you here. ;)