I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns chilly (and anything below 72 is chilly to me), I want something warm and delicious for dinner. When I was growing up, we lived next door to my grandmother, and I loved to pop over for a bowl of delicious chili when the weather started to turn cold. And I guess I’ve never grown out of it; chili is still my first go-to for fall, and I love pairing it with some delicious homemade cornbread. (Though I’m also open to corn chips and tortilla chips.) Since I know a lot of people are experiencing cooler weather (Like us, yay!), I thought I’d give you a couple of options for delicious chili and cornbread.
This first one is quick and easy for a weeknight. I made this for the church’s pie fellowship and none of it made it home. It doesn’t make a lot (just a 9 in. square pan), so I decided to double everything. Doubling the chili ingredients is actually enough for one a 9×13 AND a 9 inch square pan, but doubling the cornbread topping is only enough for the 9×13.
Chili Pie (from the February 2004 issue of Real Simple)
1 lb. casings removed Italian sausage (We prefer it with regular breakfast sausage.)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 15 oz. cans rinsed, drained kidney beans
1 14 1/2 oz. can drained, diced tomatoes
3/4 c. salsa
1 8 1/2 oz. box cornbread mix
1 c. shredded cheddar
1. In a large skillet, brown and crumble the sausage over medium heat, about 7 minutes. Add the chili powder and cook 1 minute. Spoon off and discard the fat. Add the beans, tomatoes, and salsa; simmer 3 min.
2. In a bowl, prepare the cornbread mix according to the package directions; stir in the cheddar.
3. Transfer the chili mix to a 9×9 or 11×7 in. dish. Spread the cornbread batter on top. Bake at 400 degrees til golden, 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
If it’s the weekend though, you might want to take a little more time to get a little more flavor. Let’s start with a made-from-scratch cornbread. This cornbread is super easy to make and incredibly tasty. Even though I’m from the South, I’m pretty equal opportunity about my cornbread. I’m perfectly happy to eat it with or without sugar. If you’re a traditionalist (read: no sugar allowed), you might want to scroll down now to the chili recipe. This recipe makes plenty of cornbread, but I still have a feeling that it won’t last long in your house.
Brown Sugar Cornbread (from Martha Stewart)
1 c. butter
2 2/3 c. cornmeal
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. dark brown sugar (You have to use dark brown if you want to taste it, but it’s still delicious with light brown.)
2 c. milk
4 beaten eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9×4 1/2 inch loaf pans and set them aside. (You can also bake this in a 9×13; you just have to cook it a little longer.) In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and brown sugar over medium-low heat til they’re just melted and whisk them til they’re smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat; whisk in the milk, then the beaten eggs. Pour this wet mixture into the dry mix and stir just til blended. Divide evenly into the loaf pans and smooth out the tops.
3. Bake the cornbread in the middle of the oven until the loaves are golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle come out clean, about 30 minutes. (When I’m baking it in a 9×13, I cover it with foil after 30 minutes, then finish cooking 20-30 more minutes, depending on your oven.) Turn the loaves out onto wire racks and let them cool.
And lastly is a slowly-cooked chili that has lots of good flavors. It doesn’t make a lot of soup and it doesn’t pack any special bells and whistles, but it will fill your belly and warm you up from the inside out.
Chili con Carne (from Betty Crocker)
1 lb. ground beef
1 chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic (I minced mine.)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cocoa (You won’t taste it, but it gives a great depth of flavor.)
1/2 tsp. red pepper sauce (Your favorite hot sauce.)
2 c. undrained diced tomatoes (I actually used 3 cans of diced tomatoes, because my cans didn’t have as much liquid as I wanted.)
1 19 oz. can undrained kidney beans
1. In a 3 quart saucepan, cook the beef, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, til the beef is brown. Spoon off and discard the fat.
2. Stir in the chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cocoa, red pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes and heat the mixture to boiling. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the beans and again heat the mixture to boiling. After it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer it uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, til it reaches your desired thickness.
Hopefully this will set you up for any incoming cold weather. I’m pretty happy with all sorts of chilis, though this kind is probably a hair above the others. What are your chili preferences? Beans or no beans? Chili, ground meat, or a certain beef cut? Green, white, or red? I’d love to hear your thoughts.