Chili dinner party

img_1472.jpg img_1484.jpg

There were 2 1/2 pounds of ground beef sitting in my fridge, time to do something about it before it becomes something altogether undesirable. Utilizing many of the hand me downs from crazy loot, the best thing was to make chili which would incorporate the meat, crushed tomatoes, and beans. Since no one in their right mind should eat 2 1/2 pounds of ground beef on their own, I invited some guests. A dinner party in The Littlest Kitchen. For the very first time.

The dinner that I had planned was chili, cornbread and salad. Now, this would have been a no brainer in my old apartment which was fully stocked with basic dry goods and equipment. The ever-evolving, work in progress of The Littlest Kitchen had no such amenities. I already had a few extra ingredients – garlic, chipolte peppers, and cumin – and only needed a few more items – an onion and yogurt for the chili, baking powder for the cornbread, and salad stuff.

The salad stopped me in my tracks, it required so much prep and I was at a loss for a large salad bowl. I felt that it was necessary to round out the meal, and it was a matter of simplification. Chili, being an all-American dish, begs for an equally familiar salad, nothing fancy. It wants an iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing. The only requirement is cutting the head of lettuce into eighths, and pouring the dressing (which I had) over it. An approriate contrast to the amorphous bowl of red, it’s architectural and green and white, providing creaminess and crunch.

Cornbread became another problem. I remembered to get the baking pwder which I lacked. Upon reading the recipe while the chili was cooking, I realized that I had soymilk, not regular milk; cake flour, not regular flour; and powdered sugar, not granulated sugar. It would be more like corncake than bread, not what I wanted, so I looked at my other alternatives. I had some Brazilian cheese bread mix, but it might be too rich for the already fatty chili. I wanted something that would cut the fat, not add to it. Rice would be perfect, but I only had a funky Korean mix of brown rice, barley, black rice, green pea and mung bean. It was worth trying, and ended up being quite good. The color and texture blended with the chili almost too well, but the salad balanced it all out.

A dinner of more than one becomes a complication of scale in The Littlest Kitchen. There is no room to put anything, and you just can’t let things pile up carelessly. The key is to keep things moving and too keep things uniform. If a plate was done, it moved to the sink with like items, stacked neatly. Easier said than done in the whirlwind of entertaining. All in all, the littlest dinner party was enjoyable for the guests and the host.

Chili – serves many

-chop 1 onion
-heat 2T olive oil in a large pot over medium high until shimmering
-add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes
-in the meantime, mince 3 cloves garlic, then add to pot, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute
-add 1t ground cumin, stir to coat onion and garlic
-add 2 1/2 lbs. ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon while it browns, about 10 minutes
-when browned, add 1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes and 2 – 15 oz. cans black beans, bring to boil, and simmer for 45 minutes
-in the meantime, mince 3 canned chipotle peppers, add to chili while simmering
-serve over rice with a dollop of plain yogurt

There are as many ways to make chili as there are stars in the sky. An olio of spare parts, I also like it with different kinds of beans, celery, carrots, and corn. Unfortunately, none of these were in the larder at The Littlest Kitchen. Not that I’m complaining…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: