chilly for chili {life}

We tend to be a white chili family around here. You know, shredded chicken or ground turkey and some kind of white bean like cannelini or great northerns. Mostly because, let's face it, it's what I prefer and I'm the one who's generally doing the cooking. However. I like to think of myself as an accommodating person, and if requests are made, well. Sometimes I listen.

We're at a funny and interesting stage at our house. I call it Teenage Boy. Neel and I are precariously trying to balance our own portion control with Callum's need to eat constantly. I really am trying to honor the fact that he needs fuel for this growing machine and offer up healthy but satisfying and filling (especially filling) choices. Enter Mad Hungry. Have you seen this book? Neel loves the title because he says he remembers being hungry just like that when he was a boy. So hungry that you could cry from it. So hungry that you actually got mad about it.

So we made some hearty chili, and now I might make tomato based chili more.

Chili  adapted from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

3 smoked serrano chiles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 pounds stew meat, cubed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of brown sugar, if desired
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
12 oz. beer
2 15 oz cans beans (pinto, kidney, black, etc.) with liquid

Using a dry skillet and high heat, lightly toast the chilies for a few minutes. Once roasted, remove from pan and slice the chilies to remove and discard the stem and seeds. Soak the chilies in boiling water for five minutes to soften and then pureé in a food processor with enough liquid to form a thick paste.

In a deep pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Increase the heat to high, add the beef and roughly two teaspoons of the salt and brown.

Once beef has browned, add cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, bay leaf, chili paste and remaining salt. Stir to combine, adding brown sugar to taste. Combine tomatoes and beer with beef mixture and simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and cook an additional 20 minutes. You may need to add more water if the chili becomes too thick.

Serve with diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and lime wedges.