Thursday, April 28, 2011

you don’t need this recipe to cook chili and rice


In Hawaii, there is no such thing as chili without rice. It would be blasphemous to eat it as anything but rice flavoring. You need the clean taste of rice to pair with the messy back-of-the-throat acid and warmth of chili.

Chili and rice is a common menu item at local style take out places and a Zippy’s specialty. Supposedly people will take Zippy’s chili back with them when they’re stuck on the mainland for college.

I decided to use chili as the first real test that my culinary students would have. Cooking is often about trusting your taste and testing out your understanding of foods. When you’ve had as much chili and rice as my students have had, you should know what looks like chili and what doesn’t.

So I let them at it.

I brought a lot of ingredients that normally go into chili recipes, and I asked them to put it together. The only help I gave them was to say that they should brown the meat first. And keep the temperature on the low side to avoid red splatter all over everyone’s faces.

Everyone got into their kitchens and started throwing stuff together. They stood over their chili pots protectively, keeping their concoctions from my criticism. Some looked like soups, some had no sauce at all. The students would go visit another group, look at their chili, and go back to the ingredient table and think about why their chili looked nothing like chili at all. Most of my students don’t really read the recipes I give them anyway, so it was better that they only had their instincts to guide them here.

By the end I had 6 very different tasting pots of chili. But everyone one of them could be classified as such. There was smoky chili, bacon chili, basic chili, vegetable laden chili, no beans chili, and watery chili. After everyone declared theirs to be the best and took their portions home, I threw the leftovers together and had enough for dinner for my family and our neighbors.

So I guess they can cook. I was a proud Mama.

And they won’t starve when they go to college, with no Zippy’s in sight.


The ingredients included in every chili recipe (all veggies are chopped or minced as desired):

  • tomato sauce or tomato paste
  • salt
  • cumin
  • beef stock or bouillon
  • cayenne pepper or chili powder or both

The ingredients included in almost every chili recipe:

  • ground beef (you can get fancy and go with real beef, cubed)
  • kidney beans (cooked)
  • garlic
  • brown or white sugar
  • coriander
  • dried oregano
  • onion
  • canned tomato

The ingredients that are optional but often good in chili, maybe not all together:

  • peppers (bell or hot as desired)
  • chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)
  • bacon
  • corn
  • tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • different kinds of beans (cooked)
  • canned pumpkin
  • cocoa powder
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce
  • carrot
  • zucchini

Basic Chili Directions

  1. Brown the meat in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drain the rendered fat off and set the meat aside. Fry up the bacon if using.
  2. In a tablespoon of oil over medium heat, saute the onions until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add other chopped veggies, if using and cook about 5 minutes. Put the onions and and meat in a saucepan over medium low heat and add the tomato sauce or paste and some beef stock (or bouillon mixed with water). Add the beans. Add spices to taste. Simmer until thickened or add more beef stock or tomato sauce as needed. I personally love the canned pumpkin in my chili.
  3. Serve with rice. Plenny of it.


Stephanie said...

I would absolutely love to be in your class!

Belinda @zomppa said...

Me too!! How fun that must have been, and not to mention tasty.

Anonymous said...

Chili is comfort food to me... by the way, so nice to see an update from you, I sure missed your posts = )

Unknown said...

What a fun experiment!

jalna said...

Awww, wish you were my teacher back in the day. Love the blue bowl. Did your husband make it?

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

I don't really like chili but I would eat your chili any day. Your students are so lucky, I hope they realize it.

Ellie said...

I didn't know canned pumpkin and cocoa powder can be added to chili. Chili kind of reminds me of curry because many people add different hidden ingredients to make their unique curry.

Mariko said...

Stephanie: You can be in my culinary class at my house. :)
Belinda: Thanks! It was definitely a learning experience.
Elle Marie: Good to be back and I'm looking forward to catching up on all my favorite blogs (i.e. yours)!
Cara: Thanks. Experiment, yes. Ha.
Jalna: Actually his student did. He traded for it. He usually turns his nose up at making blue bowls himself, but he picks them from others.
Da: Neither does Jake. It wasn't his favorite dinner.
Ellie: Cocoa powder is a weird addition, just between you and me. But you're right-- they all taste different but you can tell they're cousins.

sophia said...

Fuuun!! I love making my own whatever chili. I've tried different chilis before, and I find that chilis are so subjective...people like different tastes! I can't do a chili without meat in just doesn't work for me!

It must be so fun to be your student. :D

Anonymous said...

This is what we are eating for dinner. :) Love me some chili and rice! I'm going to have to try it with cocoa powder. That actually sounds good!

justJENN said...

What an interesting recipe, how fun! Now I'm hungry for Zippy's chili...

FootPrints said...

i just made chili last night. the kids ate it because i bribed them with chocolate dipped marshmallows! by reading your recipe i can see a million places i went wrong. i need a do over.

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