Life with a Dutch Oven - Chili (via Pioneer Woman)

Errol got me an amazing Lodge 6-quart Dutch oven with a beautiful, shiny red enamel for Christmas. I'm a lucky girl! Now I can really pretend like I'm on a cooking show.

Not only is it the quintessential cooking tool, but it serves as an intense arm workout (or maybe it's just me).

I let Errol pick the first dish I made in it, and he picked chili! After scoping out lots of chili recipes, I decided to go with Pioneer Woman's Simple, Perfect Chili. I'm no chili connoisseur (had to look up that spelling); in fact, I don't really remember ever having it. But I imagined it tasted similar to taco meat. Before you react to my blasphemous statement, I was proven very wrong. 

Anywho, recipe starts out with 1 lb. ground beef and chopped garlic. I'm not sure if I was just brainwashed, but browning the meat seemed happen in a flash with the Dutch oven. I could tell the heat was being distributed quickly and being retained like magic. 

I don't have good pictures of the next steps. But once the meat is browned, drain off the fat.  Then add: 
  • 16 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
Stir it up, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour (stirring occasionally). It was at this time I realized I had accidentally used 1 lb. instead of the 2 lb. from the original recipe (oops). No worries, it still tasted amazing! In fact, maybe it tastes better that way with the higher concentration of spices! 

After an hour, I added 1 can of kidney beans. The original PW recipe calls for 1 can kidney beans AND 1 can pinto beans, but as I'm not the biggest fan of beans and this was my first chili (I wanted to have a good first impression - that I remember!) I decided to just use 1 can.

Mix it all up and proceed to let your boyfriend take a picture of your giddiness. 

Now for the *magic ingredient*: masa harina. I looked up substitutions for it, assuming it would be difficult to find. But actually, I found it in my parents' pantry and proceed to take some. Turns out, it's something we've always had and is super easy to find (as in, it's in every grocery store). 

Mix 1/4 cup masa harina with 1/2 cup water and mix until smooth. It becomes a bit of a paste, and serves to thicken AND add some corn flavor to the chili. Substitutes I found were simply cornstarch, and also flour. 

After the masa harina is incorporated, cover it up and let it simmer for 10 more minutes. In the mean time, shred up your cheddar cheese, open up the bag of Fritos, and let the smell of chili turn on the cephalic phase of stomach acid secretion (aka get hungry).

Give yourself a couple of scoops, top with shredded cheese, Fritos, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. I love the texture the Fritos add to the smooth chili, and the Greek yogurt is actually a sour cream substitute - a trick I learned with baked potatoes. 

I was really proud of how the chili turned out. For anyone wondering, it's not spicy. If you want spice, I've seen a can of Rotel (tomatoes + chilies) added, and perhaps more cayenne pepper.

But I can't take all the credit, the Dutch oven did most of the work.

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