Kneads and Cravings: Sunday chili and Julia Roberts
When the weather is this bleak, all I want to do is hunker down with my dog and a Julia Roberts movie. And given that I’m going to be camping out with 30 blankets, wearing four pairs of socks and with my dog acting as a fuzzy space heater, I know that I’m not going to be inclined to move or really do anything.
Bitter winter days are made for laziness. There’s not enough snow to romp around in right now. Frankly, it’s far too cold out when even my dog, who tries to play fetch with falling snow, refuses to go outside.
Lazy winter days call for comfort food. Something warm and incredibly easy to make. It’s also great if I can make it and still manage to watch half of Julia Roberts’ filmography at the same time.
Over the weekend I bypassed my usual mac and cheese in favor of dragging out the slow cooker and making chili. Slow cookers are one of the greatest kitchen innovations for those who are cooking-challenged or just too busy/lazy to worry about taking the time to prepare a dish. Admittedly, when using a slow cooker, you have to plan what you’re going to make in advance, as it gradually cooks the meal over a long period of time. But all you have to do is dump in the ingredients and go on your merry way. I would advise stirring at least once an hour, but it’s certainly a low-maintenance meal.
And you know what? Letting my slow cooker incubate chili for eight hours roughly equated to me having the time to watch four Julia Roberts movies while wrapped up in a blanket burrito.
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic
28 ounces diced tomatoes
32 ounces chili beans in sauce
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Cook the beef in a pan with the onion over medium heat until the meat is brown. Drain the grease from the pan before putting the meat and onion in the slow cooker. Add the other ingredients and let it cook on the low-heat setting for six to eight hours, and stir occasionally. If the chili seems too runny, stir in a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it. This is a very mild chili recipe; if you prefer something with more of a kick, feel free to add hot sauce or other spices to taste.
Once the chili is done, you can serve it as is or sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over the top. This chili is great with cornbread, but because I’m not the Barefoot Contessa, I was lazy and just used a boxed mix from my cupboard.
And which Julia Roberts movie goes well with chili? Any of them, but if you’re looking for a cozy classic, I’d suggest Runaway Bride (but … it might make you want eggs).