By Reba Ray
T’ain’t nothin’ better than a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter night. You sutheners are gettin’ warmer weather already, but fur the northerners, it’s still winter until March 21. So let’s have some healthy chili. If yur in the habit of buyin’ canned chili, it’s one you need to break. Chili idn’t hard to make and store-bought chili is just plain fatnin’. And personally, I don’t like the taste of store-bought turkey chili, the healthier variety.
If you’ve got a crock-pot, here’s a good way to use it. If you don’t, you can make this in a pot on the stove.
½ pound lean ground beef
½ bell pepper
Salt and pepper
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
½ envelope yur favorite chili seasoning
Clove of garlic
1 can tomato paste
2 cups water
Chop yur onions and peppers to the size you like ‘em. What? You don’t like ‘em , well, just leave ‘em out then! Brown your ground beef in a skillet, cookin’ the veggies alongside, salt and pepper to taste. Drain off any excess grease. Set aside. In the pot yur gonna cook the chili in, empty both cans o’ beans – you might want to drain off some of that weird bean juice in the can, but you don’t have to. If you do use the bean juice, cut the water down by half. Now add the meat, chili seasoning, garlic, tomato paste and water and stir it all up. Let it heat fur about 10 minutes then stir some more because that tomato paste is awfully globular when it’s cold. Now put the lid on and simmer for half an hour. Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy an even tastier chili the next day. This recipe makes about eight cups of chili, one servin’ bein’ about two cups. So you can have it for a couple of dinners and then use yur leftover chili to make a new favorite at Reba Ray’s house… the Scattered, Smothered, Covered Bake
Scattered, Smothered, Covered Bake
Here’s a healthy tribute to an old Waffle House favorite. Special thanks to the dashing Chef Jim-Bob for his expertise in tater-fryin’. This is a great way to use leftover chili (déjà vu all over again). If you want to make this for company, triple the recipe and put it in a pie pan instead of an au gratin dish.
1 medium tater, washed
2 tsp. canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup leftover chili
1 tbsp. whole wheat flour
¼ c. shredded cheddar cheese (or Jack or Colby Jack)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shred the tater – skin on (you’ll never taste it and you’ll get all the benefits of the fiber and nutrients in the skin). In a small nonstick skillet, heat one teaspoon of the canola oil over medium heat then add the shredded tater. Salt and pepper to taste. Let ‘er cook until the edges brown, then lift the tater disk with a spatula while you quickly dump in another teaspoon of oil to yur skillet. Now flip the taters over and cook another five minutes.
Lightly spray the bottom of an au gratin dish with cooking spray. Sink the hash brown tater disk into the au gratin dish until it’s coverin’ the bottom and pushin’ up the sides to form a crust in the dish. Trim off excess edges with a sharp knife if you need to. Pop ‘er in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
While this tater crust is crustin’, put the cold chili in a small pot and stir in the flour. Heat on medium until the chili thickens to about the consistency of oatmeal.
Pull the crust out of the oven and spoon in the chili, spreadin’ it around. Now sprinkle the shredded cheese all over. Pop ‘er back in the oven for 15-18 minutes more. Remove and let ‘er cool for at least five minutes. Eat yur single serving right from the au gratin dish. If yur making the triplified version in a pie pan for company, let ‘er cool for 20 minutes. Why? Well, cuz you gotta cut the pie up and dish it out of the pan, so it needs more time to “gel.”
And we’re done!