Friday, July 17, 2009

Home-Style Chili - Freezer Meal

I love this picture - makes me think of hard life on the trail, eating whatever foods you brought or could hunt up. Foods like chili and other simple one-pot meals topped the menu. This picture is found in the chili section of the book "Where's Dad Now That I Need Him?" The book is a lot more than recipes, but there is a sizable recipe section, including an entire chapter on chili.

This is the first recipe in that chili chapter, and it's super good! Simmering for a really long time, it starts very watery but over the hours it thickens and the flavors blend so deliciously. This is a chili that just gets better the longer it sits! That's also what makes it a great freezer meal.

For this recipe, since it already makes so much, I didn't have to double it or anything. Just made it as-is, and it made enough for 3 freezer meals for my family, plus enough for dinner tonight.

Home-Style Chili
3 cups dry kidney beans plus soaking water
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped celery (I skipped this, as I used up all my celery for the curry)
1 tsp. pepper
4 tsp. chili powder
6 cups water
1 #2 1/2 can tomatoes, pureed in blender (about 2 14-oz. cans)
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. celery salt

I also added about a cup of squash puree from my freezer, a couple sliced carrots, a seeded jalapeno, and a can of olives, sliced. I like lots of stuff in my chili! I also used TVP in place of some of the ground beef.

Wash beans; cover with water and soak overnight. In a skillet, cook meat and onions until meat is browned and onions are tender. Add to beans in a heavy kettle. Stir in remaining ingredients except celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 4 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary to keep chili from scorching. Add celery and simmer 30 minutes more.

This could probably be done in a slow cooker - just toss everything in once you've browned the meat and onion, and cook for several hours.

Mmm, look at that big ole' pot of thick, chunky chili! Yum!

Freezer Meal: Same as with the curry - once chili is finished cooking, let cool and separate into meal-sized portions, into freezer containers, ziploc-style freezer bags, or canning jars. Freeze. To use, thaw completely in refrigerator, and heat in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Again, if you use freezer bags, freeze it flat to make best use of freezer space, and to allow for faster thawing.

I did the curry in gallon-sized bags, and the chili in quart-sized. With a fairly small family like mine, either size works fine.


Heidi said...

This chili looks great. I love chili. I just made a ton for our town tractor pull concession stand so I will not be making chili for at least a month!

Katy ~ said...

I have yet to make a chili from scratch; I usually start with a dried packet mix LOL! Yours looks very good indeed. Here's a dumb question for you? How do you prevent freezer burn? My stuff gets all crystallized and unappealing and I end up tossing it out.

Stephanie said...

Try to keep as much air out of the food as possible - squeeze all the air out of the bag, etc. You can also double bag or double wrap things to keep the air more securely out. And then make sure to use it before it gets all weird. And here's a secret - we usually use the crystallized stuff anyway because we're too cheap to throw away food! ;-)

Dr. Alice said...

Question: when adding TVP, is there any need to saute it as with the ground beef or do you just rehydrate it and throw it in? I've always wondered.

Stephanie said...

With this recipe, I just threw it in dry with all the beans and water and whatnot. It rehydrated as the chili cooked.

Normally what I do with TVP is rehydrate it, then saute it with the ground beef so it will pick up the beef flavor.

joannabug said...

I love this series, Stephanie. Very practical!