Easy Chili

The calendar still says fall, but don’t be fooled by that. Winter is just around the corner. And while we’ve escaped the snowstorms that have hit the Rocky Mountain West (two of them) and the Northeast, it now appears that at least part of the region will see some of the white stuff over the weekend.

Winter to me is chili season. And with some newly acquired elk meat in the freezer and an abundance of sweet and hot peppers from my garden, I’m sure to be making some in the near future.

Here’s a recipe that I’m considering that will easily feed a crowd. It calls for ground beef and thin strip steak trimmed of fat.

Easy Beef and Veggie Chili
4 tablespoons ancho chili powder
4 tablespoons regular chili powder
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon favorite all-purpose seasoning (such as Goya complete seasoning)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ pound thin strip steak, trimmed of fat
1 pound ground chuck
1 jumbo onion, peeled, ends removed, diced small
3 green peppers, washed, diced small
2 jalapeno peppers
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (optional)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 ounces no-salted added tomato paste
4 cups fat-free less-sodium beef broth
In a small bowl, mix together the seasoning ingredients and set aside. Taste and adjust if necessary; you may want more chili powder. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cut the strip steak into ¼-inch pieces. Add the steak and ground beef to the pot and cook until browned. Add the onion, green and jalapeno peppers, and, if using, the chipotle pepper. Cook until the onion slightly browns. Add the mushrooms and saute until they release their liquid and brown a bit. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the seasoning mixture. Cook a few minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth. Reserve and set aside several tablespoons of the seasoning mixture and stir in the rest. Bring to just a slight boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover slightly and cook about 1½ hours. Just before serving, stir in the reserved seasoning mixture. If the chili seems thin, mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with a couple of teaspoons of the chili liquid and stir back into the chili. Bring to just a boil and cook 1 minute or until it thickens.
Garnish with shredded cheese, if desired.
Yield: Serves 14.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 232 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 18 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 792 milligrams sodium, 42 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams fiber.