Chili (with Mashed Potatoes)

ImageI know what you’re thinking…chili and mashed potatoes? No cornbread?! Sounds like a giant bowl of mush, why don’t I just go buy myself a few jars of baby food while I’m at it? Well, to any nay-sayers out there, I say, give it a try. This is how my grandpa ate chili and not to toot my own horn or anything (wow, does that make me sound like I’m old enough to be a grandparent?), but he was a pretty freakin’ smart guy. Every time we had a big, cozy, winter family dinner that involved chili, my grandma made some mashed potatoes for those who chose to take their chili from good (maybe a little plain) to wonderful.

I’ve made this chili quite a few times since I’ve been cooking for myself, but this is the first time I’ve made mashed potatoes to go along with it. Don’t ask me why I’ve been denying myself the pleasure of chili and mashed potatoes for the last few years. But this time, I HAD to have mashed potatoes with it. Good decision? Great decision.

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As with lots of foods, like pie or cake or sandwiches, the ratio here is critical. I think a 2:1-ish ratio of chili to mashed potatoes is perfect. Any more potatoes, and then yes, it does get kind of ruined and turn a little mushy. Any less than that, and there aren’t enough mashed potatoes to go around. One big spoonful of mashed potatoes, two ladle-fulls of chili, and you’re on your way to a revelation.

Ingredients. This is ALL the prepping you have to do! Chop an onion and some garlic and open a few cans. Oh, and chop a potato, of course.

ImageCooking in progress…

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Mashed potatoes! And butter.

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Mmmmmm. A bowl of warmth.

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This is a perfect recipe to make while it’s freezing outside. Up here in the northwest we’re having our normal rain, but if you’re stuck with a -40 windchill, this is an easy thing to make and you might already have all the ingredients!

Chili (with mashed potatoes)

Serves 8

2 pounds ground beef (ground turkey is good too)

1 white onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, grated

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 15-oz can chili beans

1 15-oz can kidney beans

1 15-oz can pinto beans

1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and onion. If your beef/turkey is quite lean, or if you’re using a cast iron pot, add a couple tablespoons of oil to the pot as well. Break up the ground beef a bit and let the meat and onion cook until the meat is almost cooked through. No need to drain the pot, but you can if you want. Add in the garlic and cook for another couple minutes. Add in the chili powder, beans (don’t drain them), and tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until heated through. If you want a thicker chili (that’s how I like it), let more of the liquid boil off. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. This chili lasts for a good 5 days in the fridge and probably up to a week, but I can never keep it around that long. It also freezes very well.

Mashed Potatoes

Enough for 2 to have with chili, multiply as necessary

1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

About 2 tablespoons milk

Butter (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

While the chili cooks, boil the potato pieces until soft when poked with a fork, 15-20 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl. Mash the potato and add in the milk until desired consistency is reached. I like to mix a little butter in mine as well, but that’s totally up to you. Salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mashed potatoes between 2 bowls and serve the chili on top. Top with whatever you like – cheese, fresh chopped onion, crackers, green onion…and enjoy the warmth.

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