This past Tuesday I had a dentist appointment in Manhattan and decided to walk to the Upper East Side from Penn Station. The weather for the first time in months was beautiful; finally the grays days of winter are falling away. I shared a cup of cappuccino and a small prosciutto/cheese Panini with a couple of friends in Bottega Del Vino an Italian Restaurant with a cheap menu if you sit by the counter bar; and with a Park Plaza view. I spent $11 dollars – just the right amount for my lunch and a view of the plaza, central park and a walk in a city that although dirty (with the winter-to-spring dirt and sand), busy and over populated, I continue to love.
So much for the complaining about inflation – cost of living, the layoffs – outsourcing and many other sundry list of complaints. I did not realize how much life has changed, how much we are complaining about the things we had, but no longer have until my conversation with my dentist hygienist about these same things today, a person I have not met until today. And it did not help that I was taken by a really good documentary I saw a few days ago “Inequality For All“ by former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich- the documentary discusses the economic crisis gap in the U.S. The question is? How do we become accustom to this new way of life? How do we adapt to the struggle of life, the fight over inequality, the opportunity for jobs and their outsourcing? Life continues is my personal affirmation and the best of the time to put to good use the such called survival of the fittest theory.
So in keeping with our new found frugality I bring you beans. That’s right; I want to discuss beans today, a great vegetable protein which is cheap, good and versatile. I like beans and I eat them often. Growing up I ate them every day. So I boiled lots of red beans and this is no casualty. I keep them boiled in my refrigerator or freezer to make them in stew, fry, mixed with rice, in salads, soup and in a chili-con-carne.
Last week was still cold here and we were all in the winter food mood when this chili was made. For me beans are an all year round fortifying food. So while we wait for the greens, the fresh produces of spring I invite you to eat beans. I have been eating beans in almost all forms, but I don’t remember ever having chili-con-carne growing up.
Oh well, chili with carne, aji Amarillo (from Peru), garlic, lots of onions, cumin, cilantro, oregano and thyme; all these goodies in one bowl.
- 6 cups of boiled beans or can (rinsed)
- 2 large onions chopped
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 1 ½ lb. organic ground beef
- ½ cup red wine (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 28 oz. can Italian crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock (water if none of the previous is available)
- Fresh Thyme
- Fresh oregano
- Salt and fresh black pepper
- Optional garnishing or toppings:
- Aji Amarillo or jalapeño minced
- Tomatoes peeled-chopped
- Extra olive oil
For boiling the beans:
For the beans if boiling it yourselves, in a large bowl cover the beans with cold water and leave at room temperature overnight. In the morning drain the water and cover the beans again with more cold water (if you have the time). After a few more hours drain the water again and place in a pressure cooker or a large pot with cold water. In the pressure cooker cooks beans for about 20 minutes at medium- high heat.
If cooking in a regular pot cook the beans in medium heat for a 1 hour or 1 ½ hour depending on the beans. Or simple cook gentle until beans are tender. Skim off any foam that accumulates on top.
For the chili-con-carne:
Heat up a large Dutch oven pot and add the chopped onions. Lower the heat and cook the onions for about 5 minutes stirring it constantly and without burning it. Add the olive oil, garlic, cumin, dry oregano and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the ground beef and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze. Add the green/red peppers and cook for two minutes. Incorporate the crushed tomatoes, the beans and stock.
Add the fresh oregano, thyme and cilantro (tied together with a kitchen twine). Season with the salt, black pepper and simmer for 15- 20 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with any of the giving garnishing.
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