Cornbread and Chili Beans and You Across the Table

Every chili is different. Even if it is the same, it is different. A chili’s identity comes from two things-it’s bean content (red, black or lacktherof) and it’s maker. For example, this is Kelli’s red bean chili:

Kelli's Red Bean Chili

As with most of my dinner attempts, my chili is a work in progress. I started with the recipe on the bag of red beans for my first trial, and now, using a series of controlled experiments, I’m working my way to perfection. This is the story of my second attempt.

The one thing that continues to amaze me regarding chili is the large proportions, especially with the spices. The recipe called for 2-3 tablespoons of chili powder. In my first attempt I was conservative and used only 2 tablespoons, and this round I used more like 2.5. I’m closing in on a true chili flavor. Next time, I will try all 3. Another tweek I made was with the tomato content. The recipe called for 3 cans of diced tomatoes, but I used one can of tomatoes and two cans of original Rotel. I have the divine pleasure of not living in Texas, thus I don’t have the pressure to make a chili as spicy and intolerable as possible. I’m working on flavor not spice.

Since my recipe makes close to 6 quarts of chili, I brought leftovers from my first attempt to my mom. She made a chili casserole of sorts which Ryan continues to talk about: chili, yellow corn, corn bread and cheese. So, to appease my husband I set out to make my second chili a casserole. I started the chili and set out on the cornbread.

I do not think too well on my feet and last minute changes throw me in to a mental frenzy. Forgetting that my mom used only what was left after eating on the chili for a few days, I didn’t take into account that I would be making 6 quarts of chili. Once it was all in the pot, I realized I wouldn’t be able to  make the casserole. So, I resign to making the contingent parts of the casserole–the bread, the corn and the cheese. Since I am not as domestic as my friend Laura

Cornbread from a box and in a jiffy

Lynn, I rely on Jiffy. So, I starts making my cornbread. I mix the egg and milk first and by themselves to make sure the eggs are beaten well and mixed with air. I season my cast iron skillet and let it warm up with the oven. I mix in the cornbread mix and let it rest for 3-4 mins. When the skillet and oven are heated, I pour the mixture into the skillet….the mixture fills only 1/3 of the pan. Begin mental frenzy. I thought I could leave the skillet on the stovetop and cook the bread like a griddle cake, but my skillet is too large for our largest burner. I thought I could transfer the mix to another cake pan, but since the pan was already at 400 degrees, the mix was beginning to cook. I bit the bullet and put the pan in the oven but cooked it only 5 mins rather than 15-20. Luckily, my math worked out and I did not burn the cornbread, but at this point, I couldn’t care less about the precious casserole and didn’t cook any corn.

What it looked like
What it should have looked like

Needless to say, my chili saga continues. For my third attempt, I’ll use all 3 tablespoons of chili powder and maybe three cans of rotel. This is how I made the chili. Any suggestions?

1lbs ground beef, chili powder, cumin, onion and salt. Cook until beef is browned
Add tomato content-tomato paste, diced tomatos and rotel and red beans (cooked and flavored). after cooking covered for 30 mins add red wine vinegar.
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