Chili w/Shredded Beef & Spinach topped with Popcorn


Sometimes the winter chill can only be warmed by eating a hot bowl of chili. Here is a complete meal in one pot with lots of fiber, vegetables, protein, and grain. I find the best meat to use is shredded beef, which I had pressure cooked the day before making this meal. However, you can use ground beef, turkey, or chicken. Or, even make it vegetarian.

You can use canned, ready-made beans, but I try to make things by scratch when I can. So, I soaked the beans overnight; you can use kidney or pinto beans. I had two bags (16 oz., or 1 lb., each) of pinto beans. Since I had a lot of beans, I used less than 1 lb. of meat, which relegates it to the role of condiment instead of being the primary protein source.

After the beans have been soaking overnight, they will need to be cooked. The fastest way to cook them is by using the pressure cooker, which is a specially sealed pot that cooks food quickly due to the physics of steam and pressure. Without getting technical or sidetracked here, I suggest you Google pressure cooker to learn more about it. It is an excellent way to make certain dishes quickly.

Back to the beans–drain the water the beans have been soaking in overnight. Assuming you have a pressure cooker, put the beans in the cooker and put in enough water to cover them. Put the pressure cooker on the stove and cook over medium heat. Once the regulator starts moving on the lid, turn down the heat to 4, if medium is 5, and turn on your timer for 15 minutes. After the beans are cooked, you have to wait until the steam is fully released from the inside. You will know this because there is an indicator on the lid that drops. Be sure to read the instructions on your pressure cooker so you don’t end up like the cook with a blackened face from the explosion. I’m just kidding; I don’t want to alarm you, but follow the instructions and you will be fine.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker then just cook the beans in a regular pot. Cook over medium heat until the beans are tender; this may take about an hour or so, but stir the pot occasionally and add more water to keep the beans covered.

While the beans are cooking, peel and chop the following: 2 onions, 4 carrots, and 4 cloves of garlic. Also open up a 26.46 oz. carton of chopped tomatoes and a 26.46 oz. carton of strained tomatoes (I use the Pomi brand) and set aside. Also have available a bin of fresh baby spinach. Now it’s time to put all the ingredients together in a 10 qt. stock pot heated over medium heat.

Put 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil (I used high oleic safflower oil) and sauté the garlic, then follow with the chopped onions. After a minute or two, put in the carrots. After another minute, put in the shredded beef, along with about ¼ cup of the broth generated from the beef. Use water if you have no broth. Next, put in the chopped tomatoes, along with its juice, stir, then put in the carton of strained tomatoes. As you add each of these ingredients, follow them up with a generous sprinkling of chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Salt as much or as little as you want. I put in a couple of Lindt dark chocolate balls just for kicks, or you can put in 2 tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa if you prefer. Or, a shot of tequila if you want to play hard ball, but don’t say I told you about it; leave out the worm, by the way.

Now, let’s assume your beans are ready and no explosion has occurred. Pour the beans into the stock pot and stir. Turn off the stove. Stir the fresh baby spinach into the pot. And pop some corn; air popping is best. While your popcorn is popping, serve the chili in bowls. Lastly, top the chili with the popcorn, which you can sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. (The picture does not show it sprinkled with cheese, so use your imagination.)

¡Buen apetito!

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