Shortcut chili cuts the prep time and keeps the bold flavour
Since having kids, time has become my new currency, and saving any bit here and there feels like I have won the lottery, or at least makes me feel like I have a life again. Cooking meals that take hours to make and remind me of yesteryear are not possible any more. Finding time-saving twists on old classics has become a necessity … though taste never gets sacrificed in the process.
I have tried many ways to save time in the kitchen; some work better than others. My go-to gadgets are: a) metal garlic press: it’s fast, the results would otherwise take 10 times as long, and it’s not messy; b) mandolin: despite the fact I think nothing replaces a sharp knife, a mandolin can slice through large quantities with ease; and c) a quality food processor: it slices, it grates, it chops and it mixes, all while you can work on something else. Gadgets are not the only way I save time though; canned foods (mainly vegetables) have become a key component of all quick meals. The biggest time-savers with canned foods is that they are all typically pre-cooked; all you have to do is heat them through. Add them to soups, stews, or just have them as a side; they all work and taste great. I know nothing replaces fresh produce but there is a reason canned veggies are a pantry staple.
Any tricks and shortcuts that I incorporate need to do two things: speed up either prep or cooking time (i.e. reheating veggies from a can with no prep), and not sacrifice on the flavours of the meal (no amount of time-saving is worth having food no one enjoys). With regards to the latter, spices and strong flavours help. When something can’t simmer for hours and develop its own flavours, bold spices can replace some of those notes that we always look to achieve while cooking.
Chili is a classic dish that takes lots of time. And for me there are few meals that bring back as many memories as my dad’s chili. Unfortunately, his took all day to make and I rarely have time for that. Luckily, this shortcut version brings back those same memories, with all the familiar bold flavours.
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb button mushrooms, small dice
1 lb ground beef
3 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp each salt and pepper
1 can diced tomatoes (500 ml)
1 can kidney beans (500 ml)
1 can corn (250 ml)
1 cup dark beer
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
Sourdough bread (2 slices per person)
Preheat large high-rimmed pan over high heat. Once heated, add vegetable oil, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes.
Add beef, chili powder, salt and pepper. Also cook for about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add all remaining ingredients except bread. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Match: Serve with side of sourdough bread and a young Shiraz.