Tuesday, March 13, 2012

0 Do Beans belong in Chili con Carne? Home made chili vs Stagg Classic Chili

It would seem that historically the answer is no. The first documented recipe for chili comes from one of Cortez' captains written in 1519 and contains only boiled tomatoes, salt, chiles and meat. There's a lot of controversy about what belongs in chili and what doesn't. What kind of meat to use, pork or beef...chopped or cubed...what kind of chiles...what kind of beans...which spices... However, the great thing about cooking is that you can make a dish anyway you want to. You can make chili with meat, with beans, without meat, or without beans – whatever combination you desire. Certainly just because you're a vegetarian doesn't mean that you can't eat chili.

I think a great chili is like a great stew – take what you've got in the house, throw it in a pot, add some spices and cook it until it's done, you've got chili. You can use corn, squash, pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, black eye peas, tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, beets, potatoes, and/or tofu in chili. You can serve it over rice, french fries, fritos, baked potato, macaroni, spaghetti or other pasta. You can top it with cheese, onions, sour cream and/or crackers. Today there's even such a thing as white chili – using white beans, chicken, peppers and no tomatoes. Use whatever you've got. Remember, that experimenting with cooking makes it fun.

Basic Chili
2 Lbs lean ground (or cubed) beef
1 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (remember I like garlic – you might want to only use 2)
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ c chopped green chiles (or jalapenos, if you like spice)
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes (low sodium)
2 15oz cans tomato sauce (no HFCS)
¼ c chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans kidney or pinto beans

Place oil and ground beef in pan, brown over medium-high heat, once beef is brown, add garlic, onion, pepper and chiles, cook for about 5 more minutes. Drain if necessary – if you used a good quality beef, you shouldn't need to. Put all ingredients into a large pot, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serves approx. 8-10

Don't forget that you can use ground turkey, chopped chicken, ground pork, texturized vegetable protein or tofu instead of ground beef. Or even leave the meat out, and add another meatless day to your week it's good for you and it's good for the environment.


Home made chili ingredients: Ground beef, olive oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chile pepper, kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper

Stagg Chili Classic ingredients: Water, beef, tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, dehydrated onions, chili seasoning (spices, paprika, sugar, salt and flavorings), modified cornstarch, jalapeno peppers (vinegar), flavoring, salt, dehydrated bell peppers and spices

Cost of home made chili: Approx. $17 for about 132 oz, or .13 cents an ounce
Cost of Stagg Chili Classic: $2.89 for 15 oz can, or .19 cents an ounce

Preparation time for home made chili: 1 hr, 20 min, or 10 min per serving
Preparation time for Stagg Chili Classic: 5 min

Nutritional Data for home made chili
Calories 307
Total Fat 17 g
     Saturated Fat 6 g
     Trans Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 61 mg
Sodium 502 mg
Total Carbohydrates 20 g
     Dietary Fiber 6 g
     Sugars 5 g
Protein 21 g
Vitamin A 50%
Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 8%
Iron 26%

Nutritional Data for Stagg Chili Classic
Calories 330
Total Fat 17 g
     Saturated Fat 7 g
     Trans Fat .5 g
Cholesterol 45 mg
Sodium 810 mg
Total Carbohydrates 27 g
     Dietary Fiber 6 g
     Sugars 6 g
Protein 16 g
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 6%
Iron 15%

Alright, well home made comes in a little cheaper per ounce – but if you were to buy the same amount of Stagg's as you made home made it would cost you about $25.40 instead of $17. You can always freeze the extra chili. Heating your left-over chili would take about the same amount of time as heating the Stagg's, so time spent up front would need to be figured into the whole batch. In other words, you would be spending about 10 minutes per serving making the home made versus the 5 minutes you spent heating the canned. Now, look at the nutritional differences – a few less calories, but a lot less sodium, less total carbohydrates, more protein and more vitamins. I think the home made is a winner. Not to mention that you can make it taste exactly the way you want it to taste.

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