If you are tailgating at Ole Miss, this next thought is not for you. You know what you are doing. Skip to the recipe. For some others, you need to know: just because you are in a parking lot doesn’t mean your tailgate needs to be disposable OR uncivilized. You are already standing around sipping and snacking on gravel or asphalt. Why not make more of the experience? It does not take much to turn a rickety folding table into an eye-catching, inviting spread. Start with a pretty cloth. In time, you can work up to the candelabra like our Ole Miss friends. The best part is: you don’t have to throw away the cloth at the end of the game. You have started on the path of seasons of gracious tailgating.
I like this chili because you can sneak in super foods (Kale and Mushrooms) and no picky eaters will notice.
2 TBS olive oil
1 large onion small dice
1 red pepper small dice
3-4 gloves minced garlic
3 ribs celery small dice
4-5 big leaves of kale finely chopped
1.25 lbs ground beef
I get all this going together in the pot to brown the meat. As that is cooking, chop and add as ready the following:
6 oz. mushrooms small dice
1 small zucchini small dice
1 small yellow squash small dice
Stir often and cook for about 20 minutes then add the following liquids and spices:
6 oz. can tomato paste
28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 C beef stock
(Depending on the size of the vegetables you added you might need to increase the spices. Don’t be afraid of adding extra cumin.)
2.5 TBS chili powder
2.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or a dash more)
If using canned beans**, simmer, stirring occasionally for an hour before adding the beans. (This is where the kale shines. The simmering of kale adds a rich flavor without the bite.)
1 28 oz can of kidney beans (or Northern for color).
Simmer for another 15 minutes to heat through. (The chili can now hold, refrigerated for 4 days. Flavors will mellow and improve with time.)
**I like using dried beans. You have to plan ahead and soak the beans overnight. I add the beans at the same time as the liquids + 1 C more of water or stock and increase the simmer time to 1.5 hours. If you feel like you are running out of liquid cover the pot but leave the lid slightly off to allow a small vent and/or add more liquid.
For your tailgate, serve hot. Offer shredded cheddar cheese, diced green onions, hot sauces (I like Frank’s with this chili), and sour cream.
ps: This Chili won a chili cook-off in 2009 but not before a judge complained..."so many vegetables?!" Apparently he liked it anyway. Didn't hurt that the competition was light.
pss: And if you need to be schooled a little more about football season, listen to this...