As a southern girl currently abroad, Tara’s recipe makes me a little homesick, and a LOT hungry. Hearty chili and cornbread are a classic pairing – but cooked like this you’ve got ease, gorgeous presentation, and a truly complete one pot meal! -Amy
Chili is delicious any season, but I particularly love it in the late winter and early spring. It holds the promise of lazy summer cookouts to come, while being hearty, comforting, and most importantly, warm — things you really appreciate as the cooler climes shake off the last vestiges of winter and all you want to do is put away your cold weather clothes for good.
Bare ankles and barbecue aside, chili is the ultimate low maintenance meal: easy to put together, feeds a crowd, can bubble away all day, or be done in under an hour. Like stir fries and frittatas, you can toss in whatever is hanging out in your fridge. It’s festive enough for friends and low key enough for a Tuesday (or hanging out with friends on a Tuesday).
My version of beef and bean chili, which I hope you alter to your tastes and fridge contents, comes with a layer of cornbread dumplings on top that make it spectacular (and minimize your post-dinner dish time!) After the chili has reached bubbly perfection, rounds of cornbread dough bake and steam for a few minutes while in the oven. Scoop and serve with your favorite chili fixings and dinner is pleasantly, perfectly, minimally done.
Cornbread Dumplings Dough
- 1-1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 c. milk or buttermilk
- 3 Tbs. butter, melted
- 1 scallion, chopped
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, butter, and chopped scallions.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well combined. Let stand until the batter is thick enough to hold its shape, about 5 minutes.
Beef & Bean Chili
For the Chili:
- 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbs. dry chili rub (I used the IQUE rub from Wicked Good Barbecue)
- 1-2 lbs. stew beef cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 c. low-sodium beef stock
- 1 c. tomato puree
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 chipotle chili, minced, plus 1 Tbs. of adobo from the can
- 3 c. beans, black and pinto (home cooked, or canned and rinsed)
- 1 Cornbread Dumplings Dough
- Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of the dry rub and stir.
- Pat the beef dry and coat with the remaining dry rub. Add to the pot and let cook until there is some searing, about 6 minutes. Add the peppers and stir until they begin to soften, 3 minutes.
- Add the stock, tomato puree, tomato paste, chipotle, and adobo and stir until combined. Let cook until the flavors start to meld, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and adjust the seasonings.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide cornbread dough into 7 or 8 2-inch balls. Slightly flatten and place on top of the chili to cover. Cover the pot with a lid and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cornbread is dry and cooked through. Remove and serve with your favorite toppings.
Photos taken and styled by Tara.
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