Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Reason to Own a Cast Iron Wok

Mom left a couple of days ago, and I’m still finding surprises all over the kitchen. For example, I found the coating on my expensive Dutch oven burned and cracked. But this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. She once used cooking spray on my tri-ply stainless steel (expensive) frying pan when making pancakes, leaving a nice burnt film on the surface and rendering that pan completely useless. Then she made the comment that I should consider spending a little more money on a nice non-stick frying pan. It’s a good thing she is my mother and I’m supposed to love her, no matter how crazy she makes me.

Since the Dutch oven is currently out of commission, I used my wok to make chili. I would actually use my wok more for stewing and braising if only it had a lid. In lieu of a lid, I used aluminum foil. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.

I’ve never made chili from scratch. When I lived in Denmark, I used the Knorr seasoning packs that just required addition of ground beef. It was easy and tasty, but I wanted to try making it from scratch. For my first attempt, I used beef chunks rather than ground beef (I will be trying a version with ground beef soon). And no beans. I’m just not a beans-in-the-chili type of girl. The beef was nice and tender and the sauce was thick and well flavored without being too spicy (Sonny loved it). The key is to allow the chili to sit overnight in the fridge. I really do insist you do that part. It allows the flavors to meld and mellow.

Beef and no-bean Chili
  • 2.5 to 3 lbs stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tbs cornstarch mixed with 1 tbs water
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbs honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Toss the beef chunks in the cornstarch mixture and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Season with salt then brown well in about 2-3 tbs oil (this part was a cinch in the wok). Remove and set aside.

In the same pot, add a little more oil if necessary, and add the onions. When they are soft and browning, add the chipotle and garlic. After a minute, add the dry spices and meat with accumulated juices. Turn to coat the meat well with the spices. Add the beef broth, honey and salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about an 1 hour or so. When the meat is just tender (but not falling apart), remove the lid and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid and thicken the sauce. It's okay to turn up the heat a little, but don't blast it to save time. When you reach the consistency you want, turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly before putting it in the fridge to cool completely. Reheat the next day and enjoy!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Darlene,

I've tried so hard to find you and Kim an now I've finally found you. I'll be in San Fran this coming weekend. Any chance of meeting up?
My details are on
Please call em or email me you details. I would love to keep in contact with you.