Six O’Clock Solution: Beef chili, but with toppings to dress it up

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A batch of chili in the refrigerator or freezer is like money in the bank. It’s about the easiest emergency food you can produce, and most people like it.

The ChopChop Family Cookbook: Real Food to Cook and Eat Together (Storey/Hahette, $24.99) has a good recipe that makes a large amount and includes eight toppings like black olives, avocado and shredded cheese to dress it up.

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Author Sally Sampson, who runs a Massachusetts cooking magazine, calls it Tex-Mex cuisine; the rest of us will simply consider it well-seasoned.

This is a handy cookbook of more than 150 recipes to use when you are bored with your usual salads (it includes a series of sustaining salad recipes), and such helpful tips as how to cut up cabbage, watermelon or bell pepper and how to roast vegetables. It could be used to teach beginners how to cook. Photographs by Carl Tremblay show the food well prepared. 

Beef chili

Serves 6

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons (10 mL) chili powder

2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cumin

2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried oregano

1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon (5 mL) red pepper flakes

1 pound (500 g) ground beef, turkey or pork, or a combination

4 cans (19 ounces/540 mL each) dark red kidney beans, drained, rinsed (about 6 cups/1.5 L) beans

2 cans (28 ounces/796 mL each) diced tomatoes, including juices

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, just until golden and tender, about 15 minutes.

Add peppers, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

Push vegetables to side of pot and add beef to oil in 4 batches, stirring each addition until browned. Cook each addition for about 5 minutes. 

Add beans and tomatoes and their juices, stirring well. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour or more, being careful mixture does not dry out.

Chili may be cooked, covered and refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen for three months.

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