As Dirk and I embark on our first camping trip of the season, I must leave you, dear readers for 5 days. It’s probably for the best. I doubt we have internet access where we are headed, and the whole point of getting away with car, camp gear and dog is pretty obvious.
But, before I leave tomorrow morning, I want to leave you with a recipe for a dish we are taking with. (The other recipes, which I have prepared and documented, will have to wait until I return next week to hit the internet.)
Although the emphasis is on camping this week, the recipes can all be made and enjoyed in your home kitchen, as they have been prepared in my little, meager 4’x8′ cooking space. Even since I have lived on my own, and cooked in various kitchens for a living, (most of them small), I rather find a tighter, smaller fit, well, a proper fit.
This is not to say that when I am privy to cooking in family and friend’s larger, spacious and very well equipped kitchen’s I don’t find myself yearning for that, because honestly? I do. I dream about those lovely spaces. Constantly. But for now, this is my reality, and I will deal with what is.
Speaking of spaces, ours is about to grow, profoundly. The outdoor living area in our campsite will be grand enough to view the clear, dark skies which only highlight the stars as they shine close to our tent. The flames of our campfire will jump and dance with great strength and colors, warming us through. The tales we tell throughout the night may even grow themselves, as the wine and song fill our ever expanding hearts and souls.
So, it is only proper that our nights of camping call for big, grand food. I have adapted a very favorite dish of ours to embrace the rich, deep colors and feelings of the great outdoors.
I love campfire chili, not to be confused with New Mexican, or Mexican chile. This is chili and beans. Tex Mex, I guess is probably a better comparison. This trip I prepared this dish with Bison, a hearty, grand red meat. Despite its lean calories and iron rich nutrition, the well rounded flavor and richness of the meat stands up to the red wine and cocoa (!) I add to the dish. The result? A bowl of beans and meat that while lean, is robust, round, rich and perfect with a good glass of Zinfandel and a roaring fire.
Throw another log on the fire. There is more wine to finish.
I rarely eat red meat these days, but when I do, I want it to be worth it. This dish fits the bill. I have always been a fan of more meat than beans ratio when I make chili, so I use 2 pounds in this recipe. If you prefer, you could cut back to just 1 pound, and I am sure it would still be rockin’.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 pounds ground bison (or any meat you like, ground sirloin, turkey, etc.)
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 2 – 14.5 cans diced tomatoes
- 2 – 14.5 canned beans, your choice (black, pinto, red, etc), drained
- 1 cup red wine
In large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, garlic and bell peppers; saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and cook out slightly, about 5 minutes. Add ground meat. Turn up heat to medium high and saute all ingredients until meat is cooked through. Drain any fat, if necessary.
Add wine and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove lid, add beans and continue to cook over low simmer, without lid for an additional 30 minutes. Taste, and season as necessary.
At this point, the chili can be cooled, then refrigerated for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen, up to 2 months.
This dish will get better with time, so if you must eat this the day you prepare it and you have leftovers, they will taste even more epic a day or two later!
Feeds a campfire crowd of 8 to 10. If you cut this recipe in half, you will feed a normal household of 4 with little or nothing to spare.