Chili, dressed the way you like it, is the eas­i­est route to din­ner

Merced Sun-Star - - Explore - BY BEN MIMS

Sev­eral years ago, my part­ner and I spent a month in San Antonio, where his fam­ily lives. We were both un­em­ployed at the time, so we spent the days driv­ing around the city, ex­plor­ing and eat­ing all the won­der­ful food. We con­sumed a lot of chili.

We ate the “authen­tic” kind, con­sist­ing of cubed beef chuck or sir­loin cooked in a mole-like gravy of hy­drated and pureed dried chiles, and we ate plenty of the TexMex kind, in which ground beef stands in for cubed and is sea­soned with ground chili pow­der made from a mix of dried chiles, but of­ten of the New Mex­ico va­ri­etal.

Beans and to­ma­toes – highly con­tentious in­gre­di­ents to add to chili in Texas – were found in sev­eral it­er­a­tions we tried.

Af­ter sam­pling so many, we de­cided that the ground beef ver­sion with beans – but with tomato paste and not canned to­ma­toes – was our fa­vorite. It has been a sta­ple of our quick week­night din­ners ever since. Con­sist­ing of just ground beef, beans and spices, it’s in­cred­i­bly easy to ex­e­cute for be­gin­ner cooks

(there’s noth­ing to even chop!) and is ready from start to fin­ish in un­der 30 min­utes.

Once it’s ready, we dole it out in bowls and top it with cheese, sour cream and diced av­o­cado.

We use red onions and scal­lions be­cause I like the sharp bite of the former and the vivid color of the lat­ter.

BEN MIMS Los Angeles Times/TNS

Lots of crunchy, sharp and creamy top­pings turn a sim­ple bowl of beef chili into din­ner in an in­stant.

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