I believe I've posted it before; I love to cook and I love good food. It's a gray, rainy day here and that makes me crave comfort food. You know the kind of food that is hot off the stove or out of the oven and warms you through and through. In our family, comfort food is usually eaten with a spoon and is full of filling ingredients and a dash of love. In honor of comfort food I'm posting a couple of our family's favorite meals for cold, gray, rainy days.
Ham and White Bean Soup
1 pound dried navy beans (or any white bean)
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 pound ham pieces cut into bite sized pieces
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 carrots( shredded, chopped or diced)
3 stalks of celery (sliced, chopped or diced)
one onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
In a large pot, soak beans covered in water overnight. Drain and rinse beans and set aside. In dutch oven or heavy pot heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and saute 5 minutes until they are just translucent. Add carrots and celery and saute another 5 minutes until they are softened. Add thyme and garlic, saute about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add beans and toss just to coat with veggies before adding chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Test beans for doneness and then add ham. Increase heat for several minutes and heat ham through. Add salt and pepper to taste. This makes about 16 servings. Our family of 8 will often go for seconds and still have enough for lunch the next day.
You can also make this in a crockpot. Just do all steps through adding broth and water and cook on low to medium low all day. About 20 minutes before serving dinner add the ham so that it will be heated through.
Chili Con Carne
Two packages of stew meat (it is usually sold in cubes for stew or chili along side other cuts of beef)
3 to 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (you can use crushed tomatoes or petite diced tomatoes too)
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce minced (optional, but gives the chili a little heat and nice smokiness)
8 to 10 cups water
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add 1/4 of the meat and brown on all sides ( this should take about 5 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon. Add another 1/4 of the meat and repeat process, adding oil as needed until all meat is browned. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to now empty pot. Add onion and saute until soft and browned 8 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl put garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of water to make a chili paste. Add to onion still in pot and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and saute with spices until fragrant and tomato paste begins to darken, about 2 or 3 minutes. Re-add browned meat and toss to coat with onion and spices. Add tomatoes, water and lime juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook on low for 2 hours. Drain and rinse beans and add to chili. Stir until heated through. Our chili recipe is more on the soupy side. If your family prefers a thicker texture you can thicken by stirring in a slurry made from 2 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water. Garnish with lime wedges, chopped cilantro leaves, shredded cheese, sour cream, diced red onion, sliced jalapenos, tabasco, etc. Serve with Frito's Scoops or homemade cornbread. This will make 14-16 servings. Once again our family will often go for seconds at dinner and there will still be enough left over for a couple folks to have for lunch the next day.