As a single guy, I eat dinner out more often than I really should. While I love to cook, time on weeknights is a precious commodity as I’m sure it is for you as well.
As such, I am resolved to pass along to you with some regularity dishes that can be easily made on a weeknight and enjoyed with as little work contributed, dishes dirtied and time wasted as possible.
The first of my go-to weeknight dishes is one of my favorites: chili.
When it comes to my chili, I start by dicing half a large sweet (Vidalia, if available) onion and adding it to my largest (6 quart) sauté pan which has already been heated over medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil. I then add a 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt and sauté for two to three minutes. I then add approximately a pound of lean ground beef (mine is a 93/7 lean to fat ratio) to brown. I say approximately a pound because I rarely find an exact pound of ground beef in my grocer’s meat case. I have made this dish with as little as 3/4 pound to 1 1/4 pound of ground beef and have never really noticed a difference in the end.
As the ground beef browns, I add my other seasonings besides the salt:
- 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
As you add each seasoning, stir the ground beef to keep it moving and help incorporate each addition.
Once the beef is browned (it generally takes 10-12 minutes), I then add my other ingredients:
- 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 15 ounce can of reduced-sodium black beans (this recipe has plenty of sodium – no need for more)
- 16 ounce can of chili beans in mild sauce
- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup of chili sauce (the “spicy cousin” to ketchup)
- 8 ounces of water
As with the spices, I stir the mixture after adding each additional ingredient. So you know what to expect and how to plan on a busy weeknight, at this point it had taken me 27 minutes from the time I started dicing the onion at the beginning of this recipe.
Once all the ingredients are in the pan and you have stirred it well, leave it to cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. You’ll want to stir it at least once while cooking.
After those 20 minutes, taste the chili (careful – it will be hotter temperature-wise than it looks). If you have small children or those who are sensitive to spicy dishes, you may wish to remove their servings at this point. If you enjoy things a little spicier you can add some more heat by adding an additional 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, red chili flakes and/or your favorite hot sauce. If you have made any additions, let the chili cook an additional 5 minutes before serving.
This dish will easily serve three or four adults. You can garnish each serving with sour cream, grated cheese, diced fresh onion, jalapenos, crackers or tortilla chips to your liking. My favorite way to serve it is with freshly-baked corn bread crumbled on top.
Any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to three days. It also freezes well.
I hope this gives you one more recipe for your weeknight arsenal. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.