I spent all week telling people that my neighbors were coming to visit me this weekend and got the strangest looks. My friends kept asking, “wait, you’ve met your neighbors?” and considering I’m separated from all of my neighbors by 500 ft. of woods, their confusion was justified. So then I had to explain, “No, no – they’re my best friends from home, but they’ve been my neighbors and, well, they still are.” And always will be! So what do you make when your lifelong neighbors come to visit? Spicy. Hot. Chili.
Mom, I won’t lie to you: I am amazing at chili. I never really make it the same, but I have a way, you know? Also, cooking with sous chefs is *amazing*. Especially since And & Meg are such good sous chefs. But seriously, I need to incorporate some friends into my dinners more often so I can have someone to boss around… So start by setting up chopping stations, and rejoicing that you won’t be carving any chunks out of your own fingers (sorry A&M, xo) (Although no one was injured, so yay!)
So we’ve got Andrea finely slicing a few scallions and separating the white bottoms from the green garnishy bits. She’s also dicing a pepper into bit sized chunks, and mincing two cloves of garlic.
While Andrea’s cutting up those, have Megan peel, zest, and quarter 1 lime.
Excellent. Now, Ma, I didn’t invite my friends to Long Island to have them do all the work – while they were dicing and mincing and zesting (oh my!) I was having a deep meditative experience over what I should include in my chili spice.
Here’s the key to a good chili mix: does it smell good? and does it smell hot? So I put 1-1/2 tbsp chili powder, 1-1/2 tbsp cayenne, t tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, a few shakes of peppercorn, and then the two key (but surprising) ingredients: a pinch of espresso powder and a pinch of cinnamon. When I asked Megan if it smelled good, I believe her reply was “It smells like spicy coffee!” This is good, Mom. You add the espresso, I don’t know why actually. You add cinnamon to almost anything you make with meat because it makes the meat super flavorful! Once you’ve mixed your chili spice, brown ground beef in a tbsp of olive oil.
Once the meat is browned, it’s time to fill everyone’s wine glass again – Whoops, I mean add your aromatics! Add the garlic, pepper, white parts of the scallions and spice mix to the beef and let this cook till it smells like your stomach is going to grow a pair of legs and start setting the table itself.
So we let this cook, work on our wine, catch up and have a good time. Then you strain 1 can kidney beans, 1 can black beans, and open up 2 cans of diced tomato. Add beans, tomatoes, 1 cup of water, lime zest, and juice from 1 quarter of the lime.
Let this simmer for a while. Remove from the heat and add avocado and however many lime quarters you want (I added two more)
Mix it all up then top with cheese and the green scallion slices. If I were fancy and rich I would probably use Cojita cheese, but I’m neither, so we used Stop and Shop 3 Cheese Shredded (Still delicious).
Both Andrea and Megan posted some pretty sweet Instagrams of our dinner:
But I really like the quote that Andrea wrote with her’s:
“Cooking is not about being the best or most perfect cook, but rather it is about sharing the table with family and friends”