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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hunger Challenge Chili Recipe

Hunger Challenge Chili
Hunger ChallengeThis is one of the cheapest meals I know how to make. There are a lot of tricks to make it taste good without using very many ingredients. Chili is all about layers or flavor and texture and spice. While texture is not the hardest thing to achieve on a budget, flavor and spice are a bit trickier. To make up for the lack of complexity in the spices, I overcompensated in the texture department and also tried to get the most flavor out of the ingredients I could afford.

I like some fresh vegetables in my chili so I used one Anaheim chile and half of a large onion. I also used mushroom stems. Surprise! I will use the caps for another recipe and I would have just discarded the stems. Mushrooms, even just the crumbled stems, lend savory "umami" flavor and also meaty texture. Speaking of meaty texture, this is not a purely vegetarian chili. It has two slices of bacon which might not seem like much, but it adds a bit of meatiness and fat for cooking the vegetables.

I used a combination of white beans and red beans which made it more visually appealing. The beans were cooked from dry beans so I spent less money than if I had bought canned beans. I also used one can of corn. I bought a 2 1/2 ounce packet of ground New Mexico chile powder I found in the Hispanic food section of the store. I used 3 Tablespoons but you could use less or more to taste. Likewise the amount of salt you use will vary depending upon your taste. I only used one clove of garlic which was probably a mistake. I would recommend at least two.

Because I cooked all the beans earlier, the chili comes together quickly. I normally don't buy diced tomatoes because they don't break down very well, but in this case that was fine. I primarily chose them because they had "mild green chiles" in them and I was looking for all the flavor I could find.

Frankly this chili isn't all the different from my normal everyday vegetarian version, though it has a lot less spice. Depending upon your serving size, you could certainly add cilantro, chopped green onions and a tiny bit of cheese on top of each serving and still stay on budget.

Hunger Challenge Chili
$3.68 for 4 servings


2 slices bacon, diced .58
1 Anaheim chile pepper, diced .29
1/2 onion, diced .11
1 clove garlic .05 (I would recommend adding more)
3 Tablespoons ground New Mexico chile powder .30
Mushroom stems from an 8 oz pkg of mushrooms (no cost since they would normally be discarded)
2 cups water
1 can diced Mexican style tomatoes .98
2 cups cooked red beans (1/4 lb dried) .31
2 cups cooked white beans (1/4 lb dried) .31
1 can corn .75

Generous toppings for 1 serving, about 35¢
cilantro .05
cheese .24
green onions .06


Heat a large dutch oven and saute the bacon for a few minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the onions and pepper and continue cooking until they are soft and onions are golden. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes then add the chili powder, water and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the beans and corn. Simmer another 10 minutes and season aggressively with salt.