Chili That’s A Winner for Super Bowl Sunday

Spicy Chili with a Cornbread Crust 1My grown son, Mike, makes fun of me because I am not “au courant” when it comes to sports, and in particular when the subject is pro football. While he can name every team in the NFC and the AFC, their wins and losses for the past season, and most of their players, I’m still trying to figure out who’s going to the Super Bowl!
What I do have, though, is a stash of recipes perfect for when my offspring wants to cook for his pals on Super Bowl Sunday. This year I’ve suggested a spicy chili with big robust flavors that easily and inexpensively will feed a crowd.
Although prepared with the usual suspects – ground beef, onions, beans, and a generous kick of heat from both chipotle and traditional chili powder – this chili is served in an unusual way. It is spread in a casserole dish, topped with a cheese-scented cornmeal batter, then baked. When done, the thin layer of cornbread is golden and light, and the rust-hued chili beneath, hot and spicy. A sprinkle of cilantro and a bowl of sour cream make complementary final touches.
Oh, and by the way, I do know who’s playing this Sunday in the big game—The San Francisco 49’ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Score one win for me!
Chipotle Chili Baked Under a Cornbread Crust
3 tbsp olive or canola oil, plus more if needed
2 lbs ground beef (85 % lean works well)
2 cups chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 to 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder  (1 tsp for a less spicy chili, and more for lots of heat)
Kosher salt
4 cups reduced-sodium beef stock, plus 1/2 to 1 cup extra if needed
One 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
Two 15.5-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large yellow bell pepper, stem, seeds, and membranes removed and pepper diced
Cornbread and Garnishes
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt          
1/2 tsp baking soda
l cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil          
1 cup (3 oz) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
5 tbsp chopped cilantro                      
1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1. For chili, heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, deep-sided pot (with a lid) set over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground beef and sauté, stirring often and breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the drippings in the pan and return to the heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes, adding more oil if needed. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Return the beef to the pan.
2. Combine the flour, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle chili powder, and 1 tsp salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the beef and onions, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and tomatoes; bring mixture to a low boil. Cover the pan, lower heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 15 minutes more.
3. Add the beans and yellow pepper to the chili. Raise the heat to high, and cook until liquids have nearly evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes or more. Season to taste with additional salt. (Chili can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, uncovered, while stirring over medium heat.)
4. When ready to bake the casserole, arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spoon the chili into a 9-by-13-in or a shallow 3 qt baking dish, and smooth evenly with a spatula.
5. For the cornbread batter, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and canola oil. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the liquids until blended, then stir in  1/2 cup of cheese and 3 tbsp of cilantro. Pour the batter over the chili in the pan and spread evenly with a spatula (the batter will be thin). Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the dish.
6. Bake until the cornbread topping is set and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp cilantro over the casserole and serve the chili with a bowl of sour cream.
Serves 6

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013

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