A couple of days late in posting this, but the chili took longer to cook than I expected.  After a lat start to Sunday morning, I grabbed the beans, the crackpot, and spices and set about making chili.  My plan was to put half of each 16oz bag of beans into the mix but hubby wanted me to use them all.  So, dumped three kinds of beans into the pot, spices, liquid, and turned on the crackpot.  Hours crept by, beans being stirred, and liquid added as required.  Around 2 or so, I realized that the beans would NOT be done in time for the big game. 

So I decided to order pizza and let the bean finish until they were at a point I could separate half of them out for chili some time later this year.  WP_20130204_001 I will admit the beans looked great.  Plump, rich, and still having texture.  Beans separated, cooled, and stored we went to bed.  Monday morning I started the beans again, fried the meat, and added the remainder of chili ingredients needed for dinner that night.  Here my culinary skills let me down after a bout of torturous heartburn last week.  Although I spiced the meat, the beans, and re-spiced the beans I couldn’t bring myself to actually taste the chili.  I know makes no sense right?  After all, I was going to eat it for dinner that night and was looking forward to it the night before and yet, I never managed to dip a spoon and check the seasonings. 

WP_20130204_003 It looked right, smelled wonderful and so I foolish thought it would be alright.  It wasn’t.  It was BLAND.  And by BLAND, I mean it tasted like my spices had been locked away and sent to the moon.  It was fixable but it was bland.  That bowl of from-scratch chili wouldn’t give even the most sensitive stomach heartburn sadly. 

But there is an upside, all cooks need to be reminded sometimes that there is truly no substitute for tasting to check for spices – even if you’ve made the dish a thousand times before.  I’m lucky, it was chili that reminded me and chili is easily one of the most forgiving and easily fixed dishes around.



my first experience with a mixer attachment

My beloved snapshot digital camera died in earlier December and I have struggled to find a replacement I am comfortable using.  I have finally found one, however it is a cell phone.  It takes amazing pictures so I cannot complain. 

Last weekend, my husband bought me a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid.   WP_20130202_002   It has been a long and horrible week here so I didn’t get an opportunity to use the attachment until yesterday afternoon.  My tri-tip roast was pre-cut and trimmed and awaiting me in the refrigerator.

WP_20130201_002 There it is, installed and ready to grind my tri-tip into delicious ground beef.  I grabbed the precut beef, took a sip of tea, and prepared to venture into the land of grinding my own meat for the first time.  I was pleasantly surprised at how simple the entire process was and how juicy.  Seriously, was not prepared for the occasional blood spatter from the grinder, but to be perfectly honest, I was secretly pleased.  The meat was juicy and deep red, all signs of good, healthy, fresh beef.  I used the course grind setting.  I prefer a courser ground beef for meals like spaghetti or chili.WP_20130201_005

The 3.5 pounds of tri-tip easily gave us four meals for future use.  WP_20130201_008 Three of those meals where placed in cling film and placed in the freezer.  WP_20130201_009 The portions are uneven on purpose, different meals require different amounts of ground beef.  Super Bowl Sunday I am probably making chili from scratch, completely from scratch that is, and it will get the largest portion of meat.  Chili requires good meat and beans to end up as the perfect bowl of flavor perfection.  Hopefully, my first attempt at scratch chili ends up being worthy of the delicious meat I will put into it.

The last portion I set aside and grabbed some love, aka bacon, from the refrigerator.  WP_20130201_006 

I then used up the three slices of bacon left in the the refrigerator.  I then proceeded to grind the bacon into the ground beef.  I placed the bacon and beef into the freezer to cool for about 30 minutes.  After disassembling, again surprisingly easy, and washing the grinder I changed the extruder to the fine grind option and proceeded to put grind bacon and beef into a delicious mixture for dinner.  I chilled and reground the mixture another time.  I wanted to ensure that there was a good incorporation of bacon into beef and vice versa.

The burgers were delicious, sorry no pictures they smelled too good to stop and snap a photo.  My husband was moaning in burger ecstasy before I even had a chance to take a first bite.  However, I have to agree with his assessment.  The burgers were amazing.  Juicy, no bacon sliding off, deep bacon flavor, and fresh.  The burger were small (about the size of my palm) and not very thick, they didn’t need to be large to be amazing.  It will now be a rare thing to go out for burgers and I know we will not be purchasing ground beef anytime soon.

Here are my tips for efficient use of the grinder attachment:

  1. Trim silver skin and fat from meat – how much fat to trim is personal preference
  2. Colder the meat is the better it grinds – not frozen solid, but definitely very, very cold
  3. Bacon – trim most of the fat, it tends to clog the grinder as it warms up.  Thick slices will probably be easier to work with than thin (aka normal bacon)
  4. Small, thin cuts of meat work best

Overall, I am more than pleased with the grinder and my results.  I am looking forward to chili tomorrow, pictures and results on Monday.