Yes, that’s right, MY first recipe!
When the idea struck I grabbed my camera and there was no stopping me!
I know I said I would be using other people’s recipes (which I will be most of the time), but all this planning for “Apples” and cooking for Oktoberfest inspired me. Tuesday afternoon came along, my girls went down for their naps, and I didn’t know what to make for dinner. I had recently bought ingredients to make cornbread. Okay, so, cornbread…. sounds yummy! We can’t just eat cornbread though… (well, I guess we could, but I thought I better add something else just in case) :). I scanned the fridge and freezer and found some bratwurst I had defrosted several days before. Okay, so… a bit strange perhaps, but a bratwurst and cornbread dinner it is!
Then it struck me… bratwurst can be taken out of its casing! I thought it could probably be used like ground beef. What has ground beef in it and goes with cornbread? CHILI! I scanned the fridge and pantry for all the other things I would need and I decided to go for it!
And that’s how my first recipe: “Bratwurst Chili” came to be!
I jotted down ingredients and amounts as I went along and took pictures so I would remember the process. I had no car and no time to go shopping before dinner, so I really was working from my fridge, freezer and pantry. If you make this recipe you will most likely have to head to the store for a few items but I promise none of them are expensive or excessive! This chili turned out SO much better than I expected. I mean, it was my first recipe and I was banking on it being a flop. I had the frozen pizza back-up idea all lined up! Truly, you have to try this–the bratwurst gives the chili amazing flavor.
You’re gonna love it!
Okay, here’s how you make it:
You can see my pantry/ fridge raid above (I actually ended up thickening the chili with regular flour instead of the Masa Harina (the corn flour) that I’d originally pulled out. There’s also something else I’d add if I were to make this again, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
The first thing you’ll need to do is grab a garlic bulb and your trusty Chef’s Knife. I feel ridiculous admitting this, but I remember the first time I made a recipe that called for garlic cloves. It said “2 garlic cloves” and so when I went to the store I grabbed two of what I thought were garlic cloves. What I actually had grabbed was 2 garlic bulbs. When I got home I started peeling away and about 20 cloves in I decided that all this garlic seemed a bit excessive. Luckily I realized my mistake before actually cooking the meal… that would have been a bit too much garlic for the dish I was making… and I only used 2 cloves of garlic and not 30 (haha). Just a bit of a difference! So, if you have never had to figure out the difference between a bulb and a clove before, here it is:
On the left is a bulb of garlic, which contains several cloves of garlic. On the right is one clove that I broke away from the garlic bulb.
Break 6 garlic cloves off the bulb. You will need to peel them. If you try to do it with just your fingers you will get frustrated fast and you might give up (and yes, I speak from experience). Luckily, there’s a much easier way to get that stubborn skin off each of the cloves (and you can get out any pent up anger in the process):
First, cut off the root end of the clove (I actually had forgotten to do that in the picture above). Then, put the flat side of your Chef’s knife on top of one of the cloves (see ABOVE). Hold the knife with your left hand (non-dominant hand) and give the clove a quick pound with your right hand. Don’t smash it completely but hit it hard enough that it slightly smashes it. This should allow you to grab and peel off the skin fairly easily. Repeat this process with the other 5 cloves.
Now you need to mince all 6 cloves of garlic. You can watch a “How to crush, slice, and mince garlic” video here. It will also show you how to peel the cloves, as well!
Basically, to mince the garlic you need to give the garlic cloves another slight crush with the side of your Chef’s knife and then give it a rough chop:
Then, hold your knife with the blade on the board, and put your other hand on top of the knife to hold it down and steady it.
Using a rocking motion, move the blade back and forth across the garlic so that it continues to get chopped into smaller and smaller pieces.
Keep moving back and forth with your rocking/chopping motion until all the garlic is chopped super fine (minced!) Put it in a small bowl or push it into a pile on the side of your cutting board and grab a small onion.
Usually I would have a specific method for slicing, dicing, or mincing an onion, but in this case you TRULY don’t have to worry about your knife skills. Lop off both ends of the onion and peel it:
Give the onion a rough slice/ chop. No uniformity or precise cuts needed. Just break it down a bit:
Toss the onion into a blender:
Add two tablespoons of Chili Powder,
And one teaspoon EACH dried Oregano, Cumin, & Salt:
Finally, add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) boiling water to the mixture AND…
Add 8 ounces (1 cup) tomato sauce (I didn’t have this but I still wanted the tomato flavor in there… so I added marinara instead):
Put the lid on tightly and pulse the mixture a couple of times (hold the lid on firmly with one hand while you press the “pulse” button). Anytime you put hot liquid in the blender you risk it exploding and pulsing the mixture a couple of times helps reduce the chances of this. After you’ve pulsed it a few times, hit the blend button (while still holding down the lid to be safe). Blend the mixture for about 10-15 seconds. Set this mixture aside, you’ll need it soon!
Now it’s time to prep the BRATWURST! I let mine sit out during this prep time so it wouldn’t be so cold when it hit the hot pan to cook. You’ll need 1 1/2 lbs of bratwurst (I used 6 links). You’ll need to remove the bratwurst from its casing before cooking it. Here’s how you do it:
Cut a slit down the side of the bratwurst first. This should break the casing and allow you to peel it off more easily:
Use your fingers (they are one of your best kitchen “tools”), and peel off the casing from each bratwurst.
When you’re done you’ll have a pile of casings and a pile of bratwurst. Discard the casings. You’ll also have your minced garlic from before either on your board (like me) or in a bowl nearby. It’s time to use it!
Heat a dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil (or other unflavored oil) and 1/2 tablespoon butter to the pan. The oil will help the bratwurst to brown and the butter will give it more FLAVOR!
Wait 3-4 minutes for the butter to melt and for the pan to get nice and hot (this may be shorter or longer depending on your stovetop). Then, throw the bratwurst into the pan with all the minced garlic. You should hear a “sizzle” when the meat hits the pan.
Prepare yourself for a DELICIOUS smell!
Now, you can use a wooden spoon to break up the bratwurst, but I used a potato masher and it broke them down quickly and easily. If you have a potato masher… TRY IT!
After breaking down the meat, use a wooden spoon to continue stirring it around every couple minutes until all of it has browned. Now it’s time to add in the onion, tomato sauce, spice mixture you made earlier in the blender:
Be sure to scrap as much of that sauce as you can from the blender with a spatula. Stir this around to combine the sauce fully with the crumbled bratwurst. YUM!
Turn the heat to medium-high and add in 1 cup beef broth. Mine came from a box in my pantry so it was already at room temperature. If you’re going to use a box that was in your fridge, just let it come to room temperature or heat it up in the microwave before adding it to the hot pot. Just don’t add it in COLD!
It’s starting to look like…. CHILI!!
There’s two more ingredients: 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar (packed and leveled). NOW comes the ingredient I forgot to add: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. If you like less heat then just add 1/4 teaspoon and if you like more heat add 1 full teaspoon of it (or more!!) Then, stir well to combine one last time.
Now comes the hardest part: Once the chili comes to a boil turn the heat down to low, put the lid on and…
Let the chili simmer at that low temperature for 1 hour. After 30 minutes or so take a peek at the chili, give it a stir, and check to make sure it has not become overly dry. This shouldn’t happen but if it does add 1/4 cup of room temperature water to the pot and stir to keep the chili moistened.
While your chili is simmering, open your cans of beans:
I used kidney, pinto, AND black beans (each a 15 oz can) but you can use whichever of these you like. You can use just two cans of beans if you like less beans in your chili but I like the variety so I added all three! You’ll see in the picture (ABOVE) that I took out my can opener, a fine mesh strainer (or sieve), and a fairly large empty container. You’ll need to open all the cans of beans, rinse and drain them over the sink, and toss them all together in a container until it’s time to add them to the chili.
I shook the sieve gently under the water for 15-20 seconds to rinse each can of beans and then gently shook it with the water off for a bit to let as much water as possible drain from the beans. Here I am rinsing the black beans:
After rinsing all three cans I was left with this:
After the chili simmers for 1 hour, put your 1/4 cup flour into a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of water. Combine this mixture completely and then add it to the chili, stirring with your wooden spoon to incorporate it (this will slightly thicken the chili). Then, add in your prepped bowl of beans, give it one more gentle stir, and let the chili simmer 10 minutes more with the lid off.
Finally, TASTE the chili and adjust the seasonings (this means: add more salt if it needs it, more cayenne if you need a bit more heat, or leave it be if you like the seasoning). At this point you can also add a bit more water if you think the chili is too thick for your taste or a bit more water/flour mixture if it’s too thin for you. Remember it will slightly thicken when it cools a bit!
MAKE-AHEAD: You can make this meal ahead by cooking all the way up to the point where you add the beans in. Just allow the chili to cool, put it in 2 gallon Ziploc bags and allow it to freeze flat. When you’re ready to serve it just take it out of the freezer, cut away the bags, and put the frozen chili in a large pot. Put the pot over medium heat on the stove top and add 1/2 cup water into the pot. While the chili is defrosting you can open, rinse, and drain your canned beans of choice. Check the chili once as it defrosts and add in more water (1/4 cup at a time) to thin it out if needed. When it’s completely defrosted and you’re happy with the consistency, bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a low heat to simmer. Add in the beans you’ve rinsed and drained and let it simmer for 10 minutes. I love make ahead meals!
Now, the BEST part: Serve up the chili with your toppings of choice and ENJOY!
If you make it, let me know what you think 🙂
Enjoy your meal!