The week we moved to Shanghai, there was a very chilly cold snap. The locals were going around bundled in full winter gear, and Walker and I had boxes of things to unpack before we could unearth our winter coats. The cold snap really had me craving some comfort food, and I finally found a recipe which would satisfy the need for something warm and spicy with a little taste of home: mashed potatoes poured on top of chili made with Guinness and baked in the oven until perfectly browned.

Ingredients

  • 6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoons crushed chili pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons cumin
  • 1.5 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 bottle Guinness
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 7 scallions, white parts finely sliced (use tender green parts for garnish)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Monterrey jack, shredded

Preparation

In a large pot, boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender.

While the potatoes are coming up to a boil, preheat a deep skillet or wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and ground beef and crumble up the meat as it cooks for about 8 minutes, until brown and caramelized.

Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt and tomato paste to the meat and cook another 5 minutes. Wait until you can smell the tomatoes, then add the beer and stock, and stir to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened. Season the chili with salt to your taste (I almost never use any, so I have omitted it here).

Once the potatoes are done cooking, drain and return them back to the same pot. Place the potatoes back over the heat, shaking them around a bit to dry them out. Add the butter and the whites of the scallions to the potatoes, and sauté the scallions 1-2 minutes, until tender.

Remove the potatoes from the heat then add in the milk, egg yolks, salt and ground black pepper. Mash them up with a fork. Fold the cheese into the potatoes and allow it to melt.

Now for the kidney beans. I’ve always been told that the sign of bad chili is soggy beans. To avoid this problem, add them in at the last minute, and incorporate until they are warmed through. You want them to be the same temperature as the chili, but don’t simmer them.

At this point the chili should be ready to be poured into a casserole dish and topped with the cheesy scallion potatoes. For our lifestyle, a casserole is pretty useless. I’m only ever cooking for two people, and so instead of a casserole dish, I use individual sized ramekins. Place the chili casserole or ramekins into the oven and brown the top, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with the reserved green scallion tops and your favorite chili toppings (mine are avocado, and sour cream) and serve.

This dish is also perfect for freezing. The dish made 6 individual servings, so I baked those and froze the rest. When I wanted some heartwarming, I just pull one of the ramekins out and pop it in the oven until the top is brown and the juices are bubbling.

Other uses:

Alone, the chili would make a great sloppy joe sandwich, and the mashed potatoes could easily stand on their own as a quick and easy side dish!

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