Since the coronavirus pandemic first hit U.S. soil back in March 2020, a lot of people started to spend much more time preparing meals themselves at home. And that’s a good thing—as it lets you control the ingredients and eliminate harmful, ultra-processed foods from your diet.
I personally enjoy cooking at home. And, since I remain busy with my work and writing into the early evening on many weekdays, I try to employ a helpful prep technique the French call mise en place. It describes setting up ingredients in advance, or literally, “putting them in place.” I find it helps me stay on top of my meal-planning and cooking.
It really works…(though that’s not too surprising, considering the French do know a thing or two about cooking).
Many weekdays, I try to pull out and gather all the ingredients for dinner early in the morning or even the night before. Sometimes, I’ll dice the vegetables and season the meat in advance too, as it makes the dish even faster to pull together when the sun goes down and dinnertime comes around. (And—it allows time for the flavors of the ingredients to mix and enhance each other.)
This kind of simple, advance prep also allows me to pick up anything I might need or gives me time to make creative use of other items I might have at-the-ready on the kitchen counter, in the fridge, or in the pantry.
So, today, I’m happy to share one of my favorite quick-and-easy, one-pot, hot dishes to make at this time of year…
Try this spicy, winter dish packed with healthy nutrients
For this dish in particular, I typically pull out the ingredients in the morning and start cooking in the late-afternoon, after I’ve wrapped up my work and writing for the day. But if you prefer, you can start it in the morning and keep it simmering on low heat for hours (or in a slow cooker all day).
So, without further ado, here’s my recipe for Chili Con Carne.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 and ¼ lbs ground beef, pork, or a mixture of the two
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped, hot, red pepper with seeds
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (to reduce the spiciness, use chipotle powder, which is ground jalapeno pepper)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 20-ounce can beans (cannellini and or red kidney)
- 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)
- 14-ounces of beef broth
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 6 fresh lime wedges
- Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil into a large saucepan and turn the heat onto medium. Add chopped onions, peppers, and garlic, and simmer until fragrant. Then, add the ground meat(s).
- Cook for six minutes until the meat browns, stirring often to separate grounds.
- Stir in chili powder, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, black pepper, beans, diced tomatoes, and beef broth.
- Reduce the heat, simmer for 10 minutes, and stir in cilantro.
- Dish out the chili into bowls and serve with lime wedges. Keep hot sauce and black pepper on the table to add spiciness to taste.
(Note: For some reason, people think it’s healthier to use ground turkey in their chili. But that’s just nonsense. While there’s nothing wrong with organic, free-range, field-raised turkey, the nutrient compositions of beef and pork are in many ways better. And they taste better and are more flavorful in most dishes.)
I find this quick, simple dish brings a lot of comfort to the dreary, dark, winter evenings. Plus, it contains many healthy nutrients, including essential fats, proteins (from beans and meats), lycopene (from tomatoes), vitamin C (from cilantro, peppers, and limes), capsaicin (from hot peppers), and the unique ingredients in onions, garlic, black pepper, oregano, and cumin.
Even after the coronavirus fizzles out, I hope you continue cooking your meals at home as much as possible, as more new research out of George Washington University shows there’s a strong link between a diet high in ultra-processed, “convenience foods” and poor health outcomes.
Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)