Speckled with red bell pepper and corn kernels, these corn muffins are waiting for a bowl of chili to happen.
With our time left in Point Hope numbered in weeks, we are going through the annual process of creating recipes based on what remains in our pantry. The last of the tri-tip roasts in our freezer inspired Jack to recreate his “Chili Done Large.” We’ll be closing out our lunches in style.
To accompany his chili, I brought out an almost-finished bag of corn meal. Usually the time-tested recipes on product packaging are pretty good, but this time relying on the maker’s recipe was a mistake. The corn muffins came out dry and bland. Time to create my own moist and flavorful version that would stand up to the merits of Jack’s flavor-packed chili con carne!
I wanted my muffins to have a rustic texture and also be moist. Coarse ground cornmeal and sour cream would be the key ingredients. The addition of whole sweet corn kernels added texture and complexity. Minced dried onions helped add another layer of flavor. And finally, I added dried bell peppers as “confetti” to give some color and zest to the muffins. A little butter smeared on to the muffins along with a drizzle of honey make these a satisfying balance to a bowl of spicy, smoky chili.
Sour Cream Double Corn Muffins
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- generous pinch salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tbsp applesauce
- 1 tsp dried minced onion
- 2 tbsp dried red bell peppers
- 1 cup thawed frozen corn
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 cup muffin tin. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together wet ingredients except for corn.
- Pour dry ingredients into wet and stir until just mixed.
- Fold in corn.
- Pour batter into muffin tin.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Muffins should be just browning on the outside. A toothpick inserted in center of muffin should come out clean to indicate doneness.
The end of summer and early fall are a time to cook big pots of winter food: chowders, soups, stews and chili to be canned or frozen and pulled out as needed over the coming months. We have a four-gallon, heavy-gauge stainless steel pot that is ideal for this kind of cooking. Three-and-a-half gallons equates to 56 cups, enough one-cup servings for 28 meals for the two of us.
No two pots of chili are ever the same. One year I might have three different kinds of beans to start with. Another year I might have only one kind. When we lived in California, I used fiery hot chili peppers we purchased at the Asian farmer’s market to give the chili a real kick. Other years, like this year, I’ve gone with a more mellow, savory blend of spices. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of chili and a hunk of fresh-baked cornbread slathered in butter when it’s negative 40 outside and the wind is howling.
*****Chili Done Large*****
- 12 cups dry beans (equal parts pinto and black work well)
- 3 1/2 pounds tri-tip steak cut into pieces that are approximately 1/2″ square and about 1/4″ thick.
- 1/2 lb thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
- 6 pounds diced tomatoes (with their liquid). Canned or fresh
- 24 ounces tomato paste
- 4 cups sweet corn
- 4 cups water (approximately)
- 10 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- 4 sweet onions (such as Mayan, Walla Walla or Vidalia) chopped coarse
- 1 tablespoon cumin (to mix with the tri-tip)
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin (to add to pot while cooking)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for mixing in with the tri-tip and cumin)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for pan-frying the tri-tip)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (for sautéing the onions & garlic)
- 1 tablespoon dry, crushed oregano
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (find this in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Soak the dry beans in a large pot. A good way to do this is to add about 3 times as much water as beans and bring the beans to a boil for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 6 to 8 hours. There’s nothing wrong with the thick, dark colored water this produces, but I pour it off to get a cleaner chili.
- Combine the tri-tip, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon cumin in a large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add the tri-tip mixture. Stir frequently until meat is cooked through. Pour the mixture back into the mixing bowl and set aside.
- Fry the bacon pieces over medium-high heat, just until done. (They should be tender, not crisp.) Remove from heat and drain on paper towel and set aside.
- In a glass (non-reactive) bowl, mix together the tomato paste and about 3 cups of water and set aside
- In a large, heavy-gauge pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions. Stir frequently until onions just begin to turn translucent and stir in the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste with the onions and garlic in the large pot.
- Stir in the beans and all the spices and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and cook for an hour on low heat.
- Stir in the bacon, the tri-tip and the sweet corn. Add a cup of water if the chili is too thick. Bring back to a simmer and give the chili a taste.
- Add additional seasonings as desired. Additional tomato paste will thicken the chili.
Chili is always better if you let it sit for a few hours or even a day or two before digging in. Ladle into bowls, top with shredded cheddar cheese, and serve with corn bread, sourdough bread, or crackers. Bring on the winter!