Chili Champs

Today I was the guest chef at cook n00b and we made chili! In the beginning, I got a little overwhelmed by everyone asking me what they could do, but after a minute everyone had a job they seemed to be happy with. (Plus, the chopping went much faster with everyone pitching in.) The chili turned out delicious, as it always does. Honestly the best part about chili is that it’s almost impossible to mess up. Here’s the “recipe” we used:

Chop 2 medium yellow onions. Put one large pot on medium-high heat and after about 30 seconds, add the onions and 2 lbs of ground beef to the pan (the pan should be hot enough to make the onion and meat sizzle). Let the meat brown all the way.

As the meat is browning, chop 2 green and 1 red pepper. Personally, I prefer jalapeno peppers to regular green ones but today we went with the non-spicy peppers, so as to appeal to a wider range of humans. Set the chopped peppers aside. Gus, Timo, Douglas, and Nahla did most of the chopping.

When the meat is all brown with no red in it, add the spices. We used the spices from this chili kit but as long as you’ve got cumin and paprika you can throw in whatever you want and it’ll still be chili, promise. Iphy and Hannah stirred the chili as I added the spices, which helped distribute them pretty evenly throughout the meat.

Then add one large can of crushed tomatoes, 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 cans of kidney beans, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn (all drained, except the tomatoes, obviously). I also added a tomato-can’s-worth of water and a little masa flour so it would thicken up nicely.

We let that cook for about 15 minutes, then added the peppers and cooked them till they were soft (about 10ish more minutes – the best way to tell is a taste test). For sides, we made rice and cornbread (from a box, because I’m not fancy enough to know how to make cornbread from scratch). Ryan made the rice which was particularly awesome because whenever I make rice on the stove, I burn at least a little of it to the bottom of the pot.

That’s it! Chili is more art than science, so trust your taste buds and don’t be afraid that you’re gonna over-season or overcook it (in fact, I prefer to cook my chili for about an hour – just be sure to add more water if you plan on cooking it for a long time). I particularly recommend making it while nervously putzing around your kitchen because it’s Sunday afternoon and the Giants are playing terribly – chopping is a great distraction from football-induced rage and then you get to eat comfort food when they lose. Happy Chili everyone!

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Mel

Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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