October 03, 2016

brown sugar chili and cheese grits

I feed a lot of folks at my house. Adults, families, teenagers, small groups, watch parties, you name it. And when it turns cool outside, THIS is one of my favorite go-tos to feed said folks.  I know, I know. Chili doesn’t get your motor going because it’s so “been there, done that.” But this chili has a few surprises and a spicy sweetness that sets it apart. AND THEN I spoon it over a shallow layer of cheese grits which really fills up bellies. Y’all. So many good things.

{serves about 8 with leftover chili for chili dogs}

-for the brown sugar chili-
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2lbs ground beef 80/20
1 14oz can dark red kidney beans
1 14oz can light red kidney beans
1 14oz can pinto beans
1 14oz can black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 4oz can tomato paste
1 4oz can chopped green chiles
1 packet chili seasoning
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

-for the cheese grits-
1lb velveeta, cubed
½  teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked 5-minute quick-cook grits
2 cups of water
2 cups of milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into about four pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons jarred chopped jalapenos and juice, optional

In a 5.5qt heavy-bottomed pot, saute onion in a swirl of olive oil until tender. Stir in garlic and saute until fragrant. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain just a bit of liquid off of the top of the cans of beans, and pour into the pot. Pour the tomatoes and chiles into the pot with the juice. Add in the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Bring just to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. Add a can of water if you prefer your chili more liquidy than thick.

Meanwhile prepare cheese grits. In a 4qt saucepan, bring water, milk, butter and salt just to a boil and whisk in grits, whisking constantly so they do not clump.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook grits until they've expanded and gotten creamy, about 7-8 minutes or so. Over low heat, stir in cheese and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted and grits are smooth. Stir in jarred jalapenos and juice. Taste as you go! Add more milk or butter a little at a time, stirring over low heat until the grits are creamy, creamy, creamy.

Serve in shallow bowls ladled with just enough grits to cover the bottom of the bowl, then filled with chili. Top with sour cream, chopped red onions, avocado slices, sliced scallions or whatever else sounds good!