Yes, it can be chilly after a sleigh ride and there is nothing better to warm up with than a bowl of hot, homemade Chili Con Carne afterward! Nothing stirs up a great appetite better than lots of fresh country air!
PEI has seen its fair share (well, some might say, more than our fair share) of snow this winter. While, for some of us, the snow means work shoveling and challenges getting around and planning for events, for others it means business.
There are a number of farms on the Island that offer sleigh rides throughout the winter months. Thanks to Mother Nature sending lots of snow to the Island, this year has been exceptionally good for the sleigh ride business.
The photos of the sleigh ride that appear in this posting were all taken at Potts Farm in Bonshaw, on the South side of PEI. Their sleigh rides take you through fabulous trails of the woodlands of their farm.
Before we headed out to Potts Farm, I made this big pot of my favorite chili to have ready when we got home.
A chili con carne meal is very easy to prepare because it, essentially, is a meal in one pot. One of the things I like about chili is that it can be adapted according to ones likes and tastes. For example, if you don’t like green pepper, simply leave it out. To achieve a mild or spicy chili according to your taste preference, adjust the amount of chili powder and garlic added. I like my chili mild-flavored and full-bodied (as opposed to “runny”), meaning I like to add lots of ingredients like onions, celery, green pepper, fresh mushrooms, canned tomatoes, and kidney beans so that it is a nice, thick, chili but still has some juice to it. I also like lots of tomato flavor so, in addition to the canned tomatoes, I add both a can of tomato soup and one of tomato paste. Once all the chopping of veggies is done and the cans opened, it’s pretty much just a matter of combining them all in a soup pot and letting them simmer for a good hour or more to allow the flavors to mix and mingle.
Chili freezes well and I freeze it in individual, portion-sized containers to have ready for quick packing of the lunch bag on those weekday mornings when time is always at a premium. Add a crusty roll, bread, or biscuits, and it makes a substantial tasty and filling lunch.
My recipe for chili follows. My featured Island product in this recipe is the ground beef which I purchased at KJL Select Meats butcher shop that is co-located with Riverview Country Market in Charlottetown, PEI. If you are on PEI and have not yet had a chance to visit this butcher shop, I would encourage you to do so. They have great Island meat available.
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili Con Carne
2 tbsp oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ lb lean or extra-lean ground beef
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 – 14 oz. cans kidney beans, undrained
1 – 10 oz. can tomato soup
1 – 5½ oz. can tomato paste
1 – 2 tsp chili powder, to taste
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I use oregano flavoured from our local Liquid Gold store)
1 tsp liquid beef bouillon
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
In large pot, heat oil. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and minced garlic clove.
Quickly sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add ground beef and cook until browned.
Add remaining ingredients (including the canned tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato soup, and tomato paste and seasonings) except the mushrooms which will be added later.
Bring ingredients just to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer. Cover and slowly cook the chili for about 30 minutes, then add and stir in the sliced mushrooms.
Cover and simmer for another 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with French bread, crusty rolls, or homemade biscuits. If desired, garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and/or sliced green onions.
Yield: 8-10 servings
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