For some reason, Sid the ambulatory skeleton in my Family Skeleton series gets all the attention. He’s not all that colorful, being solid white thanks to frequent hydrogen peroxide sponge baths, and he isn’t exactly brainy because his skull is empty. And since beauty is only skin deep, I can’t honestly say he’s a looker. (Though he does have robust bone structure.) Besides for the purposes of this blog, he’s kind of useless--he doesn’t even eat, let alone cook.
No, for the culinary arts, we have to look at the real protagonist of the books: Georgia Thackery. Georgia is an adjunct faculty member and a single mother of a teenaged daughter, both of which are more-than-full-time jobs, even if she didn’t have a mystery-solving skeleton for a sidekick. That means her cooking has to be simple and fast and filling enough for those times when her daughter Madison hits a growth spurt. The recipe for Enamel Chili below is Georgia’s speciality and Madison’s favorite.
There are a couple of stories behind this recipe. First off, the name. I’m a member of a private Facebook group called Enamel Chili, and the guy who founded it challenged me and another writer in the group to fit the phrase “enamel chili” into our works-in-progress. So where Georgia had just been making dinner before, I changed it so that she was making Enamel Chili, chili so hot it’ll melt the enamel off your teeth. Second, the original chili recipe I’ve tweaked came from my brother-in-law John Holt. Not only is he a great guy and an excellent cook, but A Skeleton in the Family is dedicated to him.
So here’s Enamel Chili, and as Sid the Skeleton would say:
1 lb hamburger meat (can substitute turkey or chicken, or use a mix)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 15-oz can stewed tomatoes
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (optional--use for a thicker sauce)
1 diced small to medium onion
1 can red beans
1 can kidney beans (dark beans suggested, but you can use light if you prefer)
1 packet basic chili seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cumin and paprika to taste
1) Brown meat in a pan with vegetable oil.
2) While the meat is browning, mix tomatoes (both cans, plus the paste if using it), onion, beans (both cans), and spices in either a sauce pan or a crock pot.
3) When meat is browned, add it to the vegetable mixture.
4) If using a sauce pan, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for an hour. If using a crock pot, turn it on High, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 hours. (You can also cook in a crock pot all day on Low, but be sure to add 1/2 cup water.)
• Serve topped with cheddar cheese.
• Serve with rolls and a salad to make a good meal.
• Freeze leftovers to warm in the microwave for a fast meal.
Lucy says: Thanks for visiting Toni and Leigh! Toni is giving away two cool prizes, a copy of A SKELETON IN THE FAMILY, and this very cool "bone pan." To enter all you have to do is pin, tweet, or Facebook this post, and leave us a comment. Good luck!
(You can find Toni and Leigh on Facebook)