Every New Year’s Day I like to make a big pot of beans. In years gone by, it was a big pot of Pink Beans with hunks of left-over Christmas Ham. While a lot of people were dining on honey ham or glazed spiral ham, back in the day I had to have a good smoked ham because I knew the bone and scraps of meat would end up in a pot of beans come New Year’s Day.
Since returning to the Golden State of my birth, we haven’t been the ones to cook up the ham for Christmas. Most years, Dad did the honors. This year it was my youngest sister and her beautiful family that hosted Christmas Day. Those that host make the ham. And that was fine. I simply switched my traditional ham and beans to a big pot of rockin’ chili (made with a blend of spices, pinto beans, pink beans, lean ground beef and spicy pork chorizo). It really didn’t matter what kind of beans were consumed on New Year’s Day. The point was to have the beans and my guys enjoyed the ham and beans as well as the chili. Truth be told, Kiddo actually has a preference for the chili. I know, traditionally people of the south eat black-eyed peas on New Years. The Southern belief in the luck of the black-eyed pea can be traced back to the civil war. As legend has it, a town Mississippi ran out of food while under attack and cut off from the rest of the world. Rather than starve, the residents found a stash of black-eyed peas. From that day forward, Southerners viewed the black-eyed peas as “lucky”. Dad made a pot every year, but that’s a type of legume I’ve never been fond of eating. The way I see it, it’s the spirit of the bean that counts and not necessarily the type of bean itself. After all, most beans and peas are said to bring prosperity because seed-like appearance represent coins that swell when cooked. They are to be consumed on New Year’s Day with financial rewards in mind. The way in which the legumes are prepared and eaten varies from country to country and region to region, depending upon local ingredients and cooking styles. While I don’t put stock in these beliefs, I like the idea of customs and traditions.
This year, with health issues of my own, I wasn’t up to making a big pot of chili from scratch. All that picking through the beans, soaking and cooking – while the spirit was willing, my body simply wasn’t up to the task. So I cheated just a little. With a few added ingredients, I served up a rockin’ hot batch of “canned” chili that the family gobbled up. Kiddo made a pan of yummy Northern-Style Sweet Corn Bread to serve with our chili. It was a great start to the New Year.
Cheater’s Chili with Chorizo
1 Large Can Dennison’s Hot Chili (no other brand will do!)
1 lb Chorizo
1/4 White Onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeno Pepper, chopped (optional)
1/4 Cup Beef Stock
Grated Mild Cheddar Cheese for garnish
Additional Chopped onion, if desired, for garnish
Place Chili in a large pot over low heat.
Cook Chorizo meat, breaking into small pieces as it brown. Drain well and place in the pot with chili. Mix well.
Fry onions and Jalapeno pepper briefly in chorizo meat drippings (about 1 tablespoon of drippings is all that is needed) until tender-crisp.
Add onions and Jalapeno, mix again. Add beef stock, just enough to create a gravy-like consistency to the canned chili.
Cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, stirring pot as needed to prevent beans from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Note: This can be made in a crock pot. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or LOW for 2 hours. The longer the chili simmers, the more the flavors marry and become one. When using a crock pot, there is no need to tend the beans, simply let them cook until ready to serve. Serve straight from crock pot with cheese and chopped onions on the side for garnish.
Important Tip: When adding chorizo to any dish, remember to use good quality bulk sausage.