I first cooked my Quick and Cheap Chili Dinner the first time I went to Chicago for a vacation. I remembered having only seen a light dusting of snow that time. The temperatures there had been “mild”, according to the locals, mostly in the high 20s and low 30s. My “big coat”, the one that makes me look like the Michelin Man wrapped in a hefty black bag, had only been necessary a handful of evenings.
And somehow, that evening disappointed me because it didn’t snow. My imagination promised me heaps of pristine fluffy flakes begging to be stomped on, scooped up and rolled around in. I have a scenario playing in my head where I wore a scarf and earmuff, frolicked and romped through the snow while bouncy pop music chirped about the glory of love.
That snow didn’t happen that day until the day after when we got over 6 inches of snow. I’d only gotten a little bit of frolicking in, but I have to say that I found myself grinning and even giggling when I walked down the street.
I stomped into the snow banks, and I didn’t care that my boots got all messy. It was my first time experiencing snow in Chicago, and I pretty much loved everything about it.
And all of this was to set up my new favorite winter dish, this super Quick and Cheap Chili Dinner recipe I tweaked from an Internet site. I added some ground meat to it, but you could just omit that part if you want to keep it vegetarian. I love the addition of bulgur because it adds a little more heft to this Quick and Cheap Chili Dinner dish. It sticks nicely to the ribs.
Quick and Cheap Chili Dinner
- ½ large lemon juice
- 1 large jalapeño - seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ pound ground beef (minced beef) - optional. Use beef or pork, whatever you have
- 1 large yellow onion - chopped
- 1 large green pepper (green capsicum) - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (chilli powder in British English)
- 1 14.5- ounce tomato - I like the ones with Mexican spices or adobo seasoning
- 1 15- ounce red kidney beans - rinsed
- Prep work: Juice the lemon, slice the green onion, seed and chop the jalapeño, and chop the onion, bell pepper and garlic.
- In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the bulgur and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep the bulgur covered for 10 minutes. The water should soak into the grains. Stir in the lemon juice, jalapeño, a nice glug of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- While the bulgur is cooking, brown the meat in a large pan or a pot over medium-high heat. If you are not using the meat, then just heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and skip to the next step.
- Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything to combine and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their liquid and 1½ cups water to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the rinsed beans and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Divide the chili into bowls and top with the bulgur mixture.