Chili and Baked Potatoes

“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.”
Harry James
Curtis Stone Midwestern Chili

It has been years since I’ve made chili stuffed baked potatoes and I know someone would just love to have that for dinner so while I was gathering Curtis Stone recipes to make in the future I came across a Midwestern Chili Stuffed bake potato recipe on the list that I have yet to try. You can easily make the chili ahead of time like a day or two before, bake the potatoes the night that you want to serve them and simply reheat chili and get your favorite garnishes together. Green onions, cheese, sweet onions and cheese are always some of our favorites and I add either sour cream or tangy Greek yogurt. Sliced jalapeños and Hatch Chili salsa very popular with me and spicy food eaters.

I prefer little chunks of meat in my chili and Michael likes ground beef so I always have some of each on hand for chili, a small steak of choice cubed is easy enough to prepare and of course use your favorite ground beef mix. Now when it comes to beans, I could do without, but someone else likes beans so I add them 😉 For a vegetarian version, add three kinds of beans, and other vegetables of choice, or take a look at Thug Kitchen Bean and Beer Chili.
Such an easy chili not at all like some of the recipes that I get carried away with and is very adaptable for your own ingredient add-ons or changes. I would imagine that you can make this in a slow cooker as well as stove top. Make a big batch and freeze for another day. I’m starting to warm up to this easy dinner idea… using what I had on hand my changes included 2 cans of chili seasoned pinto beans, diced red pepper, and fresh cilantro. I washed potatoes, slathered with EVOO, sprinkle with salt, pepper, poke with a knife a fe times and roast at a high temperature 400º.

Curtis Stone Midwestern Chili, slightly adapted:

9 dried red California or New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds removed, be sure to check heat levels on package
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups beef or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
8 ounces diced tender steak of choice
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)*
2 white onions, finely diced
1 each diced red and green pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with chili seasoning if you can find them or fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
14 ounces + canned red kidney beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

For the Potatoes: I didn’t use this method
2 cups (about) kosher salt
8 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon canola oil

Grated white cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

The chili can be made 1 day ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Rewarm the chili over medium-low heat, adding a bit of water or beef broth to help loosen it to the desired consistency.
To make chili:

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dried chiles to the water. Weigh down the chiles with a plate and let soak until the chiles soften slightly, about 20 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water; discard the water.

In a blender, combine the softened chiles, garlic, and beef broth and blend until smooth. Season the sauce to taste with salt and set the sauce aside.

In a heavy large pot over high heat, heat the oil. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until the meat is browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using it). Add the onions and sauté until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir the chile sauce, tomatoes, and vinegar into the beef mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Season the chili to taste with salt.

Stir the beans into the chili. Cover and simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season the chili to taste with salt.
Meanwhile, to bake the potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread 2 cups of salt on a small baking sheet. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork or skewer and rub the potatoes with oil. Set the potatoes atop the salt on the baking sheet and sprinkle a small amount of salt over the potatoes as well.

Bake the potatoes until a paring knife can be inserted into the middle of the potatoes without resistance, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside for 3 minutes.
To serve:

Split the potatoes in half lengthwise and crosswise, and gently squeeze open the potatoes. Spoon the chili into the potatoes. Serve with the cheese, green onions, and yogurt or sour cream.
*NOTE: Cayenne pepper is very spicy. Use it at your discretion.Chili stuffed potatoes