Cooking · Recipes

Cold Weather Cooking….Fajita Chili with Corn & Bacon Empanadas

Fajita ChiliI always feel compelled to make chili when the cold weather finally hits.  This is one of my favorite chili recipes.  There’s no story to accompany it – just the recipe.  This year I also made Corn and Bacon Empanadas to go with it.  It’s a little more work than just chili and Fritos ™, but well worth the effort (although I AM a fan of chili & Fritos™).


Fajita Chili

Seasoning mix – combine together in a small bowl and set aside:

3 Tsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. each paprika, onion powder, dried oregano, ground coriander, black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. each red pepper flakes, ground ginger, cayenne pepper

For the Chili:

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 lb. flat iron, skirt, or flank steak, trimmed, cubed, and seasoned with salt & pepper
4 14oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
I bag frozen chopped onion (you can chop your own fresh onion if you’re not in a hurry)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (mince your own or use from a jar)
2 12oz jars roasted red peppers, chopped (you can roast your own if you are so inclined)
1 ½ cups lower sodium beef broth
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

To Garnish:

Sour Cream
Fresh lime juice
Fresh chopped cilantro
Shredded white cheddar cheese
Chopped jalapenos

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in heavy dutch oven over medium high heat; brown half the meat; remove to a bowl; add the other tablespoon olive oil and brown the rest of the meat.  Return the reserved meat and any accumulated juices to the pot.

(Let’s stop here for a quick note on browning meat – this is the one part where you cannot hurry.  You MUST brown it in batches and you MUST keep the heat relatively high or you will boil the meat.  What’s the big deal, you ask?  Well, BOILED meat is NOT BROWNED meat and does not have the same flavor (or texture) of browned.  And you want that flavor for the chili.  That is all.)

Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers; stir to combine. Then add the seasoning and mix well.  Stir in the broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

Stir in the beans and lime juice just before serving.

Serve with your garnish of choice

The EmpanadasEmpanadas

For the Filling:

2 cans fire roasted, diced chilies
3 strips bacon, diced (or more – more is always better)
2 cups frozen corn kernels (because fresh is hard to come by in November)
1 ½ cups shredded white cheddar cheese
½ cup thinly sliced scallions

Fry the bacon until crispy in a non-stick skillet; drain on paper towels; discard all but 2 Tablespoons of fat.

Add the corn and sauté over medium high heat until it begins to brown (8 – 10 minutes).  Add the bacon, chilies cheese and scallions and stir to combine.  Transfer mixture to a bow and chill thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment

For the empanadas:

1 package purchased pie crusts (Yes – I bought them – so sue me!)

2 egg yolks beaten with 2 Tbsp. water

Paprika (the recipe called for smoked paprika, but I don’t like it.  You can use it if you like)

Unroll one pie crust onto a lightly floured surface and use a 3 1/2 –inch cutter to cut circles from the dough.  Transfer to the lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pie crust and re-roll once, if needed, so that you get 16 circles.  Put 1 Tbsp. filling in the center of each round.  Brush some of the egg wash lightly around the outside edge of each circle; fold the dough over and pinch to seal (or use a fork and crimp which actually works better).  Brush the empanadas with egg wash and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until golden.  My rule – set time for 5 minutes before earliest time and check – you know your own oven.

These are so tasty and make a nice change from cornbread or chips or whatever you typically serve with chili.

Yes, you can, of course, make your own pastry (I usually have some in the freezer but I was out); you can also do as the actual recipe indicates and use two large Anaheim chilies, which you roast over your gas flame (which I can’t do because I have electric and I tend to burn these when I try to broil them )

These recipes adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 77, October 2009

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