Dishing Up Maine
The map of inland Maine is pocked with dots showing the locations of more than four dozen sporting camps with names like Bear Spring Camp, Eagle Lake Camp, Indian Rock Camp, and Leen's Lodge. After a day spent hiking, hunting or fishing in the North Woods (or anywhere!) a hearty, filling meal such as chili is definitely the order of the day. I dedicate this fabulous chili to all the hard-working cooks and appreciative eaters at the sporting camps of Maine.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes with juice
2 cups beef broth
3 cups drained kidney beans (about 2 15-1/2 ounce cans)
1 large bay leaf
, broken in half
2 tablespoons molasses
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring to break up large clumps of ground meat, until it loses its pink color, about 10 minutes.
Add the chili powder, cumin, cumin seeds, oregano, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, broth, beans, bay leaf, and molasses. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the chili begins to reduce and thicken, about 20 minutes. Using the back of a large spoon, crush about one-third of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the chili further. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings or thickness, if desired. (The chili can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Serve with small bowls of the toppings of your choice.
Suggested toppings: diced red onion, cilantro leaves, sour cream, shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, minced green chilies.