This post has been sponsored by Crios CleverGirl, but as always, all opinions are 100% my own!
And here we are. The time of year where all I want to do is drink red wine and eat big bowls of chili. Byeee, see you in 6 months (well, if that’s not depressing, I don’t know what is). Really, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I try my best to embrace all the seasons. I do not enjoy cold weather, but there is a lot I do love about winter and the changing of the seasons makes me incredibly happy. At the top of my what I love about winter list are most definitely red wine and chili. Followed closely by our gas fireplace, huge piles of blankets, and blood oranges. Snow days used to be high up on that list, too, but I’m afraid last year’s ridiculous snow day record and essential house arrest kind of ruined that for me. The MBTA came close to completely ruining everything about winter ever for me, but I’m giving it another chance this year.
But I’m likely going to need quite a bit of wine to get me through. Given the choice, I’m almost always drinking red and get really excited about a good malbec. Malbecs are a little bit tougher to find than your typical cabernet or merlot, so when I started working with Crios, I was excited to see that they make one. The label says, “Lush with hints of spice,” which is exactly my idea of a perfect wine.
If you haven’t heard of Crios, they’re a family-owned brand by Susana Balbo, Argentina’s leading and most innovative winemaker. Their name means “offspring,” which is appropriate considering Crios was created by Susana as a tribute to her son and daughter who have now joined the family business. Once this younger generation joined the business, the compny rebranded itself a bit… I recognized the Crios name, but the label is very different from what I remember. And I like it a lot more! I also love that there’s a story behind each wine (they’re all harvested from fruit-forward grapes in areas in Mendoza and Salta in Argentina).
Each wine carries an inspirational message that also represents either a milestone in Susana’s personal and professional life or the story about how the wine was made. My malbec’s message is to “Be Brave.” This message is incredibly appropriate as Susana was inspired to change the perception of Malbec from a forgotten grape to Argentina’s iconic varietal. She definitely succeeded with a wine that elevates Malbec to world-class quality full of signature notes of black cherries, oak spice, and violets.
Since I knew the Crios Malbec paired well with hamburgers, but it was too cold to be outside grilling, I decided to make a chili. I wanted to make the perfect cozy-up meal… With a definite kick. Not only did I add the malbec to the chili, but I obviously also enjoyed a glass along with it.
I also added pumpkin to the chili for some fall flavor. And chipotle peppers for an extra kick.
I love chili, but also think that half of its awesomeness comes from what you serve alongside with it. I had a really tough time deciding between corn bread and tortilla chips, but tortilla chips ultimately won. My version involved more chili powder and lime juice to cut some of that spice.
I sprinkled a little feta cheese over the chili because nobody puts feta cheese on chili and I think that’s a darn shame. Also because the feta cheese I got at Wegmans a couple weeks ago was the best feta cheese I’ve ever had.
I believe that Chris was strongly questioning my desire to put pumpkin puree in the chili. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Why take a perfectly spicy beef chili and add a vegetable (or really fruit) to it? But guess what? He later admitted the chili tasted awesome and he never would have guessed there was pumpkin in it. A nice little trick for getting some extra fiber and vitamins into an already delicious meal.
And the Malbec? Well, the Malbec is a nice little way of getting even more flavor into the chili. The red wine added a depth of flavor that none the chilis I’ve previously made have had. I’ll admit, I’ve added red wine to a lot of foods that you wouldn’t typically add it to (cupcakes, buttercream, risotto, truffles…) and it almost always makes the food ten times better.
And obviously those flavors will only be enhanced more if you choose to sip a glass of wine while you’re eating the chili. I highly recommend it.
I can officially declare that this is the best chili recipe I’ve ever made. A little bit traditional with the beef, tomatoes, and beans. But also very unique with the red wine, pumpkin, and chipotle.
Why yes, I did eat WAY too many of those tortilla chips. Every time I make them, Chris says, “why don’t you just make these all the time so we always have them in the house??” Answer: Because then I would always eat them. Enough said.
It might sound kind of silly, but while I was making the chili, I was thinking about the “Be Brave” mantra on the back of the Crios bottle. Bravery doesn’t always have to be about taking huge life chances or risking it all for someone or something… It can actually be as small as adding new ingredients to a classic dish to see what happens. Or, if you’re my husband, tasting a dish you don’t think you’re going to enjoy just in case. Those little chances can often all build up into something fabulous!
Like a chili that got me through a tough week. When you have enough leftovers for a couple dinners and lots of take-to-work lunches, life is suddenly just a little bit easier.
What’s your favorite ingredient to add to chili?
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 3 tsp tomato paste
- 2 lb. lean ground beef
- 3 chipotle chilis chopped, and 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
- 1 cup Malbec or other red wine
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2-15.5 oz. cans kidney beans
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- Feta or other cheese for topping
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp lime zest
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 4 flour tortillas fajita size
- Sea salt
Pour olive oil to a large dutch oven or stockpot and turn heat to medium-high. Add onion and garlic and stir. Add chili powder, oregano, and cayenne and let cook for about 4 minutes, until onions are translucent.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about a minute before putting ground beef into the pot. Break up beef with a wooden spoon and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce to the mixture and stir; cook for about 2 more minutes. Pour red wine into the pot.
Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin.
Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. If chili is too thick, feel free to thin out with more red wine or water.
Serve topped with feta or other cheese.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, and chili powder.
Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with olive oil mixture and stack on top of each other. Cut tortillas into 8 triangles.
Set triangles on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, until crispy.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.