Cornbread Waffles with Chili

Chili is my clean out the fridge meal.  I admit it freely. I’ve tried to follow formats and instructions but the common theme and title of the blog here is abandoned recipes. It does help that we primarily eat foods in that flavor profile so I always know I will have onions, garlic, tomatoes and the appropriate spices on hand.  Making chili means its fall, time to hunker down with hearty dishes that warm you from the inside out with spices and temperature.  Since I never really make it the same way, the most important part to me is what you eat with the chili.  Odd right?  But with something so familiar and traditional, I crave an unexpected way to eat it.

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This time around I went for cornbread waffles. Chili and cornbread is a no brainer pairing, but cooking it in the waffle maker somehow makes it seem so much easier for me.  It takes approximately half the time as baking it in the oven, doesn’t overheat the house (isn’t that the point of making chili in the crockpot as well?) and its fancy.  Your guests at the next tailgate, potluck or game night will be sure to share their delight.

This batch was plain cornbread, but I’ve also added jalapeño zest and cheddar to the batter too for an extra kick.  The batter keeps it’s cornbread crumbly-ness once it’s cooked and you can see that its fluffier than a regular waffle.  These ones have a cake-like quality to them that absorbs the vegetable liquid and spicy flavoring for an amazing one bite experience.

Depending on the cornbread instructions, you may want to let it cook a little longer than you would a traditional waffle.  I also spray down the waffle iron with olive oil from my misto to help the outsides crisp up.  It gives you a perfectly portioned piece which holds up very well to pretty much any kind of chili!

Chili Method:

*Keep in mind there’s no real recipe here, please

Any of the following that will fit in a crock pot until it’s full:

-Beans, prepared. Black, garbanzo, pinto, red or a combination of your favorite.

-Meat (try ground turkey, shredded chicken, diced beef).

-Lots of vegetables: corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions are necessary, you can also add green beans and zucchini or whatever else is your favorite.

Seasonings to taste: cumin, paprika, cilantro, garlic, pepper, chili powder and salt.

Cook in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours.  The flavors will get better with time so when ever possible make things like the beans and cook with the seasonings and other vegetables first.  Meat can be added later or once it is fully cooked.  If you have the time, make it a day before and then warm to serve so that the flavors can marry well!

You know what’s great?  When Bon Appetit’s Dawn Perry confirms some of “your” chili tips:

1. Browning doesn’t matter
Just kidding! Browning ALWAYS matters. Searing your meat first will get you a deep, umami-packed flavor that will permeate your chili. Plus, you don’t want your beef or pork to become grayish lumps in your stew, do you? No. So make sure you’ve got a nice sear—this goes for both diced and ground meat.
2. Vegetables? Throw them in raw
Wrong. Sautéing onions, garlic, and other veggies first coaxes maximum flavor out of them. So make sure your onions, for example, are soft and translucent before you add your liquid.
3. Use a pre-mixed chili powder
Take a look on the back of your chili powder bottle. Often times, it’s a blend of spices: ancho chile, cumin, garlic powder usually. We recommend using all these spices, but use them separately to build layers of flavor. Garlic? Use fresh chopped cloves. Get a bottle of ancho chile powder instead of a blend. Buy whole cumin seeds, then toast and grind them yourself. Small changes like that will make your chili so much better.
4. Season with spices just before serving
Do the opposite. Like with your veggies, heat and fat draw out the flavor in ground spices. If you add them when the stew is almost finished, all you’ll taste is raw spice—not the deep, rich, spicy flavor that you love about chili.
5. Quick is okay
Let that chili cooooook. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will meld together. In fact, chili is just the kind of thing you want to make a day ahead: it gets better with a night in the fridge.
Cornbread Method:

Follow favorite instructions either from scratch or on the box.  This is a no judgement zone.  If desired, add finely shredded cheddar, zested jalapeño to taste. In lieu of baking in a traditional oven, heat waffle iron to high and spray with oil. You will likely need to cook slightly beyond ready notification to help the waffle stay together.

Serve with chili and other desired toppings like cheddar cheese and greek yogurt.

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