Comfort (food) in the Storm

(as told by Peter Houghton)

In February of 2013 we had an uninvited, unwelcome and, quite frankly, scary visitor make its way into our part of the world. Winter storm Nemo was a monster, delivering heavy snowfall and sporting hurricane-force winds. In Duxbury, more than 59% of residents lost power and my home was powerless for five days. With no backup generator and two refrigerators full of food, we did our best to save what we could by packing coolers and setting them outside. My wife and I spent much of our time shoveling snow and transferring firewood to the back deck. Our tiny fireplace was no match for the cold, however. We could only get the living room into the low 60s, but it added warmth and a bit of hope.

Luckily, I had made a large batch of chili in preparation. We’re fortunate to have natural gas, so we knew we could still cook or warm items on the stovetop. The chili helped get us through those long and difficult nights when my wife and I huddled under the blankets on a blow-up bed. My chili is a hearty mix of beans and beef, which goes great with shredded cheddar cheese, diced scallions, and a dollop of sour cream.

Top Beef and Bean Chili with all of your favorite garnishes.

Beef and Bean Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef, local and grass-fed preferred
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout or porter
  • 3 tablespoons ground red chile
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
  • 1 pound dry black beans, simmered until tender in plenty of water, OR 2 32-ounce cans
  • 1 cup red kidney beans, soaked, simmered until tender, OR a 15.5-ounce can
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • optional garnishes: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and peppers and cook a few minutes until wilted. Add garlic and cook a few seconds; then the chile, cumin, and tomatoes breaking them into halves or smaller as you go. Stir in beef stock and beer. Simmer for up to 2 hours, lid ajar, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasonings, adding salt, black pepper, cayenne, and more cumin, to taste.

Serve with scallions, cilantro, and optional garnishes.

Serves 8.

Even more comforting recipes submitted by our readers:

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup


French Onion Soup