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Countdown to Dinner: 'Lightning' chili a cook's dream

Thursday, March 02, 2000

Tested by Betsy Kline

Hearty food in mere minutes is every cook's dream. This super-quick chili recipe from Kelli Watson of Cranberry fills the bill, and with leftovers to boot!

Watson credits her mom, Ann Gump of Monaca, with devising the recipe and has named it in her honor: Mom's Lightning Fast Chili. "Basically, Mom is good at making dinner out of what's in the cupboard," says Watson. "No one can eat just one bowl."

Fifteen minutes flat from stove to table, and with effort no more strenuous than chopping an onion and an occasional stir. Kelli, an assistant business manager at Grove City College, and her husband of 10 months, Greg Watson, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, like to eat this chili in soup bowls with a sprinkle of grated mozzarella.

She points out that you can substitute V8 juice for the tomato juice; use a lot of juice and you have a soupy chili suitable for ladling over rice or pasta; use less juice and you've got a meaty chili that stands up well on its own. This is one of those quick foods that doesn't taste quick.

Venison is a good substitute, too, Watson points out. She puts her deerhunter husband's game to good use in this recipe. Venison also is leaner, which suits the health-conscious Watsons just fine.

Tester's note: When we were pouring the large can of tomato juice into the browned ground beef we felt it was too much, so we stopped at about 32 ounces. The chili thickened nicely with just a few extra minutes on the stove. We also boiled a pot of pasta alongside, and ladled the finished chili over the cooked pasta for a terrific chili mac. Did anybody say cheese? It's a perfect topper!

Mom's Lightning Fast Chili

1 pound hamburger
1 can tomato juice (46 ounces or less, depending on desired thickness)
1 envelope chili seasoning
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 small chopped onion (optional)

Brown hamburger in a medium-sized pot. When almost browned add chopped onions and stir until hamburger is brown.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tester's note: We served the chili over tubetti pasta for a filling, one-dish meal. If you have shredded or grated cheese, go ahead and sprinkle it on.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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