I wish I did not believe in luck or was superstitious. But I do, and I am. My reasonable, rational self knows that it is not only a bit silly, but that I am also in a sense surrendering my agency to some outside force. When I was younger, I thought that if I watched my favorite athletes perform, they would lose. Thank goodness for replays because that is how I watched Tiger Woods play golf and the Duke Blue Devils play basketball. For exams, I never liked to break from my routine of having three mechanical pencils at-the-ready because that is how I had always taken tests and had done well. If I did not score well, it was not the pencils' fault, it was mine, but if I did do well, it was because I had three mechanical pencils. Even to this day, if someone talks about how wonderful the weather is or how smooth the traffic is flowing, I have been known to get absurdly upset, like stomp-my-feet-and-cross-my-arms-upset, because I am convinced that their very words will jinx us into a torrential downpour or into a stop-and-go traffic pattern.
When I really think about it, the idea that I think what I or another person could say or do could impact something so far removed from me is selfish. I must think of myself as really, super-duper important if my watching Tiger Woods play golf will impact his play or that having two pencils instead of three will cause all of the material I studied to just go poof! from my little brain.
Despite my observations and my rational sensibilities, I still cling to luck and superstition. This especially comes to those things that I have less control over, like sports games. Which brings me to the Superbowl.
I have no real vested interest in the Superbowl until Superbowl Sunday. I usually pick a team and root for them for some arbitrary reason, unless it is the Green Bay Packers, and then I am obligated by my Wisconsin-born side of the family to root for them. This year, I already know who I am rooting for given that I am from North Carolina, and we could use a professional sports win. Go Panthers, go!
Now I cannot control how the team actually plays, but I can eat this chili, chock full of lucky black-eyed peas and fortuitous green kale. As I see it, I am doing my part to win this Superbowl, now they have to do theirs. It takes all of 35 minutes to come together if you are in a rush, but it can also simmer for up to an hour to allow the flavors to meld a bit more. I highly recommend making a big pot of it the day before you plan to serve it and let the flavors come together even more overnight. I give some suggestions for serving, but get creative. Top a baked potato or baked sweet potato with chili, make chili fries, or serve it alongside brown rice or another favorite grain.
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now, I rarely post meat dishes but I do eat them on occasion. When I cook them at home, I try to source meat from local farms, without antibiotics or hormones, and if possible, free-range and/or grass-fed. I encourage you to find the best quality ground beef you can find for this, and then go get your Superbowl cheer on.
Lucky Pinto Bean and Beef Chili with Kale
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 pound lean ground beef (90%), preferably local and/or grass-fed
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, avocado, cilantro, crushed tortilla chips or cornbread
In a large pot, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat and brown beef for 5-7 minutes, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. When cooked, remove beef to bowl and add remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to pot. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chili powders and cumin, pinch of cinnamon, and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add tomato paste, cooked beef, stock or water, diced tomatoes, and drained beans, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until flavors have melded, stirring occasionally. Make sure you stir to the bottom of the pot! If you can cook a little longer, cook for up to 45 minutes. Stir in kale and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with desired toppings. Enjoy! Makes 4 servings.