Have you ever noticed how often in cooking a great idea is the addition of 1 or 2 simple yet unexpected ingredients? In this case it was balsamic vinegar and peaches, 2 ingredients which made this “chili” vibrant and delicious. The kids were drinking their bowls and John sighed happily and repeatedly while he ate it. One of the best weeknight meals ever.
I found the inspiration for this dish in David Ricketts’ Home Cooking Around the World: A Recipe Collection, a little known cookbook whose praises I have sung before (here and here and please cut me some slack as it was before I figured out how to take indoor pictures without a flash!). His version is a beef stew, but it was a weekday and I was looking for simple simple simple. To tell the truth I was totally uninspired and mostly moaning about not wanting to make dinner (yes I have those days too). When I saw this stew had tomatoes in it, I thought to myself why not use ground meat and make it more chili-like, albeit without the actual dried chile pepper. I happened to have organic frozen peach slices in the freezer, and I am always intrigued by fruit and meat, and the addition of the vinegar was even more intriguing still.
About that fruit and meat and the South American part: according to Ricketts, many Argentinean stews contain fruit. His stew in particular is an adaptation of a complex Argentinean stew that used peaches. I don’t know if the balsamic vinegar was his addition or also Argentinean, but it’s genius either way.
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 medium-large tomatoes, chopped, with juices (or 1 15-oz can chopped, but I had the last of the season's tomatoes)
- 2 cups cooked black beans in their broth (or 1 15-oz can, organic, with its liquid--I used home cooked)
- ½ t cumin
- ½ t Mexican oregano
- ½ t dried thyme
- 1 T sugar
- 3-6 T balsamic vinegar, to taste, divided
- bay leaf
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup water, as needed
- 20 oz sliced frozen peaches (or equivalent fresh--and Ricketts says canned is ok too)
- 1½ lbs boiling potatoes, diced (I do not peel)
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions with a inch of salt and cook until translucent and softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring. Deglaze with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar. Add the ground beef and turkey with dried herbs, cumin and a pinch of salt. Cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and let them fry with the meat for about 3 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and beans. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and the chicken stock. Add the water if it seems too dry (the liquid should nearly cover the potatoes). Bring to a boil and then cover, reducing to the heat to simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the peaches and then let it simmer, covered, another 15 minutes. Remove the lid--if it is too soupy, turn the heat up and let it simmer briskly to reduce the liquid some. Also, you will want to taste it at this point for additional vinegar, sugar or salt. Cilantro is an optional garnish, but I actually do not think it needs it.
Affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items I would already be discussing and linking to.