An Odd Food Pairing: Chili with Cinnamon Rolls

farm shotIt’s a gorgeous fall day here in rural Iowa; a brisk coolness fills the air. As the temperatures dip our menu at home changes a bit too. We turn to roasting, slow cooking and begin making more soups and stews. All of which creates great dishes to eat as well as warm up the house and fill the air with comforting aromas.

This season makes me recall fond school- time memories, surprisingly of my school lunches- even though we probably complained about them at the time. We were lucky because the cooks at my school actually cooked our food. Regardless, the school lunch menu was always predictable.

Here is where my odd food pairing began: if we were having chili at school, we always had a cinnamon roll to go with it. This has ruined me! I can’t seem to enjoy my chili unless it’s served with a cinnamon roll. Yes, the pairing is not traditional – saltines, corn chips or even spaghetti – but I love to dip this sugary, cinnamony treat into my steamy, spicy chili. It’s just the perfect way to eat it.

Here’s the recipe I make at home. My trick is adding Niman Ranch ground pork. It gives the chili a wonderful rich and savory quality- give it a try.

Willis Family Chili Recipechili and roll

Serves 4- 6

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Chili Powder- or to taste
Dash Salt
½ pound Niman Ranch ground beef or Niman Ranch ground pork
1 can Westbrae Natural Organic Chili Beans (combination of kidney and pinto beans)- drained
2 15 oz. cans organic tomato sauce-
1 can of cold water

Heat a large sauté pan over medium to medium high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and onions, then cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Add the ground pork and break up with a spatula until it is completely browned. Be careful not to overcook. Sprinkle on the chili powder and salt.

Add drained chili beans. Add the tomato sauce and cold water. Continue to cook on medium to medium high heat for about 20 minutes. I always taste it throughout the process.

Feel free to change ingredients to cater to your own tastes. This may seem a bit bland, but for those of you with finicky children at home this recipe will be a favorite. Everyone has their own way of making chili, figure out your way! Just have fun and get cooking. Don’t forget to serve with your favorite cinnamon roll.

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