Flordia Havana Moon Chili

Flordia Havana Moon Chili

Chili NationIt's a long trip from anywhere in the ordinary U.S.A. to the southernmost tip of Florida: Key West. Here in the Conch Republic, you are closer to Havana than to Miami, and the taste of life has a spice all its own.

One of the most alluring things that keeps our car heading south by southwest toward Margaritaville is the promise of the great Cuban-accented food to be savored in Miami and along the overseas highway that threads the Keys.Let others visit Florida to spend time with Mickey Mouse; we'll go for the fried plantains, the guanabana milk shakes, the black beans and rice, and coffee strong enough to make the rooster crow. We also go for the picadillo at El Siboney, our favorite Cuban-style restaurant in Key West.

Picadillo is served all over south Florida. It is a humble ground meat dish that sparkles with the tang of green olives, vinegar, and capers. Our Havana Moon recipe marries the basic elements of picadillo to the spirit and spices of chili making. The result is an easy-to make one-dish meal with chili's satisfaction and a high-spirited Cuban twist.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chuck
One 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked white rice

1) Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the pork and beef, and cook until browned. Drain off the excess fat.

2) Add the beef broth and tomatoes, squashing each tomato by hand before adding it. Stir in the vinegar, raisins, spices, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and cook 30 minutes, partially covered. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes more. Add the olives and almonds and cook an additional 5 minutes.

3) To serve, place a mound of beans and a mound of rice in each bowl. Ladle the chili on top.

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Excerpted from CHILI NATION by Jane Stern Copyright© 1998 by Jane and Michael Stern. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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