Chili with Surprises

by Nov 3, 2022Recipes, South Brunswick

Southern chili beans gets a tasty boost from crunchy fried jalapeno cheese bites.

Chili beans is a quick way to get your chili fix, and it is very simple to make. It is ready in just a few hours and makes for an easy weeknight meal. This version uses ground beef, kidney beans, pinto beans and fresh garden tomatoes.

Every year my father plants a big garden and supplies me with fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the summer. It never fails: I am overrun with an abundance of tomatoes, and I use them up by preparing and freezing salsa, tomato soup, spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes to be used later in the year. I used the stewed tomatoes during the cooler months to make one of my most favorite recipes — chili.

This year my father also planted jalapenos, so I decided to create jalapeno cheese bites to go with my chili. I don’t typically make my chili spicy, so I thought the heat from the jalapenos in gooey cheese bites would go perfectly with a heaping bowl of chili beans. There is nothing better than using fresh ingredients from a garden grown with love — you can taste the love in the food.

One crisp autumn evening after work, I threw all of the chili ingredients, including one of the containers of stewed tomatoes I had made earlier in the year, in a large pot and set it to simmer while I got my son ready for bed. He’s only 2, so he goes to bed early. When I returned to the kitchen, I pondered on what to pair with the chili. I didn’t want the usual saltine crackers or grilled cheese, so after seeing the jalapenos that my dad brought by I decided to create a version of a jalapeno popper, just disassembled and rolled into a ball. It was a match made in heaven.

This steaming, chunky chili is sweet and savory, while the cheese bites are spicy and gooey with a bit a crunch. My spouse was pleasantly surprised with the combination and requests it often. If you are looking for a twist on the normal soup and sandwich and also have fresh vegetables from this year’s harvest, try this recipe for Southern Chili Beans with Jalapeno Cheese Bites.

Photography by James Stefiuk

Print Recipe
Southern Chili Beans with Jalapeno Cheese Bites
Southern chili beans gets a tasty boost from crunchy fried jalapeno cheese bites.
Southern Chili Jalapeno Cheese Bites
Course Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine Southern, Winter
Keyword beans, Jalapeno, soup
Servings
servings
Ingredients
For the Chili
For the Jalapeno Cheese Bites
Course Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine Southern, Winter
Keyword beans, Jalapeno, soup
Servings
servings
Ingredients
For the Chili
For the Jalapeno Cheese Bites
Southern Chili Jalapeno Cheese Bites
Instructions
For the Chili
  1. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, onion, pepper and garlic over medium-high heat. Stir until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain mixture.
  2. Pour the meat mixture into a large deep pot along with the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Serve in a bowl topped with a dollop of sour cream and chopped parsley.
For the Jalapeno Cheese Bites
  1. In a large bowl combine the shredded cheese, cream cheese, jalapenos, bacon and garlic.
  2. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and form it into a ball. (You should have about 15 balls.)
  3. Place the balls on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Pour the breadcrumbs out on a plate and beat the eggs in a bowl.
  5. Remove the bites from the freezer and roll the balls in the beaten eggs and then roll in the bread crumbs to coat them evenly.
  6. Pour the vegetable oil into a cast iron skillet that is deep enough to cover the balls once submerged.
  7. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Serve alongside the bowls of chili.

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