This is a photo of the finished product. Looks kind of pretty in a food sort of way. It sort of reminds me of when people get married and do the sand in the jar thing. It also reminds me a bit of the Grand Canyon, which was one of my favorite trips with Chelsea. I’m sort of an amalgam of stereotypes, by the way. I was the “jock” (captain of football, wrestling and track teams), the drama geek (I’m telling you I didn’t score the Robin Hood part only because I was 6’4″. Typical!), the band and symphony geek (trumpet and bass, thank you very much) and the academic. So when I look at this jar, I see the sediment layers of the Grand Canyon. The millions of years it took a little river to carve it (oh, and dinosaurs) and the insignificant period of time the cowboys of the west crossed it.
And, if there’s one thing I know people of the west like (from all I learned on the Oregon Trail video game at school), it’s dried goods. I mean, if you had enough dried goods and your cousin Edna didn’t get Cholera , you were set. What might you do with all these dried goods? Make chili, of course! Also, without refrigerators, you had to learn how to make jerky. And jerky was a great way to store protein (meat…not tofu). So I thought I’d make a meal in a jar (all ingredients ready to be added to hot water…not to be confused with the “open jar add spoon” type).
Manly Meal in a Jar
- 2 cups peppered jerky
- 2 cups red kidney beans
- 1 cup white beans
- 4 Tbsp dried chopped onions
- 3 Tbsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 quart Kerr jar
- Dice jerky into ½" cubes and place in bottom of Kerr jar. Layer other ingredients on top of jerky, close with lid and store until ready to cook.
- Soak all ingredients from jar in 9 cups water overnight, then cook on medium-high approximately 1 hour. Add a can of tomato paste before cooking if you want a richer flavor.
So I took a bag of Smart & Final‘s #ChooseSmart peppered beef jerky (hahaha, oh ampersand, how you amuse me) and chopped it up into about 1 cm x 1cm cubes (going European on this one yo). Now if you can’t manage the metric system, you can also do .4″ cubes. Those will work too. I wanted to use the most plain jerky I could find because I don’t want the chili to be overwhelmed by some zany jerky flavor which wouldn’t match the chili flavor profile. Smart & Final’s First Street brand offers necessities like this at a great price, with the good quality I’m looking for.
Now, for the “body of the chili” as I like to call it, I use kidney beans. Chelsea demands I put a measurable amount on here but I must say, to be honest, I almost always cook to sight and taste. This means I look at it, measure with my eyes and brain’s desired quantity and apply. I do a followup investigation with my tongue later on. If you’ve ever made homemade chicken noodle soup and know you like extra chicken but the recipe only calls for one chopped chicken breast, you look around to make sure no one’s looking and you…dare I say it? You add ANOTHER CHICKEN BREAST!!! That’s what I’m talking about.
You can also change up the type of beans based on your flavor preferences. I just discovered white beans at Smart & Final while I happened to be browsing their HUGE bean selection. Awesome!
Now, for my chili con carne (carne already covered), I also add some white beans to mix it up a bit. You know, get a little crazy. For spices, I put chili powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt and a bit of dried chopped onions. The amounts for all these are about two to three tablespoons for the pepper, a tablespoon for the salt, about three to four tablespoons for the dried chopped onions and two tablespoons for the onion powder and chili powder. I like about two cups of kidney beans and the rest of the space with white beans.
It’s fun, or decorative if you alternate the mixing process to create the Grand Canyon…or layered affect.
There’s a picture of the finished product. Now, put the lid on and store it for a chili kind of day. Maybe when its…”chili” outside (mwa ha ha).
Buying ingredients in bulk at Smart & Final and portioning them into individual meals like this is a great way to feed the family easily and save a ton of money. Get more ideas on the Smart & Final community circular!
What’s your favorite meal in a jar recipe?