Note: The trick to making this dish work is having enough liquid in the filling and the right amount of baking soda in the crust. Individual baking dishes work best, though a traditional casserole will more than suffice.
About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.
- Yield:serves 6
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- For the Chili:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 large jalapeno, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Kosher salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
- 2 15-ounce cans chili beans, one drained
- 6 ounces beer
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
- For the Cornmeal Crust:
- 2/3 cup coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- Sour cream (optional)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. When oil is shimmering, add onion, jalapeno and garlic to pan and sauté until slightly translucent. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add chili powder, cumin, cocoa and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, beer, and lime juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook while you prepare the crust.
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, eggs and melted butter in a medium bowl, whisking with a fork until just combined and lump-free. Fold in cheese, stirring to combine.
Spray cooking spray on inside of individual baking crocks or a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Season chili to taste with salt. Fill prepared dishes 3/4 of the way with chili. Top with cornmeal mixture and spread evenly over the top of chili using a spatula.
Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, 30-35 minutes. Serve with sour cream, if desired.