I like things that come in cups. Well, either that or miniature, gigantic or on a stick. It cannot be average. That is the rule. I don’t know why, I just do. If you haven’t noticed yet, I like to make food in weird ways. “Manly” food is no exception.
Chilli cheese fries are not delicate. They are heavy, fatty, filled with meat that has been cooked in a pot for hours. They are messy to eat with your hands too. Nothing special. Although I already created the bacon and beer cupcakes, I believe the world needs even more heartu cupcakes. Savory deserves as much of a chance as sweet. If you do not like cupcakes, then think of it as a french fry cup with goodness inside. Watevs.
Here is what you will need for the chili cheese fry cupcakes (or cups if they seem more cup-like to you),
For the french fry part,
- salt and pepper (or I like to use Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Seasoning Salt. So much better. Found in spice aisle.)
- olive oil or olive oil spray
For the chili part,
Note: The spices listed are STARTING points! I believe in starting with an amount of spices, then tasting a few hours in and adding more. Also, we all like chili our own way so you need to decide for yourself to leave out hot spices if you don’t like heat or sweet spices if you don’t like sweet. A good cook can look at a recipe and adjust it to their own taste.
If you have your own chili recipe, then just use that. Make sure it is not too wet or stew-like, though.
Or, my recipe:
- 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (I like to use a cut of beef and grind it myself. If you like to do this then just 1 1/2 lbs of a good cut of beef, without the bone)
- 3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste (remember, this is a starting point! if you don’t like tomato flavor then use less.)
-1 can of kidney beans (If you don’t like kidney beans then just use more ground beef and leave the beans out)
- 1 can of diced and peeled tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 green or yellow pepper, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- a dash or more of red pepper flakes (if you don’t like heat start with one dash. I like my chili spicy, so I start with a handful)
- 6-8 teaspoons of chilli powder (same not as the red pepper flakes)
- 6-8 teaspoons of smoked paprika (ditto)
- 1-2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper (ditto)
- 2-4 tablespoons of brown sugar (just as with the spicy, if you like sweet chili go heavy on the brown sugar. If you like less sweet go light.)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder (same as the note for the brown sugar)
- 1/2 can or bottle of your favorite beer
- 1 tablespoon or oregano
For the topping,
-sour cream (optional)
-green onions, sliced (optional)
- a block of cheddar and/or pepper jack cheese
I start by making my chili a day ahead. First grab your meat. Either ground beef of a cut of beef cut into cubes.
I like to buy beef and grind it myself. Great for burgers.
Better quality, and you aren’t eating sketchiness (come on, we all know they use the leftover cow parts for ground beef).
If you want to do that option, then you need a meat grinder or a meat grinder attachment for your Kitchen Aide (about $50).
Grab your chopped veggies and garlic too.
Toss the beef, garlic, and veggies into a dutch oven pot or a crock pot. (actually, add the garlic a few minutes later than everything else)
Grab your spices (not all spices are shown).
Toss into the pot.
Cover and allow to cook until beef is more brown and veggies are translucent.
Grab your canned tomato, tomato paste, and beans.
Add those along with the beer and your bay leaf.
Note: If you ground your own beef, it can end up less “chunky” and slightly more “grainy” than preground beef. I try to avoid moving the beef around as little as possible so it stays in larger, less broken down pieces. You could always do 1/2 real beef 1/2 ground beef too.
Allow the chili to cook for a long time. I usually put the heat or crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours.
It looks like this halfway through:
Still very liquidy and needs to cook down more.
Leave the cover on for the duration of the cooking.
About 1 hour in or so, I taste my chili and then add whatever spices I think it needs.
Remember, the spices are sort of a starting point.
Once chili is near it’s 8th hour or so, I take the cover off because I want my chili to have very little liquid.
Otherwise it will make the potato fall apart in the cupcake/cup.
Now for the fench fry part.
Peel and slice up fries.
Seen here they are much thinner than what I ended up using.
My slices were probably about 3/4 inch. Just make them look like thick steak fries.
Set a large pot of water to boil.
Once the water is fully boiling, drop your fries into the water.
Once it reaches boil again, let fries cook for about 4 minutes or so.
They should be slightly mushy.
Drain and pat off with paper towels.
Toss in a bowl of olive oil and lots of salt and pepper.
Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or so.
The fries should come out somewhat soft in the middle.
Now to form them.
Spray or coat a cupcake pan with olive oil.
Pick out a soft potato and mush up with your fingers.
Push the potato along the bottom and 1/3 up the side of the cup.
Then, break off the tips of the fries and press them along the sides of the cup.
FYI there was a whole lot of trial and error in this project. I want to remind you that the final cut of fry is thicker.
Again, do not be deceived.
Add more potato mush along the bottom and sides so that the fries are now secured inside of the mush.
Sorry I keep using the word mush. That is what comes to mind after pulverizing potato with my hand.
Sprinkle on some salt and pepper on top of the cups.
Now this is the tricky part.
You oven could be very different from mine, so I suggest doing a trial run before making a whole tray of them and not working out.
I found that baking them at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, then lowering the temp to 315 degrees for about 15-25 more minutes worked for me. Keep in mind that one will bake more quickly than an entire tray too so after your trial the whole tray will need to bake slightly longer.
You want it firm enough so that it does not fall apart, but not too overcooked either.
Try with my time and temp, and see if you need to adjust.
They should come out like this:
Taking them out was also a challenge. They were too soft to be picked up right away.
I used aluminum foil and carefully molded a sheet of it into each cup.
I then place a flat baking sheet on top, and quickly flipped it over.
You might have to tap the bottom of the cupcake cups to loosen the potatoes out.
If they fall apart, you did not cook them for long enough.
I cannot tell you enough to do the trial run.
Carefully flip them over.
Sprinkle more salt and pepper on.
Grate lots of cheese onto the potatoes.
Spoon in some chili.
Grate even more cheese on top.
See how much cheese is pictured here?
Not NEARLY enough. Add lots and lots of cheese. The more, the better.
Also, your potatoes will taste plain if you do not season with salt and pepper.
These cuppies are so manly, that I can get away with saying cuppies.
I used a fork. My manly male friend used his hands. Just be careful if you do.
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