Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fall + Football = Chili

The combination of damp and chill air with overexcited announcers proclaiming every run, interception, or pass completion the equal of the second coming means one thing to me. It is time to make a serious batch of chili.

In one way, I am almost fearful to write this post. Everyone has an opinion on chili. You can broach the topic in a crowd and suddenly hear the merits of deer meat versus ground chuck, beans versus no beans, heat versus spice, beer or no beer ... and on and on. So, I will start by confessing that I do not think this recipe will suit many. It is work, it violates several cherished beliefs held by most people, and the finished product will never sell in a restaurant - it just doesn't look right. The only thing positive to say about this recipe is that it tastes the way all chili should taste - but rarely does.


4 pounds boneless chuck roast, sinew and fat chunks removed, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 onions, diced
2 jalapenos, pith and seeds removed, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
one 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
16 ounces pinto beans, soaked overnight
16 ounces beef stock
16 ounces lager beer
one strip thick sliced bacon, diced
2 rounded Tablespoons cumin powder
1 rounded Tablespoon chili powder
1 rounded Tablespoon ground Ancho chili powder
1 rounded teaspoon oregano
1 rounded teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons corn meal
salt and pepper to taste
cooking oil as needed


Fry the bacon to brown and crisp in 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. Remove the bacon to the dutch oven.
Place the soaked beans on top of the bacon in the dutch oven.

Add the tomatoes with juice to the dutch oven. Add the cocoa powder and the oregano. Salt and pepper the bean mix.
Working in small batches, using as little cooking oil as possible, brown the cubed beef. Make sure the first side is dark brown. As each batch finishes, put the meat in the pot. Add a tiny amount of oil and brown the next small batch of meat. Repeat until all the meat has been browned and placed in the pot.
Add a bit more oil to the skillet and saute the onions and jalapeno until translucent. Add the spices and garlic to the onion and continue to cook until the spice has become very fragrant. Scrape the onion mix into the pot and place the skillet back on the heat. When it reheats, use the beer to deglaze the skillet and pour the beer and brown bits residue into the pot.
Add the stock until it barely covers the mixture.

Cover the dutch oven and place in a 325 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. Half way through the cook time, taste and adjust the salt and spices.
The chili is done when the meat chunks are tender and easily fall apart.
Alternatively, a large slow cooker set for low for 8 hours does an excellent job.
If you desire a darker chili, use kitchen bouquet to make it so. If the corn meal has not thickened the chili sufficiently, mix a rounded teaspoon of corn starch with 3 Tablespoons of water and add the slurry to the chili. Continue to cook until the chili thickens.

I have always preferred my chili over spaghetti or macaroni and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

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