With summer approaching the culinary landscape is changing. We’re shaking off the heavy comfort foods used to keep us fat and warm during the winter months and we’re looking towards cool, crisp, lean, and wholly outdoor-centric foods. There is one food that seems to defy this change though.
To me chili is synonymous with summer sports, tailgating of all types, and men. Though we as men have been dupped into accepting a fraud food. We happily feast on bowls questionable ground beef mixed with cheap beans and prepacakged chili powder. I am here to help you cast out this slop and come to appreciate REAL chili.
Warning: This will take the better part of a day to COOK, to prepare it will only take you about an hour or less
Things You Should Have
-A large pot with a capacity of at least 6 quarts, if you don’t have one Wal-Mart can easily hook you up on the cheap
-A stove or other heat source, if I have to explain this we have a problem (living in a dorm or basement apartment you can pull this off on a grill with the skillet or use a camping stove)
-Oil, go to the store and get a big bottle of just plain vegetable or canola oil, keep this at all times
Red, or Texas Red is chili how its meant to be, how it used to be. This is what cowboys ate. If after reading this you choose to continue to buy cans of beans and ground beef you risk inciting the wrath of John Wayne’s ghost, I will not be held responsible.
As you get into the shopping list and the recipe you’ll notice that this is more akin to stew then chili, though the flavor is there, the goodness is there. Its not bullshit. No beans. Minimal vegetation. Meat. Lots of meat.
-Stew Beef, every grocery store will have this. Its the little bits left over after cutting steaks off the primal cuts, its usually very cheap and already cut so no work needed, get two pounds for this recipe
-Onion, color doesn’t matter, get one large onion (or two medium)
-Dried Chipotles, check either the produce section near the other fresh peppers or the Spanish section, you’ll need two or three peppers, most packages will have more then that (chipotles in adobo will work, I prefer to use the dried though)
-Garlic, how you get it is irrelevant, I prefer to get the whole peeled cloves and skip the whole garlic smelling hands part, 8 cloves total
-Diced Tomato, I prefer the fire roasted kind for a little extra flavor, one large can
-Dark Beer, any will do, no Guinness, one bottle for the pot, five bottles for you and your boys
-Optional – Cilantro This isn’t needed, but you’ll appreciate it if you get it, one bunch of fresh cilantro
–Do Work Son!–
1) Get your pot on the stove, and get it hot. I said hot. No, stop reading, hotter. When it looks as if Zeus himself parted the clouds and struck the pot in a fit of rage, then you’re ready.
2) The pot still isnt hot enough, drink one of those five beers you have laying about and season that meat with some salt and pepper. While you’re at it peel and slice that onion too.
3) Now that the pot is hot enough to have earned its own mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy you can add the stew meat. Only add as much meat as the pot will hold, you dont want pieces stacked ontop of one another, the reason for the pot being hotter then hell is to sear flavor into the meat. You’ll be taking the meat out after its seared so working in batches is very acceptable.
3a) If working in batches give the pan 30 seconds of empty time in between batches, to re-heat
4) As you sear the chunks make sure you stir and turn the pieces to get the goodness on all sides
5) Once all the meat is seared and nice and brown on the outside remove it all and put it in a bowl off to the side and dump in the onion, stir it around quickly for the first minute so that one side doesn’t burn. While you’re stirring the onion put a lot of pressure on the bottom of the pan so that you start to loosen some of the goodness stuck to the bottom.
6) While the onions cook slice the garlic into very thin rounds (you can mince it if you prefer, I like this technique better) If you aren’t clear on what I mean, think Goodfellas.
7) When the onions start to get brown and translucent throw in the garlic and stir it around for about a minute
8) Dump in ONE beer and “scrub” the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon or spatula to get all the bits off the bottom.
9) Let the beer cook down till you have half as much as you added in then dump in the dried spices
9a) Spice Amounts (this is very subject to personal taste)
-Cumin, 4 tablespoons (cup your hand and fill it up to the second joint from the palm on your middle finger)
-Oregano, 2 tablespoons (cup your hand and fill it up to the first joint just off the palm)
-Cayenne, 2 teaspoons (cup your hand, make a pile about the size of a quarter)
-Onion Powder, 4 tablespoons
10) Stir the spices around for about 2 minutes to let them warm up and give up their flavor, then dump in the can of tomatoes
11) Once the pot comes back to a boil add in the chipotles and the meat
12) Fill the pot with enough water to cover the meat with an inch of water, let this come to a boil then turn in to low and WALK AWAY. This will take at least an hour to cook, possible up to three
13) Check on the meat every thirty minutes, you want it to be tender enough to cut with a fork. You might have to add water during the process to keep the meat submerged. Once it starts to get tender (when you can stab a fork in it easily but you can cut it with the fork just yet) stop adding water.
**Note: Taste the liquid as it begins to reduce, add salt to your liking here, under season by a little bit
13a) Some recipes advocate using a Roux, or a mixture of flour and butter, I prefer to let the liquid simply evaporate down, intensifying the flavor and saving you the trouble, dont let your pot burn, but once it gets close to done stop adding water
14) If you bought cilantro, chop it up
15) When the meat is tender and the pot is dry enough, you’re done, unless you want extra spice (see the note) If you bought cilantro, bowl up your Red and throw a healthy amount of it on top and eat like a cowboy
**Note: If you like your food spicy, fish out the chipotles and chop them up until they resemble a paste, stir this back into the Red and enjoy a bowl of flaming awesome
If you like to accessorize your chili, be my guest, but putting cheese on Red is just wrong. A big pile of sour cream, some scallions, and if you’re heat freak like me some fresh sliced jalapeños will do you well