Friday, September 25, 2009

My Favorites - Real Texan Chili

Yes, I'm still pescaterian, but there's nothing like football, the state fair and cool weather to bring out the flexitarian in me. The weather/time of year/craving for beef allow me to think...


CHILL- EE!


I've judged several chili cook-offs, competed a few times and most importantly, used to make a large batch (about 5 gallons) every other day. I know a little bit about chili and I love chili.


First things first, lets get the misconceptions out of the way.

  1. Beans? It. Doesn't. Matter. During every "pre-judging" meeting it's a topic. Most judges I've worked with won't use beans/no beans as criteria. I've made chili with black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and without beans, and I'll tell you it's the balance of seasonings, spices and herbs that make a good pot of chili (friends and beer add lots, too).
  2. Spiciness? A cook better have a good reason for the heat. Heat for heat's sake is a poor excuse and is used by mediocre cooks to cover the lack of skills/palate.
  3. Vegetarian chili? Don't bother. Chili is a hearty dish, trying to "lighten" it up won't do much...except create gas.
  4. Chicken chili? See #3. In Texas, we call it White Bean and Chicken Soup. It's good, but it ain't chili.
  5. Here's the trick...are you ready for this? Cumin to chili powder ratio. Most recipes are heavy on the chili powder with only a smidgen of cumin. Wrong. The proper ratio is 3:2, cumin to chili powder.
Okie-dokie...here's the recipe for best chili ever.

2 lbs chuck roast, diced (slightly freeze it to make it more manageable, in a pinch use coarsely ground chuck)

1 medium yellow onion, small chop

2-14 oz can of peeled tomatoes with juice

1-14 oz can of tomato juice

5 large cloves garlic, mashed to a paste (about 2 tbsps)

14 oz can of beans, drained and rinsed (of your choice of bean type and optional)

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp cumin

3 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp dried oregano

½ tsp cayenne

6 oz beer of your choice (drink the rest)

About a can of chicken stock

S&P as needed

Brown ground beef with S&P; add onions, bay leaves, spices and cook until onions are translucent and soft; add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes; deglaze with beer; add tomatoes, tomato juice, beans(optional) and chicken stock; cook uncovered to reduce to the consistency of your choice.


Garnish with shredded cheddar, fresh diced red onions and/or chopped cilantro.


Serve with tortilla chips, corn bread, over Fritos (hello, Frito pie) or simply, and my favorite, with a warm corn tortilla.

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