Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl of Chili (Special Guest Blog)

My passion for chili is, frankly, ridiculous. Love is not a strong enough word. Passion isn’t even strong enough. Addiction may be closer. Nowhere is that addiction on greater display than the weekend of the big game. Football and Chili will forever be linked in my mind. The beginning of football season ALWAYS coincides with my first batch of chili after a spring/summer hiatus. The end of football season marks for me the end of “chili season.” The fact that I have a personally defined “chili season” should be a (disturbing) window into my soul.

Every year, on the last Sunday of football season, I sit down at the start of the game with a bowl of chili. Somehow, the bowl is magically replenished at halftime. My fourth quarter dessert? Chili. The whole time, really the whole day from preparation to consumption, excited sighs, hand-rubbing and moans of gustatory pleasure all signal my excitement for my ritual chili adventure.  It’s probably dawning on you right now that I am a dork. You are correct.

My wife will roll her eyes at me. A lot. It seems like you can bet on just about everything related to the big game. If you could bet on how many times my wife will roll her eyes at me, I’m pretty sure the over/under would be 13 times. However, my wife will eat some chili and watch the game with me. While she would never admit it, she digs this day as well. Also, my wife is awesome.

The recipe below is the result of years of tinkering with my “go-to” chili recipe. You will see much evidence of my Chilinerdness. For instance, I make my chili in a cast iron Dutch oven. I have no idea if it makes the chili taste better, but I do it because it looks cooler. (Yep, I am a dork). Also, instead of traditional chili powder, I use Aleppo chili powder, which has a more distinct flavor—you can use any chili powder you like. I also use chipotle powder in lieu of cayenne, and again, you can use any type of “hot” pepper spice or omit it altogether. The one ingredient that always gives people pause is the reduced beef stock. I make my own beef stock, and then reduce it down by half and keep it in the refrigerator for whenever I might need it. If that is too much work for you, you can just use beef stock in lieu of water at the end of the recipe. Just be careful if you use store-bought stock as it can be pretty salty. Oh, and I prefer to soak and cook dried kidney beans over using the canned variety—they simply have a better flavor.

Enjoy and beware. Your own personal chili addiction is right around the corner!

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 organic yellow onions, diced
2 organic yellow or red peppers, chopped
2 organic shallots, diced
2 organic jalapenos, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
2 pounds Beyond Organic GreenFed Beef
4 Tablespoons Aleppo chili powder
2 Tablespoons cumin
1 Tablespoon chipotle powder (optional)
3 Tablespoons reduced beef stock*
2 organic heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups organic kidney beans**
Salt to taste

In a large pot (preferably a cast iron Dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, jalapenos, shallots and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning the shallots or onions. Add the ground beef and cook through, stirring frequently. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and cayenne (if using) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the reduced beef stock and stir through. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or any of the other spices to your preference. Add the tomatoes simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add the kidney beans and just enough water to cover the chili. Let simmer on low for 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Submitted with the appropriate amount of craziness by a chili lover who wishes to remain anonymous. You know, because despite our best efforts, there are still those who look down upon chili addicts.