Are you ready for some chili?September 26, 2006
Chili inspires passion in many people. From chili cooks who haul their campers to Texas to compete in cookoffs to humble consumers of the meaty stew, everyone has their favorite. I am no different. I love me some chili.
Fortunately, my husband makes two varieties — and they’re both so different that they needn’t war in my heart for supremacy. One, Cincinnati Chili, is a hometown favorite, but would be unrecognizable as chili to many a chili-lover. (It’s served over noodles, for starters.) The other is the subject of this post: Spicy, meaty, hearty, Texas chili.
This kind of chili is delicious. Beans, big chunks of vegetables, and let’s not forget morsels of meat that have stewed in that spicy tomato concoction. What’s not to love? If there’s a twinge of cold in the air — anytime of year, even it’s from overactive air conditioning — I’m ready for a steaming bowl of Texas-style chili. With cornbread.
Read on for the recipe, fellow chili lovers…
My wife and I are chili lovers. We seem to like chili of all kinds. Can you blame us? And while our favorite is Cincinnati Chili, belying our hometown roots, we have an equal affection for the more well-known variety from the Southwest.
This Texas chili recipe also continues my recent trend of hearty, home-cooked meals that use pantry staples. This dish is perhaps the most hearty, the most home-cooked, and the most simple from the pantry. There are no special ingredients. Nevertheless, it really makes the perfect late supper or wet-day meal. It also makes terrific leftovers for lunch the next day.
This dish also continues my favorite metaphor — cooking as jazz — which I mentioned in the post about Four Cheese Macaroni. Like jazz, this recipe is filled with ways to make subtle variations to create chili that suits your tastes. Indeed, I supplied one note variation that will significantly change the tune you play: the chiles.
I recommend you use either jalapeños or chipotles in adobo sauce in the chili. (The neat little secret is that they are the same chile — they’re both jalapeños — but they are treated differently once off the vine. Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeños. Most often you see them sold in the U.S. in tins — typically, soaking in adobo sauce, which is roughly a tomato-onion puree. The result is a sweet, smokey, spicy flavor. Jalapeños, are, of course, um, jalapeños.)
Whether you use jalapeños or chipotles in adobo sauce, the results are two very different dishes. A jalapeño-based chili has a freshness and heartiness, with a bit of bite. The chipotle-and-adobo based chili is very smokey, with a bite, too; it has the smokey flavor and aroma of the chipotles. Both chilis are very good, and I like both equally. (I’ve even changed this same “note” at other times by choosing to use serrano chiles and, once, a habañero, which is a very intensely spicy pepper.) If you know how to make this very basic variation on the chili melody, you can use its framework to make your own beautiful chili music.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (lean)
1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage (approx. 2 links, casings removed)
One 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
One 15 oz. can kidney beans
One 15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp . basil
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
For smokey chili:
2 chipotle chilies, chopped
2 tbsp. adobo sauce
For standard chili:
2 jalapeños, seeds removed and diced fine
1. In a large pot over high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is lightly shimmering, add the meat and sausage. Once the meat begins to take on some color, turn heat down to medium high. Cook the beef and sausage until brown.
2. Add the onions, bell peppers and chiles (jalapeños or chipotles) and cook for about 4 minutes while stirring frequently.
3. Add the tomatoes (see note) and cook for about 3 minutes.
(NOTE: Deseed your whole, canned tomatoes by pushing your thumb into the tomato’s heart and then peeling the skin back. Once open, run the tomato under some cool water to wash the seeds away. You are doing this because the seeds are bitter. If, when you’re finished removing and deseeding your tomatoes, you find the the can has extra sauce, set it aside to add back in later. You can also replace the whole tomatoes with about half the amount of canned diced.)
4. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. At this point, you should have a very loose meat mixture and the vegetables should be relatively soft.
5. Add the spice mix and cook for another 3 minutes. The results should be a very fragrant mixture.
6. Add the tomato sauce, any reserved liquid from the tomatoes, beans (with liquid from the can), and adobo sauce. Stir together completely and turn down the heat to low. Let cook for about 30 min.
7. Serve with sour cream, a bit of cilantro, and Monterey jack cheese. Enjoy!