Thursday, February 4, 2010

Awwwright Chiliheads - It's Super Bowl Time!

A quick timeout from comics to venture into one of my passions - cookin' up a mean bowl of red (i.e. "chili" to those not familiar with the vernacular amongst us "chiliheads"). Thing is, the only time I do it is Super Bowl Sunday - mainly because I cook so much of the stuff that we freeze it and don't get it all finished off until the spring.

Now my chili doesn't make a "statement" - i.e. it doesn't napalm your taste buds and later have you sitting on the porcelin throne grimacing in pain for hours on end, white knuckling your grip on the towel rack while contemplating selling your first born for just a nano second of blessed relief.

No, we go for taste here with just a modicum of heat. Now, if you cook your chili as per the International Chili Society Rules, you can't use beans in the chili - most of the southwestern folks have a bowl of beans to the side when they serve their bowl of red.

Now, I'm not gonna publish MY recipe - no sireee.... (as it might be that it changes a little from year to year) but I will provide a couple of tips that I've learned over the years...

First, get a coarse chili grind for the meat. Some people like to cut some round steak into very small cubes. I prefer ground chuck - again, very coarsely ground if possible.

Next, when you cook the meat - which is the first thing you do and do it in a big ol' pot - don't drain off all the fat as it adds flavor during the cooking process - you can skim it at the end if you prefer - just don't get rid of all of it.

DON'T USE COMMERCIAL CHILI POWDER!!!!! The kind you get at the big chain groceries stores has more than just ground chili - often it has oregano, cumin, salt - all kinds of stuff - and it seems a little stale to me. No, it has to be PURE ground chili.

The absolute number one place to buy pure ground chili is Pendery's World Of Chili Of Spices - not only do they have a vast selection of ground chili's and other spices but their customer service is excellent! I have been buying from them for years and they always come through in stellar fashion.

Not only do I buy ground chili but I am a whole white pepper aficionado and they sell it in bulk (as well as other whole and ground peppercorns) - so MUCH cheaper - and fresher - than getting it at a grocery store. In fact just about ALL their spices are cheaper than the grocery store because they sell in higher quantities. BUT quantities not so high that you can't use them in a timely manner - you can always freeze unused amounts for awhile.

Anyway, the two ground chilis that are my favorite are "Puebla" and "Texas Red Dog". Puebla has a rich carmel flavor and is not hot at all. Texas Red Dog is a chili blend, again not hot but really enhances the flavor of your chili. Use two tablespoons of Puebla and one tablespoon of Texas Red Dog per pound of meat.

Now, to make up for what is missing in commercial chili powder, don't forget to use liberal amounts of cumin (I dunno - 3 to 4 tablespoons), fresh chopped garlic (six to eight cloves, I guess...), oregano (four level teaspoons should do it - less if you use Mexican Oregano which Pendery's also sells), salt and pepper. Of course, cut up a couple of medium onions (I am assuming four lbs of ground beef) and a couple of green bell peppers (or Anaheim chilis if you can get them).

After you brown the beef, throw in your cut up veggies and let it simmer for awhile - say a half hour. Then throw the spices into the mix and let it get all nice and happy for another 30 minutes on medium low heat. Then you can use some canned whole or diced tomatos (do not drain), 15 oz or so of tomato paste and maybe a can or two of beef broth. Fill up with water until you are about an inch from the top. I add a few other things in there such as red mole but I can't let you know everything!

Bring the whole wretched mess to a boil, cut it back down to medium or medium-low (just enough for a mild "bubble" at the top) and let it simmer for about three to five hours - you might need to stir once in awhile and add some water for makeup due to evaporation. If you so desire, cut up a bar of chocolate - small one - Hershey's will do - near the end of the cooking process to block the tomato acidity a little.

Now if you just HAVE to add beans, the bean of choice - in my opinion - are the dark red kidney beans - in the can, not dried unless you soaked the fool out of them overnight and cooked them separately until tender. Do not add the beans until 30 minutes before serving as they will disintegrate over three to five hours of cooking and thicken up your chili - as well as affect the taste - way too much.

As far as garnishes go, I like a little ramekin of sour cream and another one of fresh pico de gallo on the side. Not much into cheese on my chili but go ahead if so inclined.

So I was a little loose on the recipe - can't believe I spilled the proverbial beans as much as I did - but if you want some really other top notch chili recipes, the International Chili Society will fix you right up.

I can hardly wait until Sunday.....
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