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Friday, November 16, 2012

quite tasty Texas chili

I combined several chili recipes, then adjusted them together to my taste and added the things I want in chili, and came up with something really good. note: sometimes I make "fancier" chili -- using stew meat (hand chopped), soaking and grinding dried pasilla, ancho and chipotle chiles -- this is not that kind of chili. this is a good, basic, easy-to-make recipe; the kind that every Texan (or honorary Texan!) should have in their repertoire. you're welcome to make this one your own, and of course, I'd love to hear how y'all do it. and speaking of "recipes" -- this is not so much a recipe as a set of guidelines. you can change many of the steps and/or ingredients: use all ground beef instead of a beef/sausage mix, or stew meat instead of either; soaked and ground dried whole chiles instead of chili powder (if you do this, use a little less chile and add a bit more ground cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper to compensate & balance the flavors), leave the small amount of tomato sauce out entirely or substitute Rotel or a similar tomato/green chile sauce, leave out or increase the green chiles (or use fresh, roasted & peeled green chiles)... the possibilities are almost endless.

Texas chili does not contain beans of any sort (unless you're making a vegetarian version, of course, which makes more sense than you might think -- with all these seasonings, the meat is not really the star). but if you wanted to make this into, say, Cincinnati chili, you could include some kidney beans, add a pinch of cinnamon, and serve over noodles, with optional toppings of grated cheddar, chopped onion, etc. in fact, except for the noodles, those toppings are fairly universal. try making it into a Frito Pie by pouring it over some Fritos (only Fritos will do!), either in a bowl or right in a single-serving bag, and top with cheddar, onions & jalapenos.

I could go on, but I think you know how to eat chili if you're looking at this recipe. so without further ado, here's how I made it today:

  • 2 tablespoons oil (cooking oil or EVOO; whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 smallish (or 1/2 large) chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 pound ground chuck (80/20, as in 80% lean, 20% fat)
  • 1 pound hot pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean, but almost any kind will do, as long as you avoid wildly clashing flavors)
  • 30-32 ounces low-sodium beef broth (I only had chicken broth on hand, and it did just fine; veggie would work, too)
  • 1 bouillon cube (beef, chicken or veggie), crushed
  • 1 8-ounce can El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco (or 1/2 can of Rotel Tomatoes w/Green Chiles, or 8 ounces plain tomato sauce, or salsa, or... you get it; whatever's on hand)
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped, peeled green chiles (or a similar amount of freshly roasted, peeled & chopped green poblano or Hatch or Anaheim chiles
  • 2-3 tablespoons ground paprika (hot or sweet, but not smoked -- that would be too overpowering here, though you could add a pinch of smoked paprika if you like)
  • 1-2+ tablespoons chili powder (the kind that includes chiles, oregano, cumin, etc. OR use 1.5 tablespoons straight powdered chile, and add more oregano, cumin and black pepper to taste)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (start w/less, add more near the end if needed)
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina, (if you don't have any masa flour on hand, do what I did -- tear a few fresh corn tortillas into quarters and throw into the chili, allow to cook ~15 minutes or so, until disintegrated), to thicken chili to your taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or whatever you have on hand -- just not super-fruity raspberry vinegar, nor straight white vinegar -- something mildly acidic, as a flavor counterpoint) or lime juice, again, to taste
  • whatever else you like to add to your chili: I tossed in a couple of small bits of Mexican chocolate, but NOT much; you could add a pinch of cinnamon here, more oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, garlic or onion powder (the only reason those last two items are in my kitchen are for chili -- they're traditional in Texas chili, and they just taste good in it -- just be sure you're using onion or garlic powder, not onion or garlic salt!), chopped canned chipotles -- whatever you like, except for salt! with all the bouillon cubes, pork sausage and regular chili powder, it's likely this chili will be quite well salted. however, if you think you want to add some, please finish simmering before adding salt -- you'll probably need less than you think.
in a large Dutch (Lodge cast iron) or French (Le Creuset) oven, or similarly large, heavy pot, heat the oil and lightly brown the chopped onion over medium-high heat. when translucent and browned to your liking, turn the heat to medium-low and add the minced garlic. continue to cook for a minute or two, then scoop it all out into a large bowl. put the pan back on the heat, and brown the ground beef, then drain off the fat, and scoop that into the bowl with your onions. then do the same with the sausage, breaking the pieces up. after pouring off all excess grease, add the onions, garlic & browned meats back to the pot, and pour in the El Pato sauce (or other tomato sauce) and broth (you can use two 15-ounce cans, or a 32-ounce carton -- or a similar amount of homemade) and bring to a boil. reduce heat to a medium boil and add the canned green chiles, 2 tablespoons of the paprika, 1 tablespoon of the chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano, 1 tablespoon of the cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and cook, covered, for ~45 minutes. then taste, and add the remaining paprika, chili powder, oregano, cumin and/or black pepper to suit your taste (if it's not hot enough, add a bit of cayenne pepper if you want -- but only after all of the various chiles have been added and have simmered for a bit). you can add another clove of minced garlic also, if you'd like. reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 20 minutes, then taste again and adjust heat/spices, and add the masa harina (or corn tortillas -- whatever you have on hand -- even regular cornmeal will work, but the flavor's best w/masa or corn tortillas), brown sugar (try adding a teaspoon at a time, until the right balance of flavor is achieved), a bit of vinegar, and simmer for 10 minutes. taste and  add salt if needed (mine didn't need any additional salt, which is surprising, because I'm a salt fiend!). serve with rice, macaroni noodles, saltines, Fritos, cornbread, sourdough -- however you like to eat your chili. top with shredded cheddar, sour cream (or crema mexicana), chopped white or green onion, sliced jalapenos, salsa -- again, however you like it. ENJOY.

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