Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chili (Stew Style)

Chili. Arguably a very simple dish, but definitely one that there is a lot of arguing about. Are beans allowed? How spicy is spicy enough? What kind of meat goes in there? Everyone has opinions (especially those Texans!). I've had a go-to recipe for years the involves ground chuck and pork as a base. But, I decided to move outside of my comfort zone on my last attempt. I decided to start with a chuck roast that was cubed instead, and I let the meat slow cook until it was tender like stewed meat. I have to say that I was pleased with the result. And while I won't be abandoning my tried and true original recipe (it's part of the Super Bowl tradition after all!), I think I'll be remaking this again in the future.

- 2-2.5 lbs. chuck or round roast, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4-6 jalapenos, diced
- 6 jalapenos, sliced in half vertically
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 chipotles peppers (in adobo), chopped fine
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp coriander
- 3 tbsp chili powder (hot)
- 3 tbsp smoky chili powder (from peppers such as New Mexico, Ancho, etc.)
- 4 tbsp corn meal + more for dredging
- 1 can kidney beans (sorry Texas!)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes

A quick note on the chili powders: for the hot chili powder I typically use brands imported from India such as Swad. These tend to be hotter than cayenne, but you can substitute by preference. For this recipe, I didn't actually have any chili powder, so I roasted some dried chilies and ground them myself:

Dried ancho or New Mexico peppers can also be turned into powder for the smoky chili powder similarly - roast on a dry pan for 2-3 minutes until fragrant then grind in a coffee/spice mill. If you don't want to do this, smoked paprika can be used as a substitute.

Get a nicely marbled roast (the one below is chuck) - the fat is the key to meat having good texture at the end of everything:

Cube the meat and then dredge it in corn meal:

Now, heat some olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot or dutch oven, and brown the meat on all sides. Do it in a single layer and in batches if necessary - overcrowding will prevent the meat from browning efficiently. When all of the meat is browned, leave it off to the side.

Now, in the same pot add a little extra oil, and then add the garlic, onions, chipotles, and diced jalapenos. Cook these until the onions are translucent and the jalapenos are softened. Next, add the spices and cook until fragrant. Finally, add the corn meal. The whole mixture in the pot will start to behave like a paste now. Put in the diced tomatoes, and use the acid to de-glaze any browned bits at the bottom, helping by scraping. Add water to achieve desired consistency (I used one extra tomato can worth of water), and then add the beef and beans back in.

Season with salt at this point (you may still need to add more salt later, but adding salt along the way helps flavors to develop properly). When the chili comes to a boil, add the halved jalapenos, reduce heat, and allow to simmer covered for 1-2 hours.

After the simmering period, uncover and give the chili a taste. Add salt to taste (salt is a major part of seasoning chili - without it, there will be no balance to the spice and the dish will just taste hot but not very good).

Serve with your choice of accoutrements. Some of my friends like sour cream, but I prefer a quick handful of sharp cheddar cheese.


Post a Comment