Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chili Time

I like Chili. Many people like Chili. Chili is good. And anyone can actually make it. There are a million variations of the basic recipe, and the only clearly set ingredient is chili powder. I like meat chili personally, with beans, because I am happily married and can eat this stuff without fear. In reality (and I say this as a professional) most of us can.

My chili recipe has two variations over "traditional" chili recipes. The first is I use chunks of beef stew and not hamburger. Although you have to cook it longer, real meat tastes better. The second is that I use both cocoa powder and cinammon in the recipe. I like the slightly "mole" like quality that these spices give. The reality is that almost any variation works once you get the basic recipe down. The only really "necessary" spices are chile, cumin and salt.


3 pounds of beef stew meat (I get it at Ottomanelli's, where they cut it for you)
Large Onion, cut up
3 garlic cloves, cut up
2 tablespoons chili powder (it is worthwhile to buy good quality. Zabar's housebrand is good)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (you can also use unsweetened chocolate (~1 ounce)
2 bay leaves
kosher salt (enough to cover meat before sauteeing and to add to taste during cooking)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Olive oil or canola oil
One can red beans
whole peeeled tomatoes, 28 ounce can
chicken stock (at most 2 cans or one quart box)
Rice to serve with chili


Large pan for sauteeing meat and onions (mine is 14" in diameter)
Large pot for holding chili when cooking (especially if you use a small pan for sauteeing, otherwise you will have a mess)
Good knife
Cutting board
Spoons for stirring, tasting, etc.
Slotted spoon to take meat out of sautee pan
Large bowls for chili and rice
Smaller bowls for serving chili


Chop the onions and the garlic. The meat should be in chunks of 1/2" or smaller. Salt the meat with kosher salt. Be generous with the salt. Heat the skillet, oil it, and place the meat in it. Brown it (at least get it cooked) on all sides. Remove the meat with the slotted spoon. Pour out any grease and gunk, and wipe down (carefully!) the skillet with a paper towel. Put the meat in the large pot. Add some more oil and sautee the onions until soft and translucent but not carmelized. While this is happening combine all of the spices into a small bowl and mix them up. When the onions are ready put them in the large pot with the meat.

Put the large pot on medium and add the spice bowl. Stir around well, coating meat and onions. Add the tomatoes out of the can (not the liquid), crushing them with your fingers as you add them. Keep stirring. Add about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the can, and then add stock until everything is covered. When the liquid boils, turn the heat to low.

Stir every now and then. Skim off fat that come to the surface with a spoon. It usually takes 1 1/2 hours for the meat to be reasonably tender, although this is more of a science than an art. Larger chunks, fat content, etc. increase cooking time.

Open the can of beans. Wash them off, and add them to the chili after this. Cook for another 15 minutes or so. You can eat it right away but its best when it sits for another 1/2 hour or so to settle. Serves family easily with leftovers.


Tricia said...

Wow this recipe sounds so yummy. Never would have thought to add cocoa. Looking forward to making it although not looking forward to Ben eating it!! Any chance of the infamous pork-fest pork being added to the blog :-) ?

Ira.B said...

Porkfest will be added in pieces. Worry not.

labkid32 said...

this was yummy... and don't ya just love them placemats?

lisa said...

I have officially made Ira's chile. And I left out the chocolate because I had none. Also, my children did not want the beans - so I added a bag of frozen succotash and it was delicious. Made me want to experiment with cumin in a whole new way. Thank you Ira for introducing me to a whole different spice.