Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roasted Chile Chili

We kept hearing about this heat wave that was supposed to hit Santa Cruz. Instead, over the weekend the fog rolled in (heavy) and it definitely felt like fall...cold fall. So, when it's chilly, make some chili! Now, chili is one of those dishes, like barbecue, that it highly disputed in origin and preparation. gives us a bit of background on the some of the potential origins:
Some people say that chili was invented in Mexico during the 1800s, some will tell you that its origin is in Tijuana, Baja California, or Ciudad Jurez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Mexican theory is that it was created to be served in cantinas, for outsiders, who wanted a spicy "Mexican" dish to eat, that was free or cheap. Original chili was made with leftovers from the meals and served for free to drinking customers. The chili recipes that originated in America were in wide use in pre-Columbian Mexican culture. Any stew made using significant amounts of chilies might be seen as a forerunner of all modern chili recipes.
There you have it. Now, I'm not going to go in to all of the hoopla surrounding recipe and preparation contention but I will say this: I used beans. Sorry Texas. My first inspiration was to roast some chiles. I love to roast chiles (or eggplants, or tomatoes, or whatever else you may want to roast and peel) right on the burner. You simply let them char all over, including top and bottom...the blacker the better. Then you want to let them sweat a bit, so toss them in a paper bag and fold it closed. After 5-10 minutes pull them out and the skins should slide off easily.

Once peeled, chop up your peppers and set them aside. Oh, by the way, I used one red bell, two poblanos and a jalapeño . The rest of the ingredients are pretty straight-forward: onion, garlic, ground beef, diced tomato, tomato paste, kidney and black beans, spices (salt, pepper, chili powder [which contains chile pepper, onion, garlic, cocoa powder, oregano, red pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cloves], cumin, and smoked paprika). If I had a slow cooker or a dutch oven I would have used that (I really need to get a nice cast-iron dutch oven). Alas, all I own at the moment is a big soup pot with a pretty thin bottom, which spells b-u-r-n. So really low heat and lots of stirring is what is needed to not end up with a blackened mess and a scorched-tasting chili. As I was looking for some chili tips in my beloved Cook's Illustrated New Best Recipe Cookbook, I read about a nice trick to keep things from simmering too briskly and prevent burning...a homemade flame tamer! Although store-bought flame tamers are inexpensive, if you don't happen to have one on hand, you can fashion one out of aluminum foil. Just take a long sheet of foil and shape it into a 1-inch thick ring that will fit on your burner. I happened to be out of foil (foiled again!), so I just stacked one of my iron burner grills on top of the other, like so:Time to build the chili...heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil, then add your diced onion and cook until translucent. Then add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add ground beef, breaking up with a wooden spatula, and cook until browned. Next I added my spices. (Some recipes will tell you to add spices later, but I paid them no heed). A splash of red wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans join the party, bring to a boil, then turn down to the simmery-est of a simmer for an hour or so. I am always this precise. That's just about it. No cornbread tonight, though that's always a great side. I served a big green salad and some Rosenblum Syrah, which stood up to my roasted chile chili quite well. A dollop of sour cream, some diced avocado, and you're good to go. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This sounded so good that I'm making it right now! Thanks.


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