Sunday, December 21, 2014

World's Greatest Chili

Hello again everyone! For years, I've had a love / hate relationship with chili. When done correctly, traditional chili is a beautiful blend of rich meaty flavors that simply cannot be matched by any other stew. However, it's been difficult for me to find a chili recipe that does "it" correctly. My stomach tends to be overly sensitive to tomato sauce - it's too acidic and sends me on a one way trip to massive heartburn town. The compromise - it seems - is to laden the chili with other additives and when it comes to chili that means beans. Now, I'm not opposed to the occasional beans in my chili, but too many turns the batch into a fibrous chewy...disaster.

So, the trick was finding a recipe that didn't go overboard on the tomato base, that ALSO didn't compromise the structural integrity of the dish (I.E. let's keep the beans to a limited number...or out all together).

As with most kitchen conundrums, Alton Brown came to the rescue. His recipe is based on the traditional old west style of chili - the stuff the cowboys made out on the range. While his original recipe uses a pressure cooker (to replicate the days in a dutch oven in half the time) you can also use a slow cooker to reach the same result (which is what we did). So, how does Alton Brown solve my chili challenge? Let's get cooking and find out!

Original Recipe From: Alton Brown (Good Eats: The Big Chili)
The Recipe: Pressure Cooker Chili

What You'll Need:

2 Pounds Beef Stew Meat
1 Pound Ground Pork
16 Ounces Salsa (Medium or spicy)
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Adobo Chile (Diced fine - from the canned variety)
1 Teaspoon Adobo Chile Sauce (From the can)
30 Tortilla Chips (Crushed)
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Bottle Beer (Preferably an Ale)

First and foremost - yes, this is not your traditional ingredient list for chili - and that's not a bad thing. Secondly, YES, this done turn into amazing chili. Stick with me, it's worth it.

Begin by browning all of the meat in a large dutch oven (work in batches to avoid overcrowding) use peanut oil in the dutch oven to aid in the browning process. Transfer the browned meat into a large slow cooker. If you have any browned on or stuck bits in the bottom of your dutch oven, use a bit of the beer to deglaze the pan (pour a bit of beer into the dutch oven over medium heat and give it a gentle stir - that should work everything right up).

Add this bit of beer (and the rest of the bottle) over the meat in the slow cooker along with the chili powder, salsa adobo chile (and sauce) and finally about half of the crushed tortilla chips. Give the mixture a good stir and then cover the slow cooker and set it on low for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, evaluate your chili. Odds are, it'll need a bit more "thickening" - that's where the rest of the tortilla chips come in. Stir them in and then serve immediately.

The Results:

Doesn't matter how you position it - there's no way to make chili photogenic 

This is the most wonderful, flavorful and meaty chili dishes I've ever had. The tomato sauce problem is eased by using a salsa base - it doesn't really change the flavor, but the versatility of salsa means it can take long slow heat without falling apart and since good salsa is typically made with fresh tomatoes - not the canned "metal like" tomatoes that so many tomato sauces or tomato juices are made with the flavor is cleaner and much better overall. The tortilla chips serve a wonderful purpose as well - they act as a thickening agent without overwhelming the dish with other flavors or making it overly chewy (looking at you - beans) and since most of them cook away and break during the 8 hour slow cook - you won't even know they're there.

That's all we have for you this week. We're "closed" for Christmas - but we'll be back next Sunday with a brand new weekend dish. Until then, Happy Holidays and as always,


No comments:

Post a Comment