We've had some 60 degree days this week and even though it's 39 degrees as I type, there are some trees starting to bud. So Spring is coming and Winter is on it's way out... (not soon enough! I may have been known,in the past, as Eddy the Yeti for my love of snow and winter but wheelchairs and snow do not mix!)
So even with Spring upon us and Summer's humidity and cooling bills roaring down the tracks in our direction, I am still clutching tightly to my cast-iron Dutch oven and wooden spoon (chili stick) in pursuit of that perfect bowl of Red.
The more I try the more I have come to realize that simple is best and less is more. As an old friend who is a food critic and editor for our local rag (It's Gannett owned) recently put it:
There's a certain beautiful purity in its authentic treatment.
Then... just keep it simple! I prefer cubed meat to ground but cubed meat takes more preparation and longer to cook, so as opposed to almost no prep time and 20 minutes simmering, cubed meat will require dicing the meat and two hours or more of simmering. It can take a little time to cut 3-4 lbs of chuck into 1/2 inch cubes. It's worth it!
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1-3 onions
- 3 lbs cubed chuck
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 5 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Poor a little oil in a heated skillet or Dutch oven. Saute the garlic and onion until soft.
- Add the beef and brown on all sides.
- Add the spices and tomato paste, stirring well.
- Add the water and bring to a strong simmer for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and simmer about 2 hours until the beef is tender.
That is a basic pot of chili. To go from there you can substitute a number of items for the water, such as beef broth, tomato juice, V-8, beer, etc. You can also mix your chili powders (try some chipotele chili powder for a smokey, earthy flavor.) If you must you can add diced some green and or red peppers but before you do that try some chipotele peppers or chipotele in adobo sauce.
Ok, here's my take on beans. I don't mind beans and have been eating them in chili for years but for many people beans are a deal breaker. Beans should be prepared on the side and added by choice. Besides, beans don't always hold up so well in the pot.
One last hint:
Chili gets better in the pot after it has sat in the fridge overnight. The leftovers are almost always better than the first serving. (a tip for anyone entering a chili contest, cook it a day or two in advance!)