Saturday, 2 March 2013

It's a Little Chili Out

It must be the cold weather that makes me crave the warmth that Mexican styled food gives me.  I don't know why, it just seems to warm me up from the inside out.  It seems that as I get older the cold holds less fun and more aches and pains.  I wonder how it is that as a kid I would have no problem jumping in a pool in the middle of April but now unless it's as warm as yellow toilet water I don't even want to dip in a  Needless to say, I want something to warm me up today and nothing does that like a good bowl of chili and fresh out of the oven cornbread so that's what on the menu tonight. 

Over here at Collver Inc., we have some chili problems though...I don't like beans, Aaron does and Aaron doesn't like spicy foods but I do.  I've spent some time checking out lots of different recipes, experimented with a couple and have come up with one that I wanted to test drive today.  It's a mix of a couple recipes from my Cook's Illustrated and Best of Bridge Slow Cooker cookbooks.  Another thing I wanted to try out today was using the whole dried chilis I have, I've never cooked with them before and figured chili would be a good way to start.  

Well, here I go, an experiment that I hope turns out for the good:)

Chili Con Carrie (Attempt 1)

1 Lb Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 Mild Italian Sausages, casings removed, pinched into bite size pieces
5 Slices Bacon, cut into  1" pieces

2 Medium Onions
5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 28 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes with Juice
1 19 oz. Can Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Cup Chicken Broth
2 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornmeal
1 1/2 Tbsp Epicure's Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
2 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tsp Epicure's Ground Coriander
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Whole Dried Chilis
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp Epicure's Masa Harina
1/3 Cup Water
To start things off, I removed the stems and seeds from the dried chilis, this is where a lot of the heat is stored so that won't do, but if you like the spice, save some of the seeds for a kick of heat.  Once everything was out, I tore them up into smaller pieces and put them in a large skillet over medium-high heat to toast them, stirring frequently so they don't burn, it'll turn them bitter, and toasted them for about 4 minutes.  If they start to smoke, turn down the heat, you just want them to soften up a bit and start to be fragrant.  Once they're done, I threw them in my food processor to cool down.

This is where the major heat
from a chili comes from

While waiting for the chilis to cool down, I started cooking the meats.  First up was the bacon, the skillet I used for chilis, heat it over medium-high heat and add the bacon.  I wanted it to brown up and start to crisp so stirring it frequently I let it cook for about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon I transferred it to my slow cooker and then added the sausage and browned it for about 2-3 minutes.  Again with the slotted spoon it went into the slow cooker.  Next up was the ground beef.  I added it to the pan an broke it up into small pieces while it was cooking, about 4-5 minutes.

Browning the sausage
While the beef was cooking I added the chipotle chili, cumin, oregano, ground coriander and a 1/4 tsp salt to the processor and processed it until it was finely ground, about 2 minutes.  Then, leaving the processor running I added just over a 1/4 cup of the chicken stock to make a paste.  Once it was done, I scrapped it into a small bowl.  I tossed the onions into the processor next and pulsed it about 6 or so times to roughly chop them. 

Chili Paste
Once the beef was done cooking I added it to the bacon and sausage in the slow cooker and drained all but a tablespoon or so of the grease.  I reduced the heat on the stove to medium and added the onions and cooked them until they were softened, about 5 minutes.  Then I added the garlic and cooked it until it was fragrant, about another minute.  From there I added the chili paste, tomatoes and brown sugar and stirred it up until the chili paste was mixed through.  I added the remaining broth and brought the whole mixture to a boil, scrapping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits. 

I poured the mixture over the meats and added the beans and lime juice. Then I gave it a good stir and put the cover on.  I cooked it on high for 5 hours but you could also do it for 6-8 hours on low heat. 

About an hour and a half into cooking I had a little taste test.  There was a big bite:)  It cleared my sinuses and they didn't need clearing...Aaron definitely wouldn't be able to take it and neither would the kids, so I added another 2 1/2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar and a half a cup of water. 

About 20 minutes before serving I mixed the Masa Harina with the water and then added it to the chili to thicken it up a bit and then tossed in the chopped up Red Bell Pepper.  I had given it another taste test just before adding the peppers and Masa Harina paste and again, it was hot, so I added a 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar and a 1/2 Tbsp of White Sugar.

I LOVE Cornbread:)

It looks good...but it'll clear your sinuses,
a little too much heat :(
After serving it up with some homemade cornbread, which was awesome, it was a good chili if you like the heat, for what I wanted not so much.  I had invited Jay over for dinner and he ended up taking the leftovers home because it was more along the lines of his taste.  For myself, I'm disappointed with my little concoction, my goal was to not have a lot of heat to it and I know I didin't acheive that.  Oh well, that's how experimentation goes, next time I'm going to try dropping the Chipotle Chili to 1/2-1 Tbsp and the Cayenne Pepper to an 1/8 Tsp and only use 1 Whole Dried Chili Pepper so that I hopefully won't have to add additional sugar and water to tone it down. 

If you like your chili with a good bite, this one's for you...if not, I'll let you know how the "toned down" version is when I make it. 

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