So I Made Chili
The other day I had Thanksgiving dinner in Santa Cruz with Stacey’s extended family, who I really like a lot. While we were there, Stacey suggested that I should make chili soonish – it being that time of year and all.
So I did the math and figured that Saturday would be the best day for it, and since it’s my “birthday weekend” I figured what the hell, people could come over. So I made a pot of chili.
I don’t want to toot my own horn too much (actually, I do), but I make a seriously bad-ass chili. I have modified and played with the recipe for about fifteen years now, and each batch is unique.
Now I’m going to tell you how I (currently) make it. I’m not good with writing recipes, so bear with me. I’ll write for those who don’t know from cooking.
The first lesson of Chili Club is that real chili does not contain beans. Beans are a filler. Use hamburger for filler.
I call this my “Vegetarian Chili” because it’s made of vegetarians.
Here’s what you need:
- A stock pot. If you don’t have one, modify the ingredients to size.
- A cast iron pan. Mine is over 150 years old, but if you don’t have that, you don’t have that.
- A chef’s knife
- A metal spatula
- A cutting board
- A whisk
- 3 cans tomato paste
- 3 (large) cans crushed tomatoes
- 3 pounds of stew meat.
- 3 pounds of hamburger.
- 2 onions.
- 2 to 3 green bell peppers
- 2 to 3 yellow bell peppers
- 2 to 3 red bell peppers
- A batch of green onion
- Powdered habanero. WARNING: handle with extreme care
- Cayanne pepper
- Ancho chilis
- Various other chili powders, seriously, just use to taste
- Sriracha (rooster sauce)
- Brown sugar
- A jar of powdered sipping chocolate (I use Theo’s spicy chocolate)
- Soy sauce
Okay. Open the tomato paste cans and spoon them out into the pot. For each can of tomato paste, add three cans of water. Whisk the shit out of this until it’s a smooth slurry. Dump in the cans of crushed tomatoes.
Put this bad boy on the stove and turn the heat on. Just go right to simmer; you don’t need to start it boiling immediately.
Now, open your packs of stew meat. Usually this stuff isn’t very high quality, so you’re better off going directly to a butcher. Either way, you’ll probably have to slice up the meat into more bite-sized chunks.
Once you’ve done that, you need to brown the meat. So heat up the frying pan to about medium heat and dump a handful of meat into it. Keep turning it over until it’s “browned” on all sides (there’s no red left). Then dump the batch into the pot and stir.
Do this until there’s no more stew meat.
Now, you’re going to do the same to your hamburger. Brown it in the skillet. Keep chopping at it with your spatula so that it gets grainy and exactly the opposite of a hamburger patty. Dump that in the pot, too, and repeat until no more hamburger.
Now you’re going to add in a bunch of flavors all in a group:
- Chili powders, especially cayenne. Do this sparingly; you keep adding them over time.
- A half-cup of soy sauce.
- A handful of chili peppers. They’ll simmer out.
- A couple solid squirts of rooster sauce.
The pot should be “popping” now. This is cool. Just stir it.
Now go back to your cutting board and chop up those bell peppers and onions (make sure to peel the onions first; you might want to just chop off the ends of everything, too).
Chop the peppers up until the parts are about the size of your fingernails. Do this by slicing each pepper in half, and then taking each half and cutting it several times horizontally. Then chop the horizontal slices, etc.
The onions – you can sort of cleaver them. Onions naturally fall apart; I like to have the individual “leafs” be about the size of my last thumb joint.
Dump all this into the pot. Stir it.
Okay. Now, go play a video game for an hour. Stir the pot every fifteen minutes.
After an hour, come back. Now you’re going to enter the SERIOUSLY I AM NOT KIDDING THIS IS DANGEROUS part of the operation: powdered habanero. You may have difficulty obtaining this ingredient. I keep mine in a jar, hidden where no one can accidentally open it.
I’m not kidding. This stuff will seriously mess you up if you breathe it, or it gets on things, or pretty much anything. If you have latex gloves you may want to use them. Put your shirt over your mouth while you goof with this stuff.
One – and I mean one teaspoon of the stuff. Gently drop it in, stir it up.
Let the pot simmer for another hour, stirring every fifteen minutes or so.
Now for the sweet: about a quarter cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of the chocolate. Stir it in. Let simmer for ten minutes.
(From now on you’ll absolutely have to keep stirring it every 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t, the sugar will burn on the bottom of the pot. This is bad; you don’t want it to happen.)
Taste the chili. Get a chunk of stew meat, some tomatoes, etc. Eat a couple spoonfuls. It should not be noticeably spicy until about the third bite, and even then not too serious (the sugar and chocolate changes the flavors). If it’s too tame, add more cayenne. Too hot? A bit more chocolate or sugar.
Do this over and over again for the next three hours. This entire dish takes about four to five hours to be “good”. The longer it simmers, the better it is.
When it comes time to serve, take those green onions (you didn’t add them already, did you?) and chop them up. Fill a bowl with the chili and sprinkle the chopped green onions on top.