Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Below is my basic chili recipe.  I took Bobby Flay's and the Neely's recipes at www.foodnetwork.com and combined them.  Then I tweaked that a bit.  See the basic below in Times font and my comments and variations below that:

1 Med White or Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
1 Red Onion (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (chopped)
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Cumin
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Bottle of Guinness beer
1oz Semi-Sweet baking chocolate
2 cans kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
2 – 16oz can diced tomatoes
2 – 16oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb Bacon

Chop all of the vegetables and measure out the seasonings before you start cooking! Or at least while you cook the bacon. If you cook the bacon on about the 7 setting, you should have about enough time to chop the other ingredients and measure out the seasonings while the bacon cooks. (that is if you have a food processor style automatic chopper or you can chop real fast - I prefer my small food processor/auto chopper thing)

Chop up the bacon into 1” pieces and fry over medium high heat in a frying pan.  Remove the bacon when it first begins to crisp (don't burn it) with tongs or a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl for later.  Try not to eat all of the bacon while you’re cooking the rest of the chili.  You may want to hide it or fry up an extra package of bacon if you think this will be a problem.

Add the chopped garlic, onions, and bell peppers and the chili powder, cumin, oregano and smoked paprika to the frying pan with the bacon grease.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  With a pair of tongs or slotted spoon, move vegetables into a Dutch oven or large pasta-style pot. 

Add the ground beef to the frying pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with the beer and bring to a boil.  Stir in the chocolate and cook until beer is almost completely reduced.  Add beef/beer/chocolate mixture to the vegetables.  Heat entire mixture over medium.  Stir in the kidney beans.  Stir in the crushed and diced tomatoes.  Heat to boiling then turn down to low (at about setting “2”).    Simmer 1 hr 15min.  Mix in the bacon and continue to simmer for 10-15 mins.  Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped chives and/or sour cream.

Okay I've never made it the same way twice, so here are some of the variations, including what I did tonight.  I originally started throwing the bacon in the pot with the veggies but I found that you really lost the flavor of the bacon, so now I throw it in as close to the end as possible.  If its crispier than you'd like, leave it in for longer. Tonight I put a real nice crisp on the bacon when I first fried it up and put it in the chili after about an hour of simmering. I left it in there for about 15mins.  It turned out perfect.  Great flavor in the chili and it softened up nicely.

As far as the beer is concerned I've never used anything but Guinness, but I have tried two bottles instead of one.  Don't do it.  Way to beer-y and not in a good way.  But if you want to try to experiment with other beers, feel free.  Hey I don't have to eat it, you do.  You may want to get more than a sixer for the night, especially if anyone else is drinking.  Personally I don't usually drink Guinness (I'm more of a Fat Tire guy, myself, well actually I'm more of a wine guy, but when I'm drinking beer, I prefer Dos...er Fat Tire) so when I buy it, it's usually for this recipe and I could easily go through a six pack on my own (it's not a quick meal by any means).  Here's the recipe for going through a six pack of Guinness while cooking chili:

  • Bring home beer.  Open one, put one in freezer (top shelf of door is usually warmest and least likely to freeze beer), put 4 in fridge (back of bottom shelf is usually coolest). 
  • Drink open beer (#1).  
  • Once open beer is empty, you should probably be just about cooking the ground beef (depending on how quickly you drink, of course).  Take the beer out of the freezer (#2) and start a-drinking.
  • The next beer (#3) will be used to deglaze the pan.
  • This stuff has to cook for another hour, so unless you have a nagging spouse that thinks drinking a six pack in one night is altogether irresponsible and unhealthy, you're probably ready for #4.  As for me, I'd never call my wifey nagging to her face (just kidding! as all of my tweeps know, I have the best wifey ever!) but I personally usually choose to have a glass of water about now.  But don't worry, I don't judge, so feel free to pop the top off of #4!
  • Now tonight, I chose to have a Fat Tire with my meal, but by no means should you let me influence you (other than doing everything else this blog says to do) and when you cook with a beer, it's never a bad idea to drink what you cooked with when it's time to eat. (#5)
  • And this recipe is so damn good you have to have seconds and when you do...well go ahead and grab #6, after all, what good is one beer in the fridge.  That's like leaving just the ends of a loaf of bread and putting back in the pantry.
Now for some comments on the veggies.  I've lately really liked chunkier bell peppers, because you can taste them better.  I rarely use only six cloves of garlic.  It depends on the size of the cloves and how many I have left on an ear.  As for the onions, I'll chop the yellow/white one up finer than the red and have them mix in with the "broth" and chop the red into larger pieces because they have (in my opinion) a nicer flavor and again, the larger the pieces, the more you'll be able to taste each ingredient. 

A note on the spices - there are many different types of chili powder.  When I'm lazy or just trying to use what's in my pantry, I'll use regular chili powder.  Today I had ancho chili powder I had bought for a different recipe and used 1/2 ancho 1/2 regular.  Didn't really taste the difference.  I did use smoked paprika today, but I'm not sure I can totally taste the difference between that and the regular paprika once it's in the chili.  The ratios are just about right, but if you want to tweak it a bit, again, feel free - it's not like I'm going to eat it!

I love kidney beans.  I might add another can if it wasn't for the fact that my son doesn't like them.  Well usually he doesn't.  Today he did.  I have no effing clue about him.  He eats real raw fish sushi, loves mushrooms and kalamata olives on his pizza and orders fresh grilled salmon off of every restaurant menu but bitches about too many kidney beans in his chili.  Sometimes.  And I have 2 more behind him to deal with as they grow up... oy vey.  But I digress... point being kidney beans are good.  Try an extra can if you like them as much as I do.

I was told that today's was the best batch I've made.  I'd have to agree.  I added shredded cheddar, wifey also put sour cream on hers.  No chives today.  In the end though, the bacon was the key.  Everything else was good too, but the bacon was the most noticeable difference.  I love beer with this, but if anyone has any good wine pairing suggestions, please comment!  My thought would be an inexpensive kinda sweet Zin or a Syrah.  There are definitely a lot of flavors going on here and you'd need something big to be able to hang with the food.

Oh, one last note - this is not a spicy dish as written.  "Chili without spiciness?!?!?!" you may exclaim inquisitively (or question emphatically, take your choice). If this is offensive to you (I'm looking at you Lynch sisters-you are from Texas, right?) feel free to throw some crushed red peppers in there or maybe some fresh jalapeño peppers with the veggie/spice step.  At our house, I'm the only one that loves spicy foods, so I sprinkle crushed red peppers on my chili after we're all dished up.  Know that too much spice may change my wine pairing recommendations.  I'll have to get back to you on that specific topic, and of course, please feel free to offer your own thoughts.

Okay I promise these posts won't always be this long!  Hope it was informative and I hope you try the recipe and love it!


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