I wasn't planning on doing chili but my wife was craving my chili and since the Super Bowl is right around the corner, which is probably the one day of the year that chili is served in more American households than any other day, I decided to go with it despite not having my usual prep time of marinading the meat overnight. I do not make the best chili in the world. I make a mean chili. Sure, I've had better and I've had worse. This is not the end all be all chili recipe. But some of the methods I use could easily be incorporated into your favorite recipe and make it that much better.
Let's start off with the ingredients:
In the above picture you will see regular tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste (that turned out to be some sort of pesto paste that I didn't realize until after I opened it), regular mild beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, a pound of salsiccia, Penzey's chili powder, Andrias Steak Sauce, a block of cheddar, and an O'Fallon Smokey Porter beer.
What are we missing? Oh, yeah, the beef. One doesn't have to use beef. Normally I make my chili with ground turkey but to get the turkey to have enough flavor to make a good chili I need to marinade the turkey in worcestershire, garlic, black pepper, and tobasco overnight or the meat is bland. Marinading over night like this and no one will have any idea that the chili was made with turkey rather than beef.
But with only a few hours to get this done I went with a 1.5 lb London Broil:
Here we have the meat ready for carving:
First trim the fat and then slice the meat into strips about a half in thick:
Then lay each strip flat and slice lengthwise and then chop the two strips into cubes. Looking for equal size cubes of about a half inch each:
Despite only having a little time to make the chili I am still going to marinade the meat which I did in Andria's Steak Sauce, a half can of coke, garlic, black pepper and two of my favorite additions to any meal:
I just threw the marinade in a ziplock with the diced beef:
Now to the cooking process. Here is where my chili is different than most. I chop enough onion to cover the bottom of the pot I will be using for the chili. Here are two onions chopped up:
They weren't quite enough to cover the bottom of the pot so I had to chop a 3rd onion. Here is the pot with the onion, some fresh cracked black pepper and olive oil in the bottom:
And then I add just a little garlic:
I turn the burner on to somewhere around medium low. And start the onion and garlic sweating. Then I throw in the beef and on top of that the chunked up Salsiccia:
Then I put the lid on and basically steam the meat:
The onion and garlic steams up through the meat and infuses it with some incredible flavor that is just plain awesome in chili. After a few minutes the meat looks to be done:
Take a flat edge wooden spatula and try to chunk up the sausage into very small bits. You don't want someone to get a big sausage meat ball in one bite. I do a rough chunk job on the sausage before draining and then really shred is after the fat has been drained.
Before you drain the fat take large can of sauce (or beans) and dump the contents into a bowl:
Why am I showing you this? What's the big deal? The big deal is this. When the meat is done steaming you need to drain out a bunch of fat. Not all of it because that stuff has great flavor but you can't keep it all or the chili will just be a greasy mess. You don't want to dump the fat down the drain. And you don't add the tomato sauce or beans until after you drain the fat. Put the tomato sauce in a bowl, then drain the fat into the can. Instant fat repository without clogging your drain or just pouring it into a trash can:
Throw the can in the fridge until it solidifies and then toss it in the trash outside.
Now that the fat is drained, try to chunk up the sausage some more:
Now that most of the fat is gone and the sausage is reduced to about as small as you can get it in a reasonable amount of time, dump the tomato sauce or beans from the bowl as well as the rest of the ingredients. I generally hit the rest of the cans with a can opener while the meat is steaming. I never run the can completely around the top of the can. I wait till the cut piece of metal lifts up a bit and stop there. Keeps that sharp piece of metal stuck to the can rather than stuck to the floor later on when you drop it:
After dumping all of the canned ingredients in, throw in a beer. I had planned on using this bottle of O'Fallon Smoky Porter.
This is a hard core beer. Excellent for chili and BBQ sauce. But I noticed that my wife had some coffee stout in the fridge and since I only had one bottle of the smoky porter left I decided to save it for my next batch of BBQ sauce and use this instead:
For many of you these particular brands of beer will not be available as they are both microbrews from St. Louis. Don't fret. You can find something similar. Just don't throw in a bud or coors light in the chili. Find something with some serious flavor.
Here is the chili with all the canned ingredients and the beer:
Now to the next thing that sets my chili apart from most. This was inspired by Goodfellas. When they are doing time the Don makes a red sauce and takes a razor blade to slice the garlic into wafer thin slices that melt into the sauce. I do the same thing with onion. This was hard to capture on my crappy camera but I hope you can see what I am talking about. Notice that the cutting board I used to slice the onion is two tone. I put a couple of the slices of onion over the line that separates the two colors. Notice how you can see through the onion to the board below because the onion is that thin:
I did an entire onion this way:
Then I minced it up into the tiniest pieces possible without emulsifying it:
I tossed the onion in with some chili powder and chipotle tobasco:
Mix this all together and now slowly bring it to a simmer. And I mean s-l-o-w-l-y bring it to a simmer. Do it too fast and it will burn on the bottom. If it does burn to the bottom you will know by what seems like a hard crunchy mass on the bottom of the pot. If you notice the mass DO NOT scrap it off the bottom of the pot. If you do that the only way to salvage the chili is to pull out every single black bit from the chili and this could take hours. I know from experience so trust me on this one. If you bring it along slowly you will greatly reduce the chance of burning the chili to the bottom. Once it is brought to a simmer drop it down to a slow simmer and put a lid on the pot with a gap on the side for the steam to escape and allow it to thicken.
If I had time to do the chili proper I would've started in the morning and let it simmer all day. I did not have that luxury so I added some tomato paste to thicken it up. Like I said, the paste I used happened to be some sort of paste with pesto in it. I didn't want to waste it since I had already opened it so I went ahead and used it. Here is the chili after an hour:
And here we have it 2 hours in:
Not much different. Just a little darker.
Now my wife is very particular about her chili. Gotta have some of these in the bowl:
And I'm a little particular about my cheese. I realize that pre shredded cheese is more convenient, but shredding my own cheese is much better than the pre shredded stuff. Take a block of cheese:
Add one cheese grater and a bowl:
And in 30 second I have fresh grated cheese:
Now that I have all the accoutrements time to make the chili. First I will prepare my wife's. A few Fritos:
Now some chili - looking nice and thick:
Mmmmm, steamy. And now some cheese:
For me it's a little more basic. Chili, cheese, maybe some hot sauce, and a big ol' sleave of saltines:
I don't even really need a spoon. I can just use the saltines!?!?!
Now if I were making this for say a Super Bowl party I would've marinaded the meat on Friday night, done the cooking for Saturday and then refrigerated the chili overnight and served it on Sunday. Chili is always better the next day. And this chili will indeed be served on the day of the Superbowl. It has been frozen and will be thawed out on Super Bowl Sunday:
Things I would do differently other than cook it the entire day and marinade the meat longer:
- I think the combination of the diced tomatoes and pesto tomato paste made it a little tangier than I normally make my chili. So if this is what you are going for then you will be golden. If not, skip the diced tomatoes and use regular paste