Normally I am pretty consistent about following a recipe, or at least a method or technique. Not this time. It was a little bit of this, a little bit of that. And it came out AWESOME. There’s only one downside – I dont know if I can replicate it. Only one way to find out – I bought more chili beef today.
Grab Bag Chili
1.5lbs Chili Beef. Our local grocery store carries this – beef ground less fine (er, more coarse? Its a bigger grind. Words seem to fail me today).
Veggies. I had onions and garlic. You could add bell peppers, carrots – whatever you like. This is grab bag chili, after all.
Tomatoes: Canned – crushed/whole/pureed and tomato paste.
Beans. I had canned kidney and black beans.
Beer. 1 bottle Sam Adams Boston Lager. Absolutely required.
Other liquids: Stock or water, whatever is on hand.
Spices: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, Pimentón. Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Peppers: Dried Ancho and Red Bell Peppers.
Mise en place: Chop onions, garlic to preferred preferences. I like my onions in smaller pieces and garlic minced. If you are using canned beans, drain and rinse them well. Normally I hate canned products but canned beans are one of those things I always keep in my pantry. Put the dried chiles in a small bowl and cover with hot water to rehydrate.
On to actual cooking! Brown the beef over medium heat, remove. If there is a lot of fat, drain all but a few tablespoons off. Add onions and any other veggies to sweat for approximately 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and drained, rinsed beans. Add spices, approximately a tablespoon of each, and salt and pepper to taste. I like a deeper onion and garlic flavor, so I use powder – not onion/garlic salt. Pimentón (Smoked Spanish Paprika) gives a really nice smoky flavor and beautiful color to the chili. Make sure to use a chili powder that has cumin in it. I like mine, but I add additional cumin. Continue to cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes more to incorporate. At this point, remove the rehydrated chiles, chop into small pieces and add both the chiles and rehydrated water into the pot.
Then add the beef, beer, tomatoes and liquid. I add the liquid (stock/water) last to just cover everything. Oh, and if using whole canned tomatoes, crush them as you put them into the pan. Just be careful to do it slowly and into the pot or you might make your kitchen look like a murder scene. I speak from experience.
Let it all come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and eat when it has reached the consistency you like. Its good after a few hours, but better as leftovers the next day. Top with sharp cheddar cheese and serve with crusty bread, biscuits, cornbread, tortilla chips… As always taste as you go and adjust to your preferences. Its easy to go vegetarian too – just eliminate the beef and use veggie stock. I would add more than one kind of beans for protein, though. Perfect on a snowy winter day.
UPDATE: Made a second batch along similar lines. Also tasty, but lacked a certain something. Perhaps frightful weather outside is required.