~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chili Today...with a Chance of Cornbread...

So, I might get a ticket or thrown into the hoosegow or a nasty email from the International Chili Society or even the International Dutch Oven Society for this post...but I'm a rebel.


So, anyway...back at the ranch we find little Johnny stuck in a well...

I am making chili...my way. You say whatever you make is "your way". True, but most of what I like to cook is an attempt at doing the recipes as close to a classic way than not. I figure if I can "get" the classic way, then that opens me up to twisting it around.

My first faux pas of the day is cooking chili in my dutch oven...ON THE STOVE TOP! I have used the dutch oven cooking other meals and recipes over the campfire and chili the traditional way of using briquets on this post...so I figured I had the license to use another method (plus it was raining outside). 

So, here it is on my stove top (hmmm...no knock on the door yet)

What I need to do first is create the base...the main chili oomph.

So I have here some roma toms, half of an onion, garlic and a couple of dried ancho chiles. Ancho chile ("wide chile") is a dried poblano chile, not too spicy but good chile flavor.

Why am I using "chiles" in "chili"...why isn't it chili in chili or chile in chile? Maybe that was one of those unknown-unknowns Rumsfeld was speaking of...

...but I digress...

I got the pot going on medium high heat to dry roast and char the garlic, tomatoes and onion. This will provide a deeper, richer flavor than plain veggies. I got them nicely charred but not burnt...you'll have to trust me as I forgot to take a picture of the end result.

Take those out and set aside.

I steeped the dried chiles in some very hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate them.

By using the same pan I roasted the veggies in, I can retain some of their bits of goodness left behind and incorporate it into the chili (not the chile). I plopped in a tablespoon of bacon grease.

Why?...because this is MY CHILI!...plus it will help the beef git-ta-goin'...

As you may remember in previous posts I get my beef from my father in law who raises a few head of cattle each year. I can have the butcher specialize my portion as I want it...lucky me. 

Here I have a pound of "chili grind"...coarse ground beef...of course. 

get that going...

chop up some green and red bell pepper and onion (not the roasted one)...about 1/2 to 3/4 cup each.

Once the beef is browned off, toss in the veggies

I got out some ground cumin and mexican oregano...much different the your standard Mediterranean type. I bit stronger in taste.

Toss a teaspoon or so of the cumin and oregano...don't you love my exact measurement explanations? Putting them in a dry pot "blooms" the spices and wakes them up.

I deglazed the pan by sacrificing some white wine.

Faux pas #2...beans. You will get run out on a rail if you show up in a chili cook-off competition with beans in a your saddlebag...but I like beans in my chili. 

The Int' Chili Society defines it:

Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.

Forbidden I tell ya!

Two kinds here and low sodium versions. the can on the right has extra stuff in it so I figured it can't hurt.

For the sauce (you thought I forgot that, didn't you?) I have some tomato sauce with chiles...

...ketchup and V-8, lost of flavor there

I blended the roasted garlic-onion-tomato combination with the now pliable ancho chile (less the stems and seeds), the tomato sauce, ketchup and V-8...and a splash or two of the water the chile soaked in.

Now here's a revelation...buy spices in the Hispanic area of the grocery store. This 11 gram packet of bay leaves was 90¢...

This?...was $9.00 and only half the weight.

Now, maybe you can tell the difference between "Turkish" bay leaves and whatever kind the other is...I can't...and I can't justify buying something that is 10 times higher.

Add the blended sauce and bay leaf...and let 'er go.

And what's chili without cornbread? I'll kick it up a bit with some "tamed" pickled jalapeƱos and fresh corn kernels.

A great way to cook cornbread is in a cast iron skillet, it gets the side nice and crusty. Grease it up with some bacon grease for flavor.

I rinsed off the pickle brine from the peppers and gave them a rough chop and carved off the corn.

Mixed up the cornbread...use a box variety or the recipe off the back of corn meal and fold in the jalapeƱos and corn and pour into the prepared skillet.

Bake...blah, blah, blah

To top the chili, I diced up some onion and gave it a quick rinse which removes the acid.

You see folks...chopping an onion causes damage to cells which allows enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulfoxides and generate sulfenic acids. A specific sulfenic acid, 1-propenesulfenic acid, is rapidly acted on by a second enzyme, the lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS), giving syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor or LF. This gas diffuses through the air and soon reaches the eye, where it activates sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears in order to dilute and flush out the irritant.

A rich, deep sauce, black and brown beans, red and green bell peppers...looks good enough to eat!