Monday, March 02, 2020

"If you know Beans about Chili…. you know Chili has no Beans."*

* Song by Kent Fenlay

While anything with peppers in it is called Chili and I guess rightfully so because peppers are peppers but Texas Chili aka Texas Red or a Bowl of Red is a very simple dish with very few ingredients.

Every year around this time Tucson has its Rodeo and like clock work the office has a Chili Cook Off. I've yet to see a Bowl of Red at the Cook Off. No value judgement, most of the stews are tasty and everyone has fun.

I've counted up the ingredients in my traditional Chili and there are only seven, eight if you count stock which may or may not be needed. The first of course is meat, best is a tough cut like brisket or chuck and not ground but chopped, Next are the dried chilies which is where the magic happens. You just have to figure out what works because chilies vary so much in flavor and heat but a good start is about half and half Ancho chilies and New Mexico Chilies.

Remove the stems and most of the seeds from the chili pods then heat the pods in a dry skillet to release the oils. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water to soak for 30 or so minutes. Place the soaked pods and a cup or two of the soak water to a blender and add some fresh garlic, cumin seeds (be careful too much overpowers everything else and makes it taste like something from a bad ski resort kitchen),a little coriander seed and oregano all to taste.

Brown the meat in a covered pot, retaining as much liquid as possible. After the meat is brown add the chili mixture, the rest of the soak water and cook covered until tender. Uncover near the end if a thicker sauce is needed but leave it thin enough to add Masa to thicken the sauce.

Serve with Soda Crackers and maybe beans and cheese on the side.


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