Monday, November 23, 2009

'Don't know beans about chili...'

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may work.
- Anonymous

One of my favorite childhood stories is one that describes just how I got myself into the hot-n-spicy -

My mother has always made large jars of kimchi. An important part of the pickling process is to let the jars sit at room temp, loosely covered to allow 'boil over' (the bubbling overflow that occurs during the pickling/fermentation process).

One day when out of my mother's sight, I crawled right over to one of the jars of red hot kimichi and can you guess what I did?!? The little bugger that I was, I took that lid right off and began stuffing the fiery cabbage by the handful straight into my mouth!
Soon enough my mother discovered her little girl sitting over a jar (the same size as her!), with hands and face covered in red pepper. I was just devouring handfuls of the hot pickled cabbage! What a sight that must have been haha!!!

As most could gather from that early childhood story...I LOVE spicy! There is no mistake I am crazy about fiery foods. I do believe my mother is to credit for this addiction and I couldn't imagine a life without hot peppers...

Most often I get my fix from our Korean mainstays or by dabbling in Mexican cuisine. For me jalapeno, red peppers or hot sauce can make everything better. Chili, being a quintessential meaty stew, is another one pot miracle during the cooler months of the year to get my fix.

Until now, chili in our house has come from a can/jar. We typically reserved this heat-n-eat option as an easy dinner for my husband while I am away on business.
Most of my friends at one time or another have mentioned they make chili. Having never made it myself, I was always wow'ed by how casual their statements of accomplishment were. The official dish of Texas...what could this Vermonter know about chili?!?

If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got no beans.

By definition a real chili is nothing more than chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions and cumin. In fact, most official chili cook offs do not allow 'fillers' such as beans, tomatoes, and so forth.

It is a fairly forgivable food, so exact measurements are not needed and the ingredients can vary depending on availability and mood.

Once again, my favorite part...the cook down!

The base for my chili includes, garlic, onions, jalapeno, red and green bell peppers and a variety of spices.

A healthy portion of beef is added. I used a mix...about half is ground Angus (90% lean) and the rest a fattier 73% lean ground beef.

Officially disqualified from entering any chili cook off...
my fillers include plum tomatoes and kidney beans.

I know everyone has their own version and cooks often incorporate some pretty arcane additions. The more common ones I've heard of include corn, chorizo, red wine and beer. Several rather unusual ones came up when I google'd chili secrets, those include peanut butter, pineapples, bananas, oranges, cocoa, chocolate, coffee, tequila, soda/cola, allspice, cinnamon, molasses, the list goes on and on.

Fruit in chili?!?! That is just a little too crazy for my first attempt...I'll just stick with beer.

We mix it all together and let it simmer down...

A true display of the classic bubbling cauldron...

Our first bowl of homemade chili!!

While I found the final product to be perfectly spiced, my husband does recommend I serve it with a bottle of Pepto Bismol haha!!

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