Ed. Note: Chili is a Super Bowl Party staple, and this is one of our old ones that I'm particularly proud of, so I figured we'd update it. If I can suggest a little change-up that I had a very good experience with recently: substitute 1.5 pounds of diced pork stew meat (cut into small pieces) and 1 pound of ground beef for the proportions of ground beef/sausage listed below, and throw in a 12 oz. can of a rich, dark beer like a stout or porter (preferably left out a lil while to flatten). The pork stew meat really makes for a much richer gravy. I tried this for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and while I'm not likely cooking for this Sunday, if I were, this would be on my list.
As we get deeper into December and winter temperatures, we all know there's one thing the weather always calls for: brown liquor. But, since I'm told you're supposed to also eat at these holiday parties, I thought I'd post my recipe for another cold-weather treat: chili.
Everybody has their own recipe for chili, and it's always been the kind of dish you can really experiment with. I did a lot in my post-college days, because it was easy to make a huge pot that could last several meals. I've borrowed bits and pieces from a number of different recipes, and I use a two-alarm chili kit as a base because they give you a good starting point in terms of the spices. Obviously, I add a lot more. Where my recipe differentiates is the addition of the andouille, which provides some salt to the dish, along with a little extra spice and smoke flavor, as well as some fresh cilantro and apple pie spice, which combine to give the dish some real depth of flavor. The two combine to give you a sweet/savory combination that blends well with the chili powder. Another trick I've learned is leaving the seeds in your peppers, along with using the hot ro*tel. It makes adding cayenne or black pepper completely unnecessary. Here, I only leave the seeds in the Serrano peppers, but if you're really brave (or especially confident in your septic system) you can try leaving in the jalapeno seeds as well.
I take my time cooking this, but you can shorten some of the cooking times/temperatures as you need. Obviously, if you're in a time crunch, you can shorten your cooking time and just throw everything in the pot, but in general I find the pace I use helps maximize the flavor. Also, note that you may wish to adjust a lot of these seasoning proportions to your own tastes.
2 lbs ground beef
1 14-oz package andouille
3 serano peppers, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) onions
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
1 10-oz can hot ro*tel tomatoes w/habaneros
¼-1/2 cup worcestshire sauce
½-3/4 cup chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp apple pie spice
Note: these pictures come from a huge batch that I cooked up for a holiday party, so don't necessarily rely on them too much for these proportions.
1. Brown the ground meat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, if you're not using lean beef, you can drain off some of the fat.
2. Add the diced onions and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomato sauce and ro*tel, stirring to incorporate. Make sure to swish some water in the cans and make sure you get all the sauce in the pot.
4. Stir in the chili powder. I always taste during this step to make sure I get proportion right. The powder should mask a lot of the tomatoes' acidity.
5. Stir in the worcestshire and all other spices and decrease heat to simmer.
6. After 45 minutes to an hour, add the diced sausage, and increase heat to medium. Let simmer on the higher temperature for at least good 20-30 minutes, then lower the heat again for another 30 minutes.
7. Add the diced peppers, bay leaves and cilantro, simmer for at least an hour and serve.