Friday, April 30, 2010

A Tale Of Two Chilies

It's the official state dish of Texas. It does not contain beans. There are no tomatoes in it. It is best friends with ice cold beer, preferably Lone Star. Texas chili. Red. The best.

Growing up in Texas, chili was a staple. My father would make really spicy venison chili. One time, he entered a chili cook-off at the local bar. His chili was dubbed "John Wayne's Nuclear Chili" and it was hot. After they announced what the prizes would be, he tried to change the name to "Third Place Chili" due to the prize for third place. It was some gift certificate to somewhere, maybe the hardware or auto parts store. He won second place which awarded him the prize of a gift set of boating equipment—life preservers, some ropes and a few of those rubber bumpers you throw over side when you tie-up in a boat slip. We didn't even own a boat.

Unfortunately, I must have not paid much attention when Pops was making that chili. My first go at chili many years ago was a complete failure. Epic, epic fail. For some reason, I thought that chili was water based. I had browned the meat, and cooked the onions and garlic and peppers (which were jalapeños, serranos and habeneros—no dried chilies or anything like that) and added the chili powder. Then I filled up the pot with water. The end result was like a thin, hot-as-shit broth that, after some minor excavation, would yield a piece of meat or maybe an onion. I tried to thicken it with flour to no avail, but we still ate it because there were four of us in a two bedroom apartment, we were all in college, and were pretty damn broke.

Years later, a co-worker of mine from the Land of Enchantment opened my eyes to two ways to make chili, both of which have merit and yield a similar result, yet one is far superior in flavor. One way is to take red chile powder—not chili powder—and toast it. Then you make a little roux, combine with the toasted chile powder and then add beer and stock and your own secret goodies until the consistency is to your liking. The other involves a variety of dried chiles, reconstituted in water or stock (save that shizz) that you then puree in a blender. This is the chile base for your chili. I prefer this method.

A few weeks ago, Co-Chef and I were going to prepare a lunch for the workers of the Black Star Co-op. Frito pie was our choice dish. We discussed chili methods and he made the batch that was to be served that day. It was delicious. It contained beef and pork, and had some really beautiful subtle notes of clove and cinnamon. He used ancho and chipotle chiles and some serranos and jalapeños for some heat. There was an excellent underlying smokey quality to this chili. I can't recall the beer he used. Near the time of service, he added a little masa to thicken it up. These made great frito pies enjoyed with a Stone 2006 Vertical Epic.

Fuckin' A right!

When he was making the chili, he reserved a bit of the base that was used to make a vegetarian version with chayote squash, portobello mushrooms and golden beets. This vegetarian chili had some balls. It was really substantial. The sweetness of the chayote and the golden beets played really well with the earthiness of the mushroom and the smokiness of the chiles. Total win.

Last week, I wanted to make some chili. To be honest, I wanted to make some clear-the-freezer-out-chili. There was ground lamb, feral hog sausage, and some pork stew meat that needed to be used up. For the base of the chili I used guajillo, ancho and de arbol dried chiles and fresh serranos and jalapeños. Samual Adams Boston Lager for the beer and beef stock were used as well. For some reason I feel lager needs to be used in chili, not a big stout or something dark or roasty—I want that roasty, smokey flavor from the chiles to stand out.

The resulting color was a glorious red. I like to use some coffee grounds in my chili, as well as some cinnamon and a bit of clove in addition to coriander and cumin. The spices really give the chili a warm, welcoming aroma as it approaches your feed-hole. Some acid at the end sets the whole thing off. Oh, and buttermilk-serrano cornbread. Ice-cold Lone Star was invited to join in the fun.

featuring Way Back When butter.

The subjective nature of chili recipes leads me to believe that there really isn't a wrong way to make it. That is, so long as it doesn't contain tomatoes. Beans, when I want them, are on the side and can be added as an extra. They are not necessary for the flavor profile or the thickness or anything, really. Just farts. My girlfriend frowns on farts, therefore, I frown on beans. Plus, there are no beans in Texas chili and I'm from Texas. You can still be hanged in Texas for things like that, so there's some powerful incentive to do right. Chili recipes are more than likely cultivated over a lifetime much like a writing style, kendo, or calf-ropin'. For now, I'll keep tweaking this recipe and see where the road takes me. As long as there's cornbread and ice-cold beer involved, I hope the road goes on forever and the party never ends.

32 comments:

TexasDeb said...

People who aren't from around here maybe don't get that we eat even more chili once the mercury rises. Best way to beat the outside heat is with a chili heat dance party goin' on in your mouth. Throw in cornbread and cold beer and you got yourself something real going on.

And oh....Frito pie. Yessir. Yessir, thank you very much!

Greyghost said...

Nice. Makes my mouth water!

PassivePastry said...

once again.... beans and tomatos for me... but i certainly wont turn yours down. :)

oh, and i have my chili with milk if it's spicy.
and ketchup.

(Sorry to foul up your comments section)

Flapjacks said...

thanks y'all.

火吟 said...

友誼能增進快樂,減少痛苦......................................................

HaroldM22 said...

如果成為一支火柴,也要點亮一個短暫的宇宙;如果是一隻烏鴉,也要叫疼閉塞的耳膜。..................................................

紫倫妍勳 said...

好的部落格,希望您能繼續堅持!!!..................................................

曾文詠 said...

you‘ve got a great personality!............................................................

Joseph said...

Ah yes, the epic, epic fail chili. I remember it well. How far your cooking has come since then. You could turn this story into a motivational book for broken chefs around the world.

王周宏儒 said...

A stitch in time saves nine...................................................

湘嬌湘嬌 said...

your artical is so funny!! it make me so happy!! .................................................................

怡潔怡潔 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。......................................................................

郁雨郁雨 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」....................................................................

政儒 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

Christine said...

Thanks for the Chili tips. Love them. I tried your tips. It worked so good my husband loves it! If you wont mind I'd love to guide my Foodista friends to your post. Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post so they can see your post in their profiles and it's all set, Thanks!

f聖傑陳文盧筠 said...

成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.................................................................

新順 said...

還是喜歡這裡-支持你..................................................................

芳容222許林堅林芳容儀 said...

far from eye, far from heart...................................................

郁如郁如 said...

朋友是一面鏡子............................................................

王美妹 said...

認清問題就等於已經解決了一半的問題。..................................................................

江美娟江美娟 said...

開懷幸福的生活,是每個人的夢想~~希望大家都能夠實現!............................................................

芳瑜佩如 said...

謝謝您囉~~看您的分享文章是個很好的經驗~~............................................................

家榮家榮 said...

上班很累,摸個魚輕輕鬆鬆的逛部落............................................................

曾戴山柔曾戴山柔 said...

缺少智慧,就是缺少一切..................................................

曹初帆張武茜 said...

真正仁慈的人,會忘記他們做過的善行,他們全心投入現在的工作,過去的事已被遺忘。..................................................

蕭劉明倫松恬 said...

人們不缺少力量,他們缺少意志。.......................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

韋陳富 said...

人應該做自己認為對的事,而不是一味跟著群眾的建議走。..................................................

蔡曼鄭美玉屏 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

tongtong said...

善言能贏得聽眾,善聽才能贏得朋友。......................................................................

至馬馬馬馬玄馬馬馬馬 said...

你的分享很不錯.. 謝謝 ..................................................

翊翊翊翊張瑜翊翊翊 said...

謝謝大大的分享 我會學會反省與寬容 感恩 ∩△∩............................................................

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