Ha…you don’t really think that I would say that there is “only one recipe for chili” do you? First of all, I think there is more than one recipe for any dish (well almost…I do hate when people make things like pumpkin crème brûlée…why not leave well enough alone).
However, chili is one of those dishes that has many different recipes. I bet if you asked a million chili eaters or makers, that they would all have a different version for the best chili.
I was feeling like chili for lunch last weekend (believe it or not, I even picked up a can of pre-made chili…but I couldn’t do it. I have made chili at least 25 times in my life and I think I make a pretty good chili, so there was no way I was going to buy a can. Especially when I know how easy it is to make. The problem though, is that I never follow a recipe. I just make it up and sort of play with it as I go. For me, it’s sort of a “taste and season” along the way.
Of course that kind of recipe, or should I say “‘lack-of-recipe” is hard to pass along to people. So I thought I would get to making it and write things down as I went. But first I wanted to do some research. I must have spent about an hour reading a ba-ghill-ion recipes on “the ultimate” chili, the “best” chili, “blue ribbon” chili…but it was all too much. I found sites that had hundreds of recipes for chili, “chili I”, Chili II, Chili III, by the time I was finished I wanted to go back to the store to buy that can of chili.
Then I remembered that there was a recipe for chili, that was submitted to the test kitchen awhile back. I took a look and I thought to myself, I will use this as my base and just personalize it. I just don’t think we need more than one decent recipe for chili, especially if mine was going to be so similar.
I like my chili simple. Basically meat, beans and spices. I know there are a million other ways to make it, but this is the way I imagine it in my mind. This is of course the reason why I omitted the carrots and celery in the recipe. To me they just don’t belong, but even Joe said “too bad there weren’t carrots and celery in here”. I said, “make your own, this is the way I like it” :-)
I also left out the chorizo, but I am sure that is good in there, I just didn’t have any and I am okay with just good old ground beef. I also left out the extra tomato sauce, as I used whole tomatoes in tomato puree, so I just used the puree instead. Besides, I like my chili thick! The only other changes I made were a few personal touches. I add a couple of teaspoons of chipotle pepper puree. I also added my secret touch, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Oh ya, I also added a bay leaf for good luck and a few good pinch of cayenne pepper.
To finish, I did not add the 1/4 lb of butter (I know shocking right)…instead I garnished it with Mexican Crema, grated cheese and few sprigs of fresh cilantro. I was also going to add a few pickled jalapenos, but I forgot!
In the end I had enough for dinner that night (never made it in time for lunch). I then froze the rest of it in portion-sized packs for another day. Hmmm…I think I know what I am having for lunch tomorrow!!
So tell me…what kinda chili eater/maker are you? Is it chuck meat all the way, or is brisket your thing. Do you add mushrooms, or do you despise them? Do you add a bunch of veggies or do you make a mean veggie chili? What is it about chili to you that makes it “good chili”?
Ciao for now,