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Cooking Chili

IMG_8500, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It's braising time again! With the cooling weather, we can actually have the stove of the oven on for 8+ hours at a time without passing out from heat exhaustion. I had been considering how to usher in the season when Dorla emailed last week asking for a chili recipe. Chili is much more Tammi's area than mine, so I deferred to her and then took her recipe and tweaked it a bit. The base recipe is after the jump.

Since I happened to make a trip to Fette Sau the night before so I made a few yummy adjustments with what I had on hand:

I tossed in the bone from a smoked pork shank. It still had some chunks of meat on it, which took very well to the braise.

For liquid, I used what was left of a growler of beer from the night before (about a pint) and some pork stock I made a while back. You don't hear about pork stock too often, but it has come in handy.

Chili Recipe:

1 lb Slab Bacon
3-4 lb Beef Chunks
2 large Onions
1 head Garlic, peeled
1 Red Bell Pepper
1-3 Chile Peppers
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt & Pepper
1 Tb Cumin
1/4 cup Chili Powder
1 Large Can Plum Tomatoes in Puree
1 can Tomato Paste

The beans are Tammi's area, the amount is up to you. She loves a lot of beans, so I used 3-4 cups of dried beans. Use red, white, or whatever your preference.

1.. Put the pot, preferably a large dutchpot, over a high flame.

2. Cook the bacon first, remove it from the pot.

3. Brown the beef chunks in the bacon fat. Remove.

4. Lower heat. Add chopped onions, I'd go with 2 large ones. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until they soften and turn a golden shade.

5. While onions are cooking, season the beef with salt, pepper, cumin (powder) and chili powder, maybe a little thyme or oregano if you have it.

6. Add chopped garlic, bell peppers, carrots and corn to onions, sauté briefly, 3-4 minutes.

7. Return Beef and Bacon to the pot, mix it all together.

8. Add Tomato Paste and a large can of Whole Tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you add them.

9. Throw in the chile peppers. To get more spice, cut the pepper in half before adding it in. The exposed ribs and seeds will heat things up. Conversely, remove the ribs and seeds if you want to dull that down and just get the chile's flavor without the heat.

10. If you're using dried beans they should have soaked over night before going in the chili. If you're using canned beans, you can hold off on adding them until the meat has been cooking for a while. Drain the liquid before you add them.

11. Now as far as the cooking liquid is concerned, you'll probably have plenty in there already, you just want to top it off. Stock is good, but some like to use beer or wine. I use what's on hand. The flavor will vary pretty wildly from one liquid to the other, so think about how you want it to taste. Even beer will vary in flavor depending on whether you use a malty stout or a lighter lager.

12. At this point you want to lower the heat and let it cook at a low simmer, covered, for an hour or two. Add canned beans after the first hour.

When the meat is tender enough to cut with a fork, it's ready.

When serving, toss in some chunks of cheddar and a dollop of sour cream if you have it.

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