© 2013 Chris TerrellChili and college football:
Like Sonny & Cher!
Now that football season is in full swing, my culinary thoughts turn to chili, even if the thermometer still peaks into the 80s here in Alabama in mid-September, just a few days before the official start of fall. Chili is the ultimate dish for cooler/cold weather, which is my favorite time of year to cook. Full, rich food and crisp, cold air pair together like foie gras and Champagne.
Now, when I talk about chili I mean chili con carne—with meat. None of this vegetarian or, God forbid, vegan stuff for me. (Anthony Bourdain referred to veganism as the Taliban of vegetarianism.) I need serious protein to sustain me through the highs and lows of your typical grind-it-out SEC football contest.
Speaking of SEC football, I recently made my first batch of chili for the season during a highly hyped SEC game involving a love-him/hate-him quarterback and a love-him/hate-him football coach. I certainly needed more than chili to get me through that one! At least a six-pack!
I’ve been making chili for many years now. In fact, it may have been the first thing I made on my own for myself. (I don’t count the “Rookie Cookie” recipe from the kiddie section of the newspaper when I was a kid—I think it was something made with peanut butter.) I started off with a recipe from The Joy of Cooking and went from there. The great thing about chili is that it's cheap; you can make a lot of it to last you several days; and it gets better after a day or two.
I never make my chili the same way twice, but here’s a pretty decent approximation of how I make it. I know there are several long-running feuds in the chili world: beans vs. no-beans; tomatoes vs. no tomatoes; blah, blah, blah. I don’t care. Take this recipe and flush it for all I care (this is chili after all!) or modify it as you see fit.
The Insouciant Chef's Game-Day Chili
2 lbs ground chuck or ground sirloin
1 15 oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes (crushed by hand)
2 8 oz. cans of light red kidney beans, drained (sometimes I go with dark in late winter….)
1 large red or Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 medium green, bell peppers, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, finely chopped with sauce from the can depending on how hot you like it
Ancho chili powder
2-3 medium bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream, cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions to garnish
Brown the ground meat in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until nicely browned.
Drain the fat and place meat into a large stock pot or Dutch oven.
Sauté the green peppers and onions in olive oil or butter for a minute or two and then sweat them for about 5 mins. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about a minute) and then add to stock pot.
Add everything else (add the powders until you get the desired heat) and heat to a very mild simmer and stir occasionally for about 2-3 hours while you watch football.
Garnish with some sour cream, cheddar cheese, sliced green onion, and serve with tortilla chips. Serve with good beer, though by this time in the game you have moved on to the PBR. And savor the victory if your team wins. (Mine did, by the way!)