Four Chili-Chili

Many times I’ve tried to look up, what makes a traditional Chili, but there are so many opinions that I gave up. Nowadays, I think I know some of the basics, see what I have at home, and go from there. So this may not be traditional at all, but it is kinda close, and just tastes great.

Serves 3-4, Preparation time: 25m, Cooking time: 60m (minimum, try to let it stew for longer)

The Stuff

  • 400g minced beef
  • 150g bacon bits
  • (a bit of leftover pulled pork)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cummin seeds
  •  half a piece of star anise
  • tsp of pure chocolate powder
  • tsp of sugar
  • decent splash of cheap whisky
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • half a dried habanero
  • half a dried Bhut Jolokia (bad idea)
  • half a dried cayenne
  • 1 dried bird’s eye pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The Cook

  1. Skillet on medium heat: roast chili and cummin seeds. Take out and put aside once brown and fragrant. If you have a mortar and pestle, crush the everything/

  2. Add oil to skillet and sweat the bacon bits and chopped onion.

  3. Turn up the heat to high and add the beef (and pulled pork), cook untill brown.

  4. Stir in the minced garlic, the chili-cummin mix, spices, chocolate and sugar. Cook for 2 min.

  5. Once all is mixed, turn up the heat and add a decent splash of the whisky, and scrape the brown bits off the bottom.

  6. Add the kidney beans, worcestershire sauce, and some water until the fluids reach half of the chili.

  7. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Balance the hotness with sugar, or lime juice.

  8. Let it simmer for a while, the longer the better, but keep stiring so the bottom doesnt burn. Add water if it gets too dry. 

The Nuts and Bolts

Right, today was a lazy sunday, so to combat that, I decided it was time to get the old mountainbike back on the road for the first time this year. After a short round, I got back home and was hungry. It was nowhere near diner time, so I thought it was a good idea to heat up some leftover stuff from the fridge. This somehow turned into, I guess, a reasonably semi-authentic chili. At the same time, it was a good excuse to finally use a bunch of dried chili peppers I had grown last year. The chili is simmering as I am writing this down, so I’m not sure how the result will be, but it seems to be coming along nicely. 

  1. Put a skillet on the stove, medium heat. This will be your single cooking vessel for the entire cook. Cut up your chilis and start roasting these off together with the cummin seeds. If you use preground cummin, skip this roasting step and just add it later. How many chilis is all up to you and it will take some trial and error. This time, I used four kinds of chilis, mainly because I had them lying around, but use whatever you want. This  specific chili turned out to be quite hot indeed, so go easy.

  2. Once brown/roasted, crush the lot with a mortar and pestel and put aside. A fair warning: depending on which chilis you use and how many, the vapor during roasting and dust during crushing could act like tear gas. It nailed me once before so be careful.

  3. Add some oil to the skillet and start sweating off the onions and bacon bits. Once the onions are soft, turn up the heat and add the beef. You need the higher temperature to get some color on the beef. If you don’t, the meat will start to boil, and you end up with the grey beef we’re all too familiar with. I also added some leftover pulled pork at this stage, but in no way is this necessary, or even authentic.  Once the meat is brown add the garlic, chillis-cummin mix, the other spices, chocolate and sugar and stir it in. After a min or two, give it a good splash of whisky. Be mindful, the alcohol could burst into flame, either by accident or on purpose by tilting the pan for great effect, but that is allright. Main thing here is to use the whisky to stir loose the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. This is where most of the flavor is and  you want it back into the mix, not stuck to the pan.Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Add the kidney beans, some worcestershire sauce and enough water to cover half of the chili in liquids. Taste and season. If it is too spicy, add a bit of sugar or a bit of lime juice. Time to simmer. How long? It depends on how hungry you are. You could eat it the minute the beans are done, but as with most stews, the flavor will get better with longer cooking times. Just remember to keep it moist by adding water whenever necessary.