Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Real Good Chili Real Fast

It's January and when the weather turns cold my thoughts run toward homemade chili. There is nothing so satisfying as a big bowl of hot spicy chili that has been cooking in a pot for several hours letting all the flavors meld as the aroma wafts through the house, enticing you with its subtle charms. That topped with some “made from scratch” home-baked corn bread hot from the oven, butter dripping down the sides is all I need to feel complete as a man.

Unfortunately, I live in the real world. Who has the time? I usually spend no more than 30 minutes on a meal during the week and less if I can get away with it. With that said, I see no reason to deprive myself of one of life’s greatest pleasures, homemade chili. Over the years I have devised a few tricks to creating a good “homemade” chili in a fraction of the time it should take.

Here is what I do

2 Dried Ancho Chilis
2 Cups Boiling Water
1 Medium onion diced
2 TBSP Olive Oil
3 TBSP Chili Powder
2 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
½ Tsp Dried Chipotle Pepper Powder or Cayenne Pepper
1 TBSP Dona Maria Mole
2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
1 lb Coarsely Ground Beef
½ Tsp Mexican Oregano
Dash of Cinnamon
1 14.5 oz Can of Diced Tomatoes (Preferably Muir Glen Organic)
Salt to taste
1 Can Red Kidney Beans (Drained)
3 TBSP Masa Harina (MaSeCa)
Splash of warm water

In a small bowl, place the dried chilis in the boiling water and let them soak for approximately 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven heat the olive oil and sweat the diced onions for about 3-4 minutes until they are translucent.

Secret Weapon Number One: Add the chili powder, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, and dried chipotle pepper to the onions to “bloom” the dried spices. They will create a dry paste in the pot.

Secret Weapon Number Two: Dona Maria Mole, available in most supermarkets in the international/ Mexican aisle. It has a pry off tin lid and once you open the jar you will find a lot of oil. Don’t worry about it, just scoop out a good heaping spoonful (it will be thick and pasty) and add to the pot. Let it melt down a little and then add the ground beef and cook until browned. Then add the crushed garlic, oregano, can of diced tomatoes and salt to taste.

Secret Weapon Number Three: Remove the dried ancho chilis from the water, seed and loosely chop them. Place them in a blender with about half of the hot water. Blend well and add to the chili pot. Partially cover the chili and cook for about 20 minutes on low heat.

Secret Weapon Number Four: In a small bowl, add the Masa Harina (corn flour) to some warm water and create a slurry. If you can’t find Masa Harina, you can use corn meal, or, if your really in a pinch, soak some corn tortillas and crumble them into the chili. Add the slurry to the chili, mix well, then add the kidney beans and cook for an additional five minutes.

Serve immediately. For a change of pace, don’t put grated cheddar cheese on your chili, try some grated Gruyere cheese. The nutty flavor and melty nature of Gruyere makes a delicious topping to chili. I also like shaved parmesan.

Serve with some freshly baked corn bread. You can make it yourself from scratch, and it’s really good that way, but I cheat. Use a corn muffin mix, follow the instructions on the box and add what you would like. I’ve added canned corn, roasted red peppers, jalapeno peppers just to name a few. I bake mine in a cake pan and top with a dusting of turbinado sugar and cayenne pepper. 16-18 minutes to perfection.

The last great news about this chili recipe is that if you do find yourself with a couple of hours the longer you let this simmer, the better it tastes. Be sure not to add the beans until the very end. It also makes a mean chili dog the next day.


Tami said...


Congrats on your Chili Award! Someone in the family to be proud of!

Chili is my favorite, well besides guacamole, well maybe your salsa, well maybe anything chocolate, well maybe..... how about chili with avocodo?

Tami said...

whoops, avocado

Mick said...

My father has made a great chili for years. The smell of his simmering chili wafting through the house on a winter's day is a great childhood memory. But I'm going to have him check out your blog to see if he's interesting in experimenting by trying out your recipe. Yummm!

I clicked on the picture of the chilis to see the larger version -- love the gorgeous photograph.

Patrick said...

You should love that photograph, You sent it to me! Today would be a great day for some chili.

Mike said...

Hi, Patrick: Mick's dad here. Your recipe sounds yummy and I will try it soon. The last batch of chili I produced included 4 lbs of ground pork and beef formed into patties and cooked over a woodfire of sugar maple the day before I started chili in the pot. The meat absorbed a goodly amount of smoke and added to the overall chili goodness. I included buns and chopped onions in case anyone wanted a chili dog. Good seller!


Mike Snyder

Patrick said...

Mike, you let me know the next time you make chili. I'm coming to your house!

Elizabeth Strout said...

Totally love the recipe but I would love to have a chili cook off. You Ready big guy? Tami and Steve can be the judges....This Spring?

Patrick said...

Beth, You are on! I have more than a few chili tricks up my sleeve. Can't wait to see you too!!