It’s a Fine Day for Chili

October 10, 2016


The Basic Chili Recipe

Shopping List: 1 pound ground bison, 1 large can chopped tomatoes, small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 bottle dark beer, 1 can black beans.

Staples: olive oil, 3 onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, chicken stock.

Optional: cream sherry, balsamic vinegar, 1 ounce chocolate, soy sauce, sour cream, grated cheddar.

Serves 4-6

Dice three medium onions and saute them in olive oil until they’re soft.  Add 6 cloves of garlic, smashed, and let them soften too. Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano, some salt and pepper, a bit of cumin and two teaspoons of your homemade chili powder – more if you like really hot food.

Add a pound of ground bison, and cook, stirring, until it loses its redness. Puree 3 or 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from a can) and stir that in along with a large can of tomatoes, chopped up, and another teaspoon of your chili powder.  Add a cup of homemade chicken stock, and a cup of a robust  dark beer and let it all simmer at a slow burble for a couple of hours. 

Before serving stir in a cup or so of black beans.  Now you get to play with the flavors.  Is it hot enough?  Do you want more chili powder? Sometimes I’ll melt an ounce or so of really good chocolate and stir that in to give it depth. Other times I’ll add a spoonful of fish sauce, or a splash of excellent balsamic vinegar.  Sometimes soy sauce to spark it up, other times cream sherry to mellow it down.  It all depends on my mood. The point is, when you’ve made your own chili powder, everything else is just window dressing.

Homemade Chili Powder

Shopping list: Dried Ancho, New Mexico and Habanero Chiles.

I like to use anchos for their winey richness, habaneros for their fruity heat and New Mexicos for their earthy sturdiness.

Wearing rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands, sponge off 2 Anchos, 3 New Mexico and 3 Habanero chiles (they’re almost always dusty). Cut them in half and remove the tips where the majority of seeds congregate. Discard the seeds.

Put the chiles into a heavy bottomed pan (I use cast iron), and toast them over medium high heat for about 4 minutes, turning from time to time with tongs, until they have darkened slightly. Allow them to cool and then grind the chiles to a powder in a spice grinder or coffee mill. Stir in a teaspoon of toasted and ground cumin.

You can serve this chili with cilantro, sour cream and grated cheddar. Or not. It’s that good.

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  • Linda says:

    Well, up here in maple leaf country, the meal of the day is turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, turnip puff, green beans or peas, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. Linda in Toronto

  • Terry Terflinger says:

    Made this dish last evening. I thought that the quantity of onions might be too much, used two large yellow onions. Added two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes and a can of black beans & one of kidney beans. Used a cup of Heineken. The onions reduced down as did the tomatoes, 1 1/2 hours of simmering. I thought the overall flavor of this chili was great. Look forward to making it again.

  • Elaine Ho says:

    Best chili ever my family has ever had. And so simple to make. Added cocoa powder at the end instead of chocolate. Making Ruth’s chili powder was so much fun too! An adventure going to local purveyors of spice and such rewarding flavour.