Look at that gorgeous shade of red!
I occasionally become a randomly freakishly competitive person.
Randomly in that I will be struck by some odd thing at which I MUST EXCEL AND NOT ONLY EXCEL BUT CONQUER WITH ABSOLUTE SUPREMACY. I guess I just showed the level of freakishness. I can't predict when this will hit, and I can't tell you how amused I am with myself when it does.
When Tom emailed me from his office a few weeks ago with news of a chili cookoff, the old bug hit, and I knew it was going to be an epic battle. Perhaps it's because I'm still sad that I didn't even place at the last church chili cookoff. Apparently my chili was too hot. That doesn't make sense to me at all. 1) We are in Texas. 2) It wasn't that hot. 3) It's a chili cookoff--isn't hot part of the goal?! 4) It's TEXAS. I do need to say that there were some serious contenders in that cookoff, so I can't cry too hard. But still. I was dishonored. So now I sought glory not only for Tom (I mean what better bragging rights at a British company than the best ever chili?) but also foodie redemption for myself.
I, in spite of my fervor, did not win the chili cook off. The chili that won was a chicken chili with beans and capers. CAPERS?!?! The judges were British, fwiw, and I suppose I didn't pander to my audience enough. Sigh.
But redemption DID come when we took a dish of this to friends who returned from a mission trip abroad. The next week at church, one of them exuded that it was the BEST. CHILI. EVER. with those big eyes that mean business. Since these are well-traveled people with excellent food taste, I will consider this an unofficial chili cook off victory.
Official victory will be achieved one day soon!
Be prepared: this is a multi-hour adventure. But cooking is therapy! And I have made it as time-efficient as possible.
Ingredients, grouped by prep
4 anaheim peppers
2 serrano peppers
1 onions, sliced into broad rounds
6 cloves garlic, separated but not peeled
1 lb dried chilis (I used .5 lb ancho, .3 lb guajillo, .2 lb pasilla)
1 small can chipotles
2 c beef broth
5 lbs beef
4 T bacon grease
4 T cocoa powder
2 T cumin
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 T oregano
2 dashes cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 T almond butter
4 T tomato paste
1 bottle beer (Shiner, of course)
1 c coffee
3 cans fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans rotel
1 jar roasted green peppers
1/4 c masa
Step 1: preheat oven to 400. Wash peppers. USE GLOVES for the next part.* Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds, do same with serrano. Put all as well as sliced onion and garlic cloves on oiled cookie sheet and put in oven. Let cook 15 minutes.
In the meanwhile, snap stems off dried peppers and shake out seeds. USE GLOVES NO REALLY USE GLOVES.* I found it easiest to snap the top off, stick my index finger in and scrape the seeds out that way. Too many seeds=too hot chili later. This took me just a minute over 15 minutes. Put peppers on a cookie sheet in single layer.
At 15 minute point, take the cookie sheet with garlic and onion out of oven. Flip onion, remove garlic, put back in oven. If other (fresh) peppers are not sufficiently charred, put them back in oven. I had to roast another 20 minutes. Put dried peppers in oven for 2 minutes--no more or they will burn! Take them out, put them in a giant pyrex bowl and cover with water as hot as it comes from your tap. Put a plate on them to weigh them down. Let them sit 15 minutes. Drain and rinse (here's where the dust comes off)
At this point, you should have the dried peppers, garlic, and jalapeños ready (plus other peppers). Put 3 jalapeños, 3 cloves garlic (which you can now just squish out of their wrappers), 1/2 can chipotles, 1/2 onion, 1 c broth into a food processor. Put in half of the dried/reconstituted peppers. Pulse until you can puree it. I had to wrap it in a towel to keep it from splashing. Pour into pyrex bowl, repeat with other half onion, peppers, 1 c broth, 1/2 can chipotle, 3 jalapeños and 3 cloves garlic. Pour into bowl.
Start beef browning in pot with bacon grease. (I did this in two parts; accordingly, put in half of each ingredient if you do so) While it's browning, peel and chop the anaheim and poblano chiles. Put them in the bowl with the massive amount of chile puree. After beef is mostly cooked through, add cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and oregano. Let mingle. Add in almond butter. Add in beer, tomatoes and rotel and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the beer no longer smells of alcohol. Add in the coffee, giant vat of puree and chopped peppers and jar of roasted peppers. Add in masa. Stir well to mix, and cook at least 30 minutes more. Let sit on the stove to fill your house with delicious aroma.
All said and done, it takes about 2-3 hours, but some of that is wait and stir time. Not too bad for a dish that will keep on giving!
*If you should get pepper juice/oil/magma on your hands, use alcohol to scrub them thoroughly.