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Chili: It's a Matter of Taste

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  • Jamie Rahm
    Chili: It s a Matter of Taste What s in the best? 21 October 2001 / The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer By Susan Selasky Knight Ridder Newspapers Making a great
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2001
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      Chili: It's a Matter of Taste

      What's in the best?

      21 October 2001 / The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

      By Susan Selasky
      Knight Ridder Newspapers

      Making a great bowl of chili is a personal thing. Given its status as
      fall's greatest comfort food, that's the way it should be.

      Several staffers at the Detroit Free Press, in fact, piped up about
      their chili preferences after sampling these recipes. One boasted
      that his is the best, bar none. He turned coy, though, when quizzed
      why, offering only that he uses six kinds of meat and lets it simmer
      all day.

      Another said he makes a good Southwestern-style chili using corn and
      black olives. He enters it in a local competition among friends to
      benefit charity. He didn't mention whether he comes out on top, but
      we think he's a winner regardless.

      No matter how you make it, this is the right time for a steaming bowl
      of chili for several reasons:

      1) Chile peppers are usually harvested in September.

      2) The air is getting chilly.

      3) The International Chili Society's 35th Annual World Championship
      Chili Cook-Off was held Sept. 30 in Reno, Nev.

      Competitions -- where there is a moratorium on beans and other such
      fillers -- aside, anything goes in home-cooked chili, as shown by our
      recipes for White Bean Chicken Chili and Heartland Vegetarian Chili.

      The only requirement is that cooks get creative when flavoring the pot.

      Jim Weller of West Bloomfield, Mich., who took the top prize of
      $25,000 at last year's World Champion Chili Cook-Off, says the No. 1
      requirement for a good chili is the gravy, which is a complex blend
      of spices, aroma, consistency and taste.

      "It has to be pungent enough to get the attention of the judges and
      needs to carry some heat to the back of the mouth," Weller says. "All
      the meat does is give body to the chili."

      Blended chili powders aren't out of the question, but choose wisely
      for a variety of flavors. Store brands and signature blends use the
      same basic ingredients but offer differences in heat and character.
      Test to find out which you like best.

      If you love beans, toss those in, too. Get innovative and use a
      variety: light and dark kidney beans, Great Northern beans, limas and
      lentils, among others, add flavor and texture and are an excellent
      source of fiber.

      Vegetables? You bet. Onions are a given -- saute first to release the
      sweet flavor yet maintain the shape -- but add chopped bell peppers
      in a variety of colors, fresh chiles and canned or fresh tomatoes, a
      great source of lycopene, an antioxidant with many health benefits.)
      Corn, squash, carrots, chick peas and celery all are possibilities,
      too.

      Pasta is also a matter of choice. Toss in a few handfuls of macaroni
      or a few fistfuls of spaghetti to add some starch to your spicy
      delight. Just be sure to wait till the end of your cooking time so
      your pasta doesn't turn to mush.

      Finally, what's a big bowl of chili without cornbread? Spice up
      traditional recipes with chopped jalapenos, cheddar cheese or corn.
      Heck, you could do all three. As it is inside the pot, anything goes.


      ANNIE RAE'S HOT N' SASSY CHILI

      Vegetables:
      2 tbs. olive oil
      2 medium red onions, peeled, chopped
      3 stalks of celery, washed, chopped
      2 large green peppers, washed, cored, chopped
      3-4 small Hungarian yellow peppers, chopped
      1 jalapeno pepper, washed, chopped with seeds

      Beef mixture:
      3 1/2 pounds of ground sirloin
      1 small white onion, peeled, chopped
      1 pound of beef stew meat
      1 tbs. olive oil

      Tomatoes and spices:
      3 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes
      1 can (28 oz.) stewed tomatoes
      1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
      1 can (14 oz.) zesty diced tomatoes
      1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
      1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
      1/2 tsp. white pepper
      1/2 tsp. black pepper
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1/2 tsp. cumin
      1/2 tsp. dill weed
      1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
      3 tbs. garlic powder
      5-6 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, minced

      In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the red onion,
      celery, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and Hungarian peppers until
      softened; remove from the skillet and set aside.

      In a large stock pot, brown the ground sirloin with the white onion,
      leaving the grease in the pan. In a large skillet, heat the remaining
      1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the beef stew meat.

      Add the stew meat and sauteed vegetables to the large stock pot with
      the ground sirloin. Add all the tomatoes, sauces and spices. Let
      simmer 3 hours.

      Makes 20 generous servings.

      FIREWORKS CHILI

      Spice mix:

      9 tbs. chili powder (use a mix of California chile powder, New Mexico
      hot chile powder and New Mexico Chimayo chile powder)
      3 tbs. ground cumin
      1/2 tsp. black pepper
      1 tsp. oregano
      1 tbs. beef bouillon
      1 tsp. brown sugar

      Chili ingredients:
      1-2 tbs. olive oil, divided
      3 pounds bottom sirloin, cut into 3/8-inch cubes
      Granulated garlic to taste
      1 large onion, peeled, chopped
      1 can (8 ounces) green chiles, chopped
      6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
      1 can (14 1/2 ounces) beef broth
      1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
      1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
      Salt to taste

      In a small bowl, combine the spice mix ingredients; set aside. In a
      large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the cubed meat
      and brown. Sprinkle the meat with granulated garlic while browning.
      In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium
      heat. Add the onion, garlic and green chiles. Cook until tender. Add
      the browned meat to the stock pot. Add the broths and tomato sauce to
      the pot. Add 2/3 of the spice mix and stir. Cover and simmer 2 hours.
      Add the remaining spices and simmer 1 more hour or until meat is
      tender. Add salt to taste.

      Cook's note: Chimayo chile powder comes from northern New Mexico
      peppers that are milder and sweeter in flavor. Check mail-order
      sources.

      Makes about 3 quarts.


      HEARTLAND VEGETABLE CHILI

      2 tbs. corn oil
      1 large onion, peeled, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
      2 to 3 tbs. chili powder
      1 tsp. ground cumin
      1/4 tsp. dried basil
      1/4 tsp. dried oregano
      2 medium zucchini, washed, ends removed, chopped (about 2 generous cups)
      2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 1 cup)
      1 can (15 1/2 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
      1 can (15 1/2 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
      1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, undrained

      In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion
      and garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, basil
      and oregano, stirring frequently. Add the zucchini and carrots and
      cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garbanzo
      beans, kidney beans and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce
      the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to
      desired consistency.

      Makes 6 servings.


      CHELI'S CHILI

      3 pounds lean ground beef
      2-3 medium onions, peeled, about 2 cups chopped
      3 tbs. chopped garlic
      3 pounds ripe tomatoes, washed, diced
      2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
      2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) chili beans such as Brooks
      2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
      1 can (10 1/2 ounces) tomato soup
      1/2 cup favorite blended chili powder
      Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

      In a large pot, saute the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Add
      the onions and cook over medium-high heat until the meat is browned;
      add the garlic and cook several more minutes. Drain the fat.

      Reduce the heat, add the tomatoes and simmer 30 minutes.

      Add the tomato sauce, chili beans and kidney beans and bring to a low
      boil. Add the tomato soup, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Simmer
      15 minutes.

      Makes 12 generous servings.


      JIM WELLER'S MACKTOWN CHILI

      Spice mix:
      8 tbs. mild California chile powder
      2 tbs. hot New Mexico chile powder
      3 tbs. cumin
      1 tbs. granulated garlic
      1 tbs. granulated onion
      1/2 tbs. arrowroot

      Chili:
      3 pounds bottom sirloin, cubed small
      Oil as needed
      1 can (141/2-ounce) beef broth
      1 can (141/2-ounce) chicken broth
      1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
      1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
      Water as needed
      Salt to taste

      In a small bowl, combine all the spice mix ingredients and set aside.
      In a large skillet, brown meat cubes in a small amount of oil. When
      browned, drain the meat well in a colander.

      Place the beef in a large stock pot and add the tomato sauce and beef
      and chicken broths. Add three-quarters of the spice mix, bring the
      mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for
      2 hours. Add the Tabasco sauce and remaining spice mix. If necessary,
      add water if it becomes too thick. Cook an additional half-hour or
      until the meat is tender. Add salt to taste.

      Makes about 3 quarts chili.


      CORNBREAD

      Shortening for greasing the pan
      1 cup all-purpose flour
      1 cup yellow, white or blue cornmeal
      2 tbs. sugar
      1 tbs. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. salt
      2 eggs
      1 cup milk
      1/4 cup vegetable oil

      Optional ingredients:
      1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
      1 can (12 ounces) whole corn, drained
      1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies

      Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.

      In a mixing bowl combine the flour cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and
      salt. In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, milk and oil. Add
      the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing to just combine. Do
      not overmix. The batter should be lumpy. Stir in desired optional
      ingredients.

      Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly and cut
      into squares.

      Makes 9 servings.
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