Monday, July 16, 2007

not your mamma's chili

Oh, lawdy I'm making chili.

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 a head of garlic, smooshed or minced
a big sweet yellow onion, chopped

3 lbs boneless chuck steak or roast, cut in cubes

2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp super fire hot pepper like the habañeros my mamma grew in 1999, ground up
1 tsp salt (to start)
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 TBSP flour

12 oz. beer, a malty one if you have it
4 cups water or enough to fill the pot

a batch of white rice
some sour cream
some limes, cut in wedges

In a big pot on pretty high heat but not all the way HI, sauté the first block of ingredients a few minutes. Don't let anything get brown, just soft.

Add the meat and let it brown. You'll have to stir often to keep the onions from burning, but you want the cubes to sear on the outside. If you're using ground chuck, you just want it browned, not shrively. Drain a bit of the fat (not all of it) from the pot, using a strainer to catch the meat that's going to fall out into the sink no matter what you do.

Mix together the spices and flour - be sure to use a teacup, because it's just nice. Dump it into the browned chuck and stir it around a bit. It will get thick and dry pretty quick ...

Dump the beer in NOW, then add the water. Use your judgment - if you like thick chili, use less water, blah, blah. Turn the heat down to medium or medium low. You want the chili to simmer, not splurt out of the pot. Put a cover on, but leave it ajar so steam can escape. Simmer the chili at least an hour, but longer is better. It needs time to become chili and not just meat and salty water like Jacob said about his first soup. Check it every so often to make sure it's not burning.

The meat should fall apart a little and the chili should thicken a bit. If it seems watery, make a roux (that means put a big TBSP of flour in the teacup and stir 1/2 a cup of water in to make a smooth goo) and pour it in. Stir it well and cook a few minutes longer.

That's it. Serve the chili in bowls with a blob of rice in the bottom and a blob of sour cream on top. Squeeze a lime wedge over top. Delish.

TO MAKE SOME RICE: Put some rice in a pot and add water so it's one knuckle above the rice. Add a tsp of salt and a tsp of rice vinegar. Turn the heat to HI and bring just to a boil. Stir the rice and turn the heat to the lowest setting which is probably LO. Put the cover on tight and let the rice steam (without lifting the cover) until it smells like rice - about 15 minutes. When you lift the lid, the water will be absorbed and you'll have little pockmarks on the top of the rice.

YOU COULD PUT tomatoes in it, and you could add beans, but then you'd probably be making your mamma's chili, wouldn't you?

Makes enough chili for 4 people to scarf down in one night.
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