Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wolf's Chili

My chili pot kicks your
chili pot's ASS.

Tomorrow is the annual chili cook-off at my office. I've won the contest twice. Last year I was dethroned in what I still believe was a rigged vote count. It was a conspiracy, I tell ya! A conspiracy!

This year, I had some help in the kitchen--from my #1 son. I learned how to make chili from my old man and I'm passing down the tradition to my own progeny. Hey, it's probably the only "inheritance" the poor kid is ever going to get. Good thing he's a chili-lover.

Yup, nothing warms the stomach and the soul quite like a steaming bowl of hot, spicy, homemade chili, especially on a dreary day. I have developed many different recipes after years of tweaking and experimentation. (Yes many of them are secret recipes that I'm taking with me to the grave.) My Jamaican Jerk Chicken Chili is always quite a crowd pleaser, but the recipe that gets the most requests from family and friends is my good ol' basic "Wolf's Chili"

Naturally, there's beer in my recipe. Come on, there's beer involved whenever I'm cooking, even if it's just going inside the cook. For this recipe, you'll want to use something on the lighter side--a nice pilsner, hefeweizen, or wit. A big, flavorful brew won't do. No hop bomb for this recipe, please. My suggestion is that you buy a six pack of something delicious and a single can of blah beer for the chili. In any case, here's the recipe:

2 pounds beef chuck, cubed and slightly ground in food processor or blender
2 pounds pork shoulder, sliced into small 1/2 inch cubes
2 - 3 large Vidalia onions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 (12 fluid ounce) bottle or can of beer
2 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, kidney beans or black beans (whatever your preference or no beans if you're a chili purist)
4 - 5 dried Pasilla chiles
1 cup vegetable broth
2 fresh Pasilla chiles, seeded and chopped
4 fresh Jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
2 or MORE fresh Habanero chiles, seeded and chopped (only if you want it really HOT)
2 tablespoons flour - 1/3 cup chili powder - 2 tablespoons ground cumin - 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves - 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon - 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (optional)

1. Seed the dried Pasilla chiles and break them into pieces in a mixing bowl. Heat the veggie broth to a boil and pour over the chiles. You can use water, but I think the veggie broth adds a nice flavor. Let the chiles sit until they soften. It takes about 20 minutes, so you can prep other stuff while you wait. When soft, drain most of the broth and run the chiles through a blender or food processor until it's a smooth sauce.
2. Brown the pork in a very large skillet or wok over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until evenly browned. Add the beef and the dry spices. Drain the grease when the meat is fully cooked and add the fresh peppers, onions and garlic—cook until onions are just getting transparent. Transfer the meat/veggie mixture to a large soup pot. (If you have a giant, cast iron chili pot like mine, no transfer is necessary.) Add the beer, except for a ¼ cup and heat until it boils. Turn the heat down slightly and add the Pasilla chile sauce you made in step #1.
3. Mix the flour with the remaining beer in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Form a pocket of liquid in the middle of the meat mixture and pour in the beer/flour mix. Stir vigorously until it thickens. Add the tomatoes.
4. Cover the pot, and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Add the canned beans during the last 1/2 hour, if you want them. Turn off heat and let it sit for an hour or so. Reheat and serve.

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