Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Chili Conundrum

We're having a chili cook-off at work this week. The winner will make their chili recipe for the Mainstreet Chili Cook-Off competition. Great, right? Wrong. See, I'm highly competitive. I NEED TO WIN. However, the task of making at least 3 gallons of chili for the Mainstreet competition is something that I really don't want to ever have to undertake. You see the problem here, right? Do you think I can win, but then graciously hand off my title to someone else so they have to make all that chili? That would be nice...

Oh well.

I made my chili today. I wanted to take my time with it, instead of rushing to get it done after I get home from work Monday. Either this will give my chili time to meld it's flavors and become extra delicious so that I win, or it will go bland from sitting in the fridge un-loved and un-eaten and I'll lose because my chili has turned against me.

Simple Chili
Loosely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

-two cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2 TB cumin
-2 TB chili powder
-1 TB Chipotle chili powder (or just 3 TB chili powder, but the chipotle is magical!)
-2 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp liquid smoke
-1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
-16 oz tomato sauce
-1/2 cup beef broth
-2 pounds ground beef (for the love of all things good and great, please use 80/20! think of the flavor!)
-1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, very important!) + 1/2 cup water
-1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot, brown the meat and garlic. Drain excess fat. 

Okay, confession time. You know how I said to make sure you use 80/20? that's because I screwed up. I used one pound of 80/20, but the other pound I grabbed was.....93/7. I wanted to slap myself. So to compensate, I may have added a 1/2 TB of bacon fat to the meat while browning it...I drained off the fat when it was done, okay? Sheesh...don't judge. Chili with an undertone of bacon flavor? Oh hell yes. In fact, ADD THE BACON FAT NO MATTER WHAT!


When your meat is browned, add in your spices and tomato sauce, plus the liquid smoke. 

Give everything a good stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover your pot. Allow the chili to simmer for an hour, adding the beef broth half way through. I like a little more 'beef flavor concentration', so instead of using ready made broth, I grabbed a whole beef bullion cube and tossed it into half a cup of water. After an hour, whisk together the masa and the water in a small bowl, then pour into chili and incorporate.

Don't skip this step. Seriously. It pulls everything together and gives your chili this amazing corn flavor that just screams 'comfort food!' Between this, the chipotle pepper, and the bacon fat (which we don't need to speak of again...) this chili has some deliciously complex things happening. Throw in some kidney beans, and we've got a party, folks. 

If The Boyfriend were here, I'm sure he'd insist on adding in some vegetables. You can feel free to do that, too. A can of diced tomatoes and onions, some green chilis, etc.... However, I'm going to continue to be an 'Murican and inhale my meat and beans straight up, with the only additions being sour cream and cheese.


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