Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chilly Nights of Chili

I've ranted and raved before about what it takes to be "chili" ok so technically that was about the use of chile in chili...guess that means I can rant about the perfect Texas chili now.   What is Texas chili you ask?  Well let's see, it is not:
  • Something that contains beans
  • Served on a bun
  • Eaten over spaghetti
  • Something that has celery, rice, or other funny ingredients in it
Ok, so I'm sure you have some reason why I'm wrong, why? Because everyone who likes chili is passionate about what it contains/doesn't contain, how it's served or what you should eat it with.  How can one food inspire such strong feelings, after all it's just a meat stew right? Well it might have something to do with the fact that there are so many regional variations on the dish ranging from ingredients (the aforementioned beans, celery, rice, etc.) to how it's served, in Cincinnati for instance it's served over spaghetti ?!? (if you could only see the alarm on my face!)  Generally speaking here in Texas (aka God's Country) we've accepted there are no beans in chili, it isn't served over spaghetti, it's not a sloppy joe and really unless you're in a Tex-Mex restaurant it doesn't go over tortillas/tamales/burritos, etc. It is socially acceptable to serve it over/with Fritos and cheese or cornbread but beware, doing something else will definitely mark you as a non-Texan.

Spicy Whiskey Chili

1/4 cup good quality whiskey
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2½ cups beef broth
2 medium onions, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3 red or orange bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Chalula chipotle hot sauce
2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons backstrap molasses
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2½ pounds sirloin steak, ground on 'chili' grade grinder
3-4 slices of bacon (3 if it's thicker cut) cut into ½-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until they are translucent in a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Add bacon once onions turn translucent and let bacon get nearly fully crisped. Add garlic and bell peppers with bacon.
2. Add ground sirloin and let it brown, mixing in  2 teaspoons of oregano, cumin, cocoa powder, and coriander.
3. Add tomatoes with juices to pot along with 2 teaspoons of molasses and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Add whiskey and beef broth and let it come up to a boil.
4. Once boiling add remainder of dried spices and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to pot as well as hot sauce.  Taste for flavoring and add salt/pepper as needed.
5. Let simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 1 hour, if chili is not at your desired thickness add tomato paste to adjust. 
6. Serve with sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream (or greek yogurt) and avocado to top.

While I usually try to stick to a pretty 'paleo' diet anyway, our crossfit box is holding an eight-week paleo challenge starting this Saturday....eight weeks is a long time so I decided it was ok to let myself enjoy some cheese and sour cream with my chili :)  If you were to leave those dairy items off the list you'd have a paleo pot of Texas Chili...quite tasty for a chilly winter night! 

Note about chili, it's tasty the day of but it gets better with a little sitting as: leftovers are worth fighting for!
Good Old Fashioned Beanless Texas Red Chili


Katherine Aucoin said...

Now that's some serious looking chili. I've pur bourbon in chili before and it really deepens the flavor. I bet the whiskey really gives your chili a rich, full flavor.

grace said...

i truthfully can't imagine a good chili without beans, but then again, i was raised in virginia and not texas. :) the ingredients here certainly seem to compensate for the lack of beanage though--great recipe!

Reeni said...

Love that you put whiskey in here! And I confess I never had a chili with any kind of beef but ground. I need to fix that and make some chili with steak. It has me seriously drooling.

Kerstin said...

Wow, your chili sounds so flavorful! I found the top chef episode so interesting when everyone in TX thought chili shouldn't have beans in it, I had no idea :)