My chili never turns out the same way twice. And I don’t really want it to, either. I just find some cool meat at the store, buy a ton of fresh peppers, blend up some dried peppers in some beef stock, cook it all up and put it in my face.
So, this time, I put a little bit of cinnamon in it, okay, and posted on Twitter that cinnamon is great in chili (because who does NOT want to know that, right?). A guy tweeted back with “Nooooo! Cinnamon doesn’t belong in chili!” So, again, there’s a person who has decided that a certain dish should never, ever have a particular ingredient in it. Sigh.
Now, chili is a dish that was made to use up the leftovers found in a Tex-Mex kitchen. I’m pretty sure that they would have spiced it with a hint of cinnamon, but hey, because it’s a brand new day, I decided not to argue the point; I will continue to put cinnamon in my chili. (Because I couldn’t completely let it go, I did direct him to my treatise on chili, Intuitive Chili. If you haven’t seen it already, go check it out; I’ll be here when you get back).
As per usual, I can’t give you hard and fast amounts of anything that I used. Rather, I hope to inspire you to poke around at the grocery store and find some likely looking ingredients to throw in your own version of chili.
Oh, about the name of this chili. I served it when my best friend and her daughter came to stay. Shellie is an Irish Dancer–you know, like those Riverdance folks? Anyway, she is Very Good at it, and she and her mom, my best friend Julie, were in town for a feis (pronounced fesh). A feis is when a bunch of Irish Dance type folks get together and see who’s the best in about a bajillion categories. There is a lot of curly hair, a lot of glitter, a lot of leaping about with arms at your sides, and a very lot of accordion music. Shellie came in first in her traditional set! Go, Shell!
I made this chili in honor of their visit. There’s nothing Irish about it except the name, and about 1/16 of me.
- 2 lbs pretty steak, , cut into 1/3" dice
- 1 lb TJ's chicken and jalapeno sausage, , casings removed, cut into 1/3" dice
- 1 lb TJ's pork carnitas, (this came pre-cooked and shredded--ready to go)
- 1 big-ass onion
- 3 cloves garlic, , minced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- chili powder, , lots
- dried Mexican oregano, (regular old oregano is fine, too)
- 2 bell peppers, , seeded and chopped
- 3 Anaheim peppers, , seeded and chopped
- 3 poblano peppers, , seeded and chopped
- 3 jalapeno peppers, , seeded and chopped
- 1 1/2 quarts beef stock, (I had homemade lying around in the freezer)
- 1 dark beer, (we used Black Toad from TJ's)
- mixture of dried peppers, , seeded and torn up in pieces (I used 3 each of Guajill0 and California, and 5 Japones)
- a little cocoa powder, (about 2 teaspoons, maybe)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- about 1/4 c. fine corn meal
- Heat pan. Put oil in pan. Heat oil.
- Brown off steak and sausage with some salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cook onions and garlic with some salt and pepper until translucent.
- Add the peppers in batches so they all get a little color on them.
- Add cumin and chili powder and a little more oil so you get a spice paste mixed in with the vegetables. Let that cook for a minute or two to toast the spices.
- Deglaze with the beer.
- Pour about 2 cups boiling beef broth over the dried pepper pieces and let hydrate for a few minutes.
- Blend this mixture to a smooth sauce/paste with an immersion blender and pour into the pot.
- Add the rest of the beef stock, the oregano, the cocoa powder and the Agasweet (or you could just use a pinch or two of cinnamon. Or you could leave the cinnamon out. It's your chili, after all)
- Add the reserved meat, including the carnitas, to the pan along with any collected juices.
- Keep at a low simmer for an hour or so. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the corn meal, a little at a time, for thickening and to give it amazing flavor.
- Continue simmering for another hour or two, until you Love It. You can fiddle with the seasonings a bit more here, too.
- I usually cool it at this point and reheat to serve the next day, or even the following. If you are starving and have nothing else to eat, go ahead and eat the chili. It will not suck.
So there you have it. A perfect chili dish to serve on a chilly night. Or even a cold night. Or maybe a hot night, along with an icy-cold adult beverage. This particular chili was darkly mysterious, what with the cocoa/cinnamon undertones, and it was really Very Very Tasty. Spicy, but not overly so. You could certainly up the ante by using more jalapenos, substituting or adding serranos or even throwing in some of your favorite hot sauce. I served it with some homemade cornbread, but you can serve it however you like.