Hello, I'm the Balloon Pirate, the newest member of this here foody blog. Cadbury invited me, so blame him.
I'm a single dad with two young kids at home, so most of my cooking is done fast and cheap, and with a minimum of utesnils.
My first contribution is a recipe that I posted on my blog a year or so ago. It's actually one of my more work-intensive recipes, but it's one of my favorite dishes.
Thanks for letting me be a part of the process!
I apologize for a relative lack of measurement here, but I don't really measure all that much when I cook chili. I usually use my hands as a rule of thumb. So I've included my own personal measuring unit in this post.
The following will produce 4-6 bowls of chili, depending on how generous you are. It's easy to double and triple, because all of the ingredients are self-contained; i.e., one can of pinto beans, one can of tomato paste, et c.
paring or small utility knife
cooking spray or a small amount of olive oil
I can make my chili with the dutch oven alone, but it's faster and easier to use the skillet.
1 lb top round or sirloin beef, trimmed*
16 oz pinto beans, drained (one can)
1 onion (fist sized)
2-to-4 jalapeño peppers (thumb-sized), or more if you want. It's your digestive tract.
1 red bell pepper (you can use green if you want, but I like the red for its color)
1 clove garlic
6 oz tomato paste (one of those tiny cans)
1 oz (or so)Masarepa (pre-cooked corn meal)--spread out over a dinner plate
2 bottles of beer**
chili powder (optional)
hot sauce (my choice: Jump up and Kiss Me Smoky Chipotle)
Extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
corn bread or muffins
First things first. If you're wearing contact lenses TAKE THEM OUT NOW. You'll be handling some foods high in capsascin, and the last thing you'll want to do is try to take your lenses out afterwards. Trust me on this. It's OK. I'll wait.
You're back. Good.
Put on the gloves and start chopping. Do the jalapeños first. How spicy do you want it? Obviously, the more jalapeños you use, the hotter it gets. Removing the seeds and inner membranes will also cut down on the ol' scovilles. I've found that four peppers, (seeds removed) is about as hot as anyone really wants it. If you really like it hot, skip the next paragraph.
To remove the seeds, I roll the pod on the chopping block with the palm of my hand, back and forth a couple of times. Then I slice off the top of the pod (at the stem), and shake most of the seeds out into the trash. Sometimes I'll roll the pod a few more times between my palms inverted this way, getting as many seeds out as possible. Then, I slice the pods lengthwise, and remove any remaining membranes and seeds with the paring knife. You could use the chef's knife for this, but I've found the small blade works best. Once seeded and de-membraned, chop them small and put them in the dutch oven.
Chop the onion and bell pepper next. Chop these guys a little coarser--I go for pieces about the size of the tip of my pinky--and slide them into the dutch oven with the jalapeños. If you have a garlic press, use it to add the clove, or just chop it really fine, add it, and pour about half a bottle of the beer over them, add a couple of pinches of salt, and start simmering.****
While simmering, get to the beef. I use top round (london broil) or sirloin because the fat's easy to trim from it. Trim the fat (if not already done by the butcher), and then cut the beef into small chunks--again, the tip of my pinky is my reference. Now, it's time to braise the meat.
(Don't try to do all of the meat at one time. It's possible, but this works best if you give the meat some room. Do 6-8 ounces at a time, depending on the size of your skillet)
Pre-heat your skillet to medium-high (using the cooking spray or oil at the appropriate time), dredge the meat in the masarepa, and sear it in the skillet, about 2-3 minutes, until the juice starts coming out of the meat. Add about 1 tbsp. of the tomato paste, and turn the beef into it, until the paste caramelizes on the beef, and dump it into the dutch oven. Then, deglaze the pan with 2-3 ounces of beer (pour the beer into the hot pan and stir it around to get all the caramelized tomato paste off the pan.) Let it simmer and reduce in size for about a minute, and dump it in with the rest of the stuff. Repeat as necessary. (If you're only using the dutch oven, slide the cooked meat out to the edges, cook the next batch in the middle, and don't bother deglazing)
Then add the beans and the rest of the beer, cover, and cook for at least 10 minutes (15 if you're only using the dutch oven, and have added the veggies second) on medium-low heat. I often do this in the oven (set at 300), but it can be done just as easily on the stovetop.
After that, uncover, stir, and add another pinch or two of salt, a couple pinches (probably 1/8th teaspoon) of cumin, a dash of cinnamon, a splork or three of hot sauce, and stir it in. I'm not going to tell you how much or little to add, really. It's all personal preference. I just advise adding a little at a time. It's always easy to add more. Next to impossible to remove too much. Let it cook uncovered for a while--maybe 5-10 minutes, to let the liquid reduce, stirring occasionally. If it's still too soupy for your tastes, add some masarepa. If you want more spice, add a little at a time, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before you taste. Repeat until it's the way you want it.
I like to let my chili simmer on low heat for an hour at this point, but it's ready to be served at anytime after the first half hour of cooking.
I put the pot in the middle of the table, along with a big bowl of shredded cheddar, a bowl of sour cream, and a basket of muffins. My reccomended serving procedure is: line the bottom of the bowl with the cheese, add the chili, add a dollop of sour cream on top, and serve with the muffin and a beer. My beer of choice is Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale, but since that's not available in the United States, I usually go with a Labatts.
*If you can get a butcher to trim it for you, order a pound, trimmed. If you buy it pre-wrapped, figure about 1-2 ounces of the package will be fat, and buy accordingly
**Or more, if you're planning on having some while you cook. I usually use Labatts, but any ale will do.
***I recommend Himalayan Mountain Red Sea salt, which is mined from deep underground mines that are high up in the Himalayan mountain range. If, for some reason, you find yourself short of this kitchen staple, I suggest Fleur de Sel, which is harvested by hand off the village of Guerande in Brittany in July and August, when the sea is calm and the weather conditions are just right.
Or, just grab a handful of Morton's. It's salt for chrissakes.
****If you're only using the dutch oven, do the meat first, and add the veggies afterwards. It just takes a little bit longer to cook.