Tuesday, March 3, 2009

True Tex-Mex Chili.- The Great Chili Cook-off

The Gauntlet has been thrown. The weapons? Pots of chili at dawn.
To bean or not to bean? That is the question!      Sorry.
This chili contains no tomatoes, you could add beans, but not black beans, please. It is supposed to be the authentic border chili. Adapted from a family chuckwagon recipe given me by the Sanchez brothers from Houston, whose family had been cattle drovers and ranged from Texas to Canada. (Used to be called Cowboys.) The original recipe had no garlic either, and substitutes white hominy for the beans.

First, very important to note that the chilies which should be used to make this are not any of those commonly used in the orient. Most of the chiles are not very hot, but give a deep base to the dish. The heat is provided to taste by a few hotter types, like Jalapeño/Scotch bonnet/Habanero/Cayenne.

A word about the spelling. Chile is correct in Spanish. Chili is correct in English. 

15 Guajillo chilies.
5 Puja Chilies
3 New Mexico Chilies
2 Chipotle Chilies
1 Habanero Chili or substitute 15 g ground cayenne. 
All the chilies above are dried.
About 300 g of each of the following:
Skirt steak, finely cubed, not minced
Chuck steak finely cubed.
Brisket, finely cubed.
5 large onions, diced
15 large cloves of garlic, chopped.
30 g whole cumin, toasted in a dry pan and then ground
15 g oregano (Mexican, if you can get it)
Black pepper straight from the grinder to taste.
Salt to taste.
75 g dark chocolate
Water as necessary.
Cornmeal or masa harina as necessary. 1 can of white hominy (optional)
or red or pinto beans.

If you can't get the chiles, then use 100g Gebhardt's chili powder, but only as a last resort. All the types aren't available everywhere. If using Gebhardt's, go directly to step 2. If not, skip step 2. It works OK with chile powder, but is not quite the same, true chile.
1. Take your chilies and pull off the stem and shake out the seeds. If want a milder chili you can also remove the white veins. Make sure to get all the seeds. Once you have your deseeded chilies you need to boil water equivalent to the volume of chilies and the turn off the heat. 
Make sure that the pot has a lid or when you add the chilies you'll pepper-spray your kitchen with the spicy steam. Add the chilies, and put on the lid. Wait until the pot has cooled to the point where you can touch the sides with your hand. Then puree the whole lot until it's smooth. An immersion blender is good for this. This is your chile paste.
2. Put 100g Gebhardt's in a dry pan, and heat slowly until very slightly toasted, careful not to burn it. Once the aroma comes up, you can take the pan of the heat. Blend this with 100 ml of beef stock or water. 
Next you need to brown your meat. Do this in batches. Add a little salt, pepper and toasted, freshly ground cumin at this point. Don't overdo it you just want to make the meat suck in some flavor but not make it bitter and over spiced. Brown until, well, brown.

At the same time saute the ton of diced onions and garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. If you're going for perfection you could immersion blend this after it's cooked and then add it to the meat. Now add your chili paste and more cumin and maybe black pepper. Taste it. It should be tasting nice but raw and not quite integrated. Add the choclate and mix it in. After it simmers for a while taste it again and correct the seasoning. Usually you will find that it either needs more garlic, heat (add powdered cayenne), cumin or black pepper and salt.

Your chili should have simmered a good while now. Time to add cornmeal or masa flour, add corn meal or  masa a few tablespoons at a time. Let it settle in for ten minutes and then reevaluate and add more if needed. Tip in the hominy or beans if you must.....

You're trying for Hormel consistency here. Too thick?  Add beer or chili water or stock. Too fatty? Add some vinegar. Done. If you don't add the beans directly to the chili, here is a recipe for the proper beans. To be served separately. Also serve grated cheddar and chopped onion in separate bowls.

Drunken Beans. (Frijoles Borrachos)

300 g dried pinto beans, picked over.for stones & debris.
500-600 ml pilsner beer 
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic

2 green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped.
1 small onion roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
a large pinch of freshly ground cumin
a pinch of freshly ground oregano.
30 ml olive oil.
Salt to taste
Vinegar to taste.

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover. Drain and place in a 2-litre saucepan or pressure cooker. Puree the onion and 3 cloves garlic with the beer, and pour over the beans. Don't add salt at this point. Cook over low heat until the beans are soft (depending on how old the beans are the time will vary. Using a pressure-cooker, about 35 minutes, if not, maybe 1 hour. Keep the pot covered, stir regularly  

Saute the sofrito ingredients in the olive oil and add them to the beans, Now add the salt/vinegar to taste, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes more. The consistency should be slightly soupy. Ready.


Keefieboy said...

This looks like it would feed a few dozen people!

Slimseun said...

I figure it feeds about 6, at 300g per serving, with seconds.

Mars said...

wow...that's alot of chilis for a chili :)

i think the version i make ends up having more beans than meat - i rather like my kidney beans.

but this looks pretty yummy - shall give it a whirl.

where can i get gebhardt's?

alexander... said...

That's a hell of a recipe!

I'm not sure where you'd get the chilis for this in a Middle East environment. Spinneys occasionally has fresh jalapenos and habaneros.

I'd be tempted to experiment with dried kashmiri chilis...

(Waits for howl of indignation from Chris...)

Slimseun said...

Alexander, yes, I thought that it might be difficult to get these, not only in a Middle East environment, but almost anywhere except the U.S. It won`t be the same exactly, but the Gebhardt's works quite well. Any supermarket that stocks U.S. stuff should have Gebhardt's Here's a good address for spices www.penzeys.com They have anything you need.

halfmanhalfbeer said...

Wow, that's an aggresive start. Straight in, no messing. It's pots at dawn I can tell you!

Slimseun said...

The picture was revolting, so I changed it. Better now?