Smokey Chili

March 3, 2010

So in my house chili is a big thing. For some reason everyone in my damn house makes chili at least once a week. Which is a pain case one of my housemates makes something like a gallon or two of the stuff every time he makes it, which takes up like half the fridge. Anyway, I decided to enter the race. So here’s my chili which, if I do say so myself, is better than all of theirs, but hey, I’m a little biased.

Ingredients
1 lb chopped meat (I used 90% lean chopped beef, feel free to be creative)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 can red beans
1 can Red Kidney beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Poblano peppers, Char grilled
2 Dried Ancho chili peppers
2-3 Chipotle peppers (either dried or canned, I used Chipotles in adobo sauce)
Cumin, Chili Powder, and salt to taste

Before you start anything else, boil some water, pour it into a bowl, and submerge the two dried Ancho cilies (and the chipotles, if you’re using them). They need to be reconstituted.

Char Grilled Peppers
Now lets start with the Poblano peppers. Char grilling vegetables is a process by which you essentially burn the outside of a vegetable which infuses the inside with a smokey, charred taste. It is used to make some kinds of Baba Ganoush (at least the one I make). There are a few ways to do it.

If you are not afraid to get your stove top a little dirty, you can simply hold the vegetable (in this case the poblano peppers) over the flame with a pair of tongs  till the outside is bunt to a crisp.

However, to get a little extra grill taste into it, I like to use my charcoal chimney with either charcoal or wood chunks. In this recipe I used mesquite wood chunks (which you can buy at most stores that sell grills, like Home Depot or Lowes).

Spray some oil (pam works) on a few sheets of newspaper, stuff them under the chimney, put a decent layer of coal or wood in the top and light that sucker up. Give the wood a few min. to really get flaming. Grab a grate from a bbq if you have it or if not, you can skewer through the peppers and just put them over the top. And if not that, then just put them straight in the fire. Either way, you want the flames to really engulf the peppers.

Let them roast for a few minutes on all sides to the skin is completely charred and black. Bring your peppers back to the kitchen and scrape off the burnt skin (carbon is not very tasty). I found it easier to slice open one side of the pepper, remove the stem and , and lay the pepper down flat with the burnt side up. Then use a knife to just scrape off the burnt bits. Once this is done, scrape away any remaining seeds from the inside, slice the peppers up into small quarter-sized pieces, and set aside.

The Chili
By this time (hopefully 20-3o min), your dried peppers should be nice and tender. Dispose of  half of the liquid, which should have a dark brownish color by this point. Remove the stems and dump out the seeds. Throw the peppers and the remaining liquid into a blender. If there are seeds in the liquid, strain them out. If you are using the canned Chipotle peppers, take out 2 or 3, depending on how hot you want the chili to be, using a fork and knife, slice open the chili and try to scrape out as much of the seeds as possible. (If you want really spicy chili, you can skip this part.) Throw the chilies into the blender with the Anchos. Blend to a liquid-y paste.

In a large pot, heat up some oil and throw in the onions and garlic. Saute a bit till they become tender. Then throw in the chopped meat and sprinkle with a bit of cumin. Saute this till the meat becomes slightly brown, but not necessarily cooked all the way through.

Now proceed to dump in everything else. The 2 cans of beans, the chili pepper slurry, can of crushed tomatoes, and the Char grilled Poblano pepper pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer. After a half hour or so, taste and a salt, cumin, and chili powder to taste. I added very little cumin after adding it to the meat. Depending on the kinds of beans you use, whether they are in salt or not, you may not even need more. As for the chili powder, it is essentially a mix of dried chili peppers, which is what you already put in the chili, so it may not need too much of this. Again though, it is up to you and your taste preferences.

Let this simmer away for a good hour or so. Or at least until the flavors all come together. The longer you let it sit, the more the flavors will have a chance to meld and the more tender the meat and beans will be.

If you like spicier chili, add more Chipotles or even some chopped fresh Jalapeno  peppers (although chipotles are Jalapenos, just smoked and dried).

Serve with cornbread or over rice or by itself. Enjoy!

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