Sunday, May 18, 2008
Don't Mess with the Original
I learned a valuable lesson this weekend - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I have made chili several times using a 2 alarm chili kit and it is delicious. I saw a recipe in a cooking magazine that I bought at the airport and decided that I wanted to give it a try. The article accompanying the recipe said that the recipe used pure chili powders that gave the chili a heartier flavor than if you used "old-fashioned chili mix". That sentence sold me. If I could make a chili with more flavor than my 2 alarm chili mix chili it had to be delicious. I quickly realized that this recipe had several differences, the main one being that it didn't call for ground beef. The meat it required was boneless beef chuck cut into cubes, it sounded strange but I was willing to give it a try. It also called for beer and not just any beer but my favorite, Dos Equis Amber. I have seen chili recipes made with beer but hadn't ever tried it myself so I was excited about this aspect of the recipe. From the very beginning of cooking it, I wasn't too fired up about this dish. Nothing about it looked like, smelled like or tasted like chili. The recipe needed to be cooked low and slow and after three hours I was really hoping that it would be delicious, but the chunks of beef resembled Alpo too closely to make my mouth water at all. In the end it really wasn't that good (Forrest liked it but he likes everything) and it didn't come anywhere close to the chili mix kit recipe. But just in case (for some odd reason) this paragraph sold you, I have included the recipe below......
Texas Beef Chili with Poblanos & Beer
Recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine
3 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
2 large sweet onions, diced (about 4 cups)
2 large fresh poblano peppers (or green bell peppers), stemmed, seeded, and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
4-1/2 lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks, 3 to 4 inches long
3 Tbs. New Mexico chile powder (or 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder)
1 Tbs. chipotle chile powder
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cloves (I omitted this from the recipe)
12-oz. bottle amber ale, such as Shiner Bock (made in Shiner, Texas), Dos Equis Amber, or Anchor Steam Liberty Ale
1-1/2 qt. homemade or low-salt beef broth
In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, translucent, and starting to brown, 8 to 10 min. Add the poblanos, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the poblanos soften, another 8 to 10 min. If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Add the garlic and 1 tsp. salt and sauté for another 5 min. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil in an 8-quart or larger Dutch oven (preferably enameled cast iron) over medium-high heat. Sear the beef cubes until browned and crusty on two sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the browned beef to a bowl. During searing, it’s fine if the pan bottom gets quite dark, but if it smells like it’s burning, reduce the heat a bit. If the pan ever gets dry, add a little more oil.
Once all the beef is seared and set aside, add the onions and peppers to the pan, along with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, chile powders, cumin, and cloves and cook, stirring, until the spices coat the vegetables and are fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly add the beer while scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve the coating of spices. Simmer until the beer is reduced by about half and the mixture has thickened slightly, 5 to 7 min. Add the beef, along with any accumulated juices, and the beef broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Test a cube of meat—you should be able to cut it with a spoon. Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.If not serving immediately, chill overnight. The next day, skim any fat from the top, if necessary, before reheating.
To serve, heat the chili gently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the beef cubes to a plate. Shred the meat with a fork and return it to pot. (The shredded meat will help create a thicker texture.) Taste and add more salt if needed. Heat the beans in a medium bowl covered with plastic in the microwave (or heat them gently in a saucepan). Arrange the beans, chopped red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream in small bowls to serve as garnishes with the chili.