Saturday, January 29, 2011

"What the hell, Cleveland?"-Style Chili

Welcome back to Balls and Pie after our Holidays/January-sort-of-sucks hiatus. What can I say? January sort of sucked.

"Lake Effect Saab"

So, Cleveland. What the hell? This happening to my car between lunch and 3 PM is not cool. Yeah. 10 inches of snow overall in 6 hours. Don't bother looking in the National Weather Service archives for records, because according their official station at the airport, it didn't snow in Cleveland that day. True Story.

Fortunately, I had my go-to remedy for this weather non-event: Good, simple Chili. Despite today's title, there's actually nothing special about it. And besides, as you should well as know, the best chili in these parts comes from elsewhere in the Buckeye State.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe I've adapated from what Mom taught me years back. For those of you keeping track, it's from the "Hot, Brown, and lots of it" school of cooking.

You'll need:

1 lb ground meat (I like 50/50 beef/turkey, but anything besides turkey breast is fine).
1 diced tomato (canned is fine)
1 onion
1 can Kidney Beans
Assorted chili peppers (I used serrano, poblano, chipotle in adobo and habenero)
Oil (olive, canola, vegetable, whatever you like)
Pepper (black, cayenne)

So, start by heating up oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Meanwhile, chop your onion, fairly coarsely. Begin sautéing the onion with a pinch of salt; after a couple minutes add in some garlic. You're going for just barely brown; don't overdo it. I like to add a little black pepper here as well; cayenne is great, too.

While this is going on, you can also start working on the peppers. I took a handful of serranos, most of 1 poblano, some chipotles with a light coat of adobe, and 1 habenero for some kick, and chopped them together with the food processing attachment to my kitchen wand. It looked brown, and smelled spicy, which is a pretty good starting point for chili. The adobo (if anybody knows where I can find real, dry chipotle in Cleveland, let me know) held everything together nicely, but be careful to keep it at a minimum, or you will lose all the other flavors in it.

At this point, you should be set to mix the blended pepper mix in with the onions, and stir over heat about 5 more minutes to start letting those flavors out. Next, add in your ground meat, and brown thoroughly. Make sure and break up any clumps. Mix in your tomato and beans, and simmer until it tastes good. I like to go at least a couple hours for the best flavor, but you should be safe after 30 min or so. Also, don't be shy about experimenting with your favorite seasonings or chili powders.

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