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Yet another really good rendition of chili

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Joined: 25 January 2010
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    Posted: 07 March 2019 at 13:32
I made a batch of chili this past weekend that turned out really great; fundamentally, it wasn't too much different from most others, but I want to set it down here, so that I can repeat it.

One of the main things about this is that - due to simple serendipity - I discovered a new "secret ingredient" that really knocked this chili out of the park; more on that, in a bit.

As always, this chili came about because it was a weekend - when I am usually free to cook something - and because it is what The Beautiful Mrs. Tas wanted for supper. We have a "quick and easy" no-bean recipe for weeknight chili that we had been using lately, but I simply wasn't satisfied with it and set out to seeing if I could improve on it in my preparation, rather than just throwing it together. I also thought of a couple of ingredients that could be added that might also help bring it up a notch, from boring to delicious. So, I dropped a couple of things, added a couple of things, and took a look at how it would be prepared; in the end, I did pretty darn well, I'd say.

About this "secret" ingredient: the original recipe includes ground cumin, but we didn't have any in the cupboard; so I started rummaging about looking for an alternative. I spied a container with Brook's "Java Rub" way in the back, which I had made some time ago in a slightly-modified version for a brisket barbecue. I remembered that it had cumin in it as well as some chili powder, so I removed the lid, smelled it, and fell in love all over again with it. I immediately deduced that it would make a great addition, especially in the absence of the required cumin, so I set my sights on using it in the chili. I'll provide the "recipe" for the rub, in a bit.

As for the chili, I won't bore you with the original recipe; rather, I'll just skip to what I came up with, along with some notes on particular ingredients:

Quote Really Good Chili a la Tas

1 pound each ground beef, ground pork and ground turkey*
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, chopped
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Hungarian paprika**
Chili powder, to taste***
Brook's Java Rub; the same amount as chili powder used
2 tablespoons ground cumin****
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano
Double-strength beef stock as needed*****
Two 14-to-15-ish oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies added
Two 14-to-15-ish oz cans diced tomatoes with sautéed onions and roasted garlic added
One 28-to-32-ish oz can tomato sauce

*I honestly think that 2 pounds (total) of any meat combination is probably enough, but 3 pounds worked fine, and made a very hearty chili. The meat can be ground, coarse-ground, in cubes, shredded, diced etc., as you prefer. In general, we use 50/50 pork and beef, but the original recipe called for the addition of turkey, which worked well.

**I forgot this when I made the chili, but it's a great addition and should be a part of the recipe.

***We usually use 2 or 3 "cap-fuls" from the container; perhaps 3 to 4 tablespoons, total).

****The original recipe also has ground cumin, (2 to 3 tablespoons, to taste); but as I said above, I didn't have any, hence the Java Rub. In my opinion, the recipe should still include at least a tablespoon or two of cumin, even if using the Java Rub.

*****I used probably 2 or 3 cups, total.

Here is the recipe for Brook's Java Rub, which I highly recommend using for this chili as well as for barbecuing smoked beef brisket:

Quote Brook's Java Rub (modified for brisket)

6 tablespoons finely ground coffee (I used Gevalia's Traditional Roast - wonderful!)
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sea salt (I had kosher salt, so I used that)
2 tablespoons Turbinado "sugar in the raw," brown sugar or powdered honey
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of your favourite chili powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons black peppercorns*
2 heaping teaspoons coriander seed*
2 heaping teaspoons cumin seed*

*Toasted and ground

Here's what it looks like:

Looks good, doesn't it?

Anyway, let's make some chili!

The method of preparation is pretty standard; I used our enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, and the steps I took were with a mind toward building layers of flavour, adding depth to the final chili. Here is a run-down, by the numbers:

1. Brown the ground meats and drain excess fat.

2. Add some salt and pepper and fry the onions in the meat until they just begin to get some good colour and smell wonderful. Add the garlic and stir everything around for a minute or three, then remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the paprika, chili powder, Java rub (if using), cumin (if using) and oregano. Stir the mixture together for a minute or two - off the heat - allowing the paprika, rub and chili powder to melt into the meat and onions.

3. Add some beef stock to loosen up the mixture, then add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. stir the chili well in order to mix everything together, then add more beef stock, if necessary.

4. Bring the chili to the very beginnings of a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer, stirring the chili every 10 minutes or so and removing the lid after 30 or 45 minutes. From this point, let it simmer as long as possible, adding beef stock if necessary to maintain the desired consistency. We prefer our chili to be pretty thick, almost with a gravy-like consistency. The longer you simmer the chili, the better, as far as I am concerned.

5. When you are ready to serve, test the chili for seasoning and correct if necessary; if you make any corrections, let the chili simmer a few minutes to work the changes in. When it is ready, serve the chili with your choice of garnishes, toppings, chips, rolls or what have you.

Some other notes:

The oregano may or may not seem out of place to some; in my own experience, I have found it to be among the most under-appreciated herbs in Tex-Mex food.

If you cannot find cans of diced tomatoes with the green chilies, onion and garlic, simply used diced tomatoes and go a little heavier on the onion and garlic in the recipe...and add a small can or two of mild diced green chilies or (even better) chipotles, if you would like.

When I first tasted the chili (right after adding the tomatoes in), it seemed as though the green chilies in the tomatoes would be far too hot for The Beautiful Mrs. Tas; however, after simmering, the heat toned way down, working its way beautifully into the rest of the chili as all of the flavours came together and got to know each other. Also, at first, the chili seemed very thin and "pale," for lack of a better word; after about an hour of simmering and stirring, however, the chili became quite rich-looking, darkening and thickening up really nicely, presumably from the paprika, the chili powder and rub, as well as the coffee in the rub.

I served this chili to the family and received immediate praise for it; it turned out very well - better than expected - and I was quite impressed and happy with it. Just some simple time and care in preparation made a lot of difference in my opinion; plus my new "secret" ingredient, which I am convinced took it up a couple of notches.

This recipe made quite a bit of chili, so we were able to have leftovers the next day, served over some smoked sausages and topped with a little cheddar cheese.

This one is worth a try, folks - I didn't know what I was going to end up with when I started, but it sure came out well; in fact, I do believe that I'll add it to my list of "House Chili Recipes."

If you try it, let me know what you think of it...and enjoy!

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