Managed Heat – Building a Chili for Wine

Habanero_chile_-_flower_with_fruit_(aka)At the time that I’m starting this post, I have fed three pounds of brisket into my grinder, finely minced two and half pounds of flap meat by hand, have begun chopping vegetables, and am soaking sun-dried tomatoes (both dried and oil-packed because of different flavor profiles) in beer. Pacifico, to be exact.

There’s a Vegas Wineaux Wine Club tasting tomorrow night at Don and Mark’s and we’re having a Chili Challenge! So OF COURSE in my usual OCD fashion, I’ve gone nuts.

The recipe for basic chili is pretty simple: Meat, beans, celery, onions, peppers, garlic, tomato of some sort, seasonings such as cumin and chili powder, and salt and pepper. That’s a good, easy-to-make chili, but it’s not “Challenge” chili. It’s sitting-in-front-of-the-TV-with-a-beer chili.

I’ve made a change. Or two. Or, possibly, more.

First of all, I’ve dumped the beans. While my initial thought was to call this “Vegetarian’s Nightmare” chili in respect to the Halloween season, I opted against it. Instead, I’ve gone into full Food Network Challenge mode. Like I said. I’ve gone nuts.

So there are no beans. There are two types of beef: very coarsely ground brisket and hand-minced flap meat that I picked up at my favorite local Mexican market. Over five pounds worth in total. My veggies are a little different as well. I believe that some foods – despite their humble beginnings – can be brought up to gourmet levels. Chili is one of them. Like a chameleon, it can be very simple or offer layers of stunning flavor. I’m hoping mine will do the trick for the latter.

While people vary in what types of meat they put in their chili, I prefer to use beef only. Let’s call this a Texas meets California chic via Mexico chili. Even though chili isn’t really Mexican.

Whatever.

No pork, no chicken, no turkey. There are four types of onions: white, yellow, red, and leeks. An entire bulb of garlic (which will sweeten the chili as it slowly simmers) completes the Allium aromatics.

The peppers are three colors of bell, Anaheim, Pasillo, Jalapeno, dried chili powders, and fresh Habanero. The bell, Anaheim, Jalapeno, and Pasillo are fire-roasted (under the broiler), but the Habanero is fresh. I have a method that removes a lot of the overwhelming heat, leaving just enough to tickle the tongue but release the sweetness of the pepper. Thanks to Rod the Wineaux Guy for that little treasure. That’s where the title of this post comes from. I like a little heat, but not so much to cause pain. That is not, as Alton Brown would say, good eats. The heat has to be measured, because the flavors of the peppers and chilies are the key component of this dish.

Several stalks of finely minced celery and three carrots that have been put into the food processor are also part of the mix.

After soaking in beer overnight, the sun-dried tomatoes will be added to the pot along with masa harina and more beer!

Of course there are other ingredients. Spices, salts, ground pepper, etc., will all come together to give an ordinary, rustic dish a little polish and sophistication. And, I hope, Challenge-worthy accolades.

And now, the wine. I was pretty set on bringing a bottle of Syrah/Shiraz or possibly Zin, but I’m having second thoughts. People in Latin America, specifically Argentina, eat hot food and drink wine. So I’m considering getting a bottle of Malbec to go with the chili. I will have a better idea tomorrow after it’s had some time to sit and flavor-meld (kind of like Mind Meld by Spock, only with food).

I’ll let y’all know Sunday how this all turns out.

Stay tuned for the results!

Oh! I almost forgot one of my favorite sayings:

If You Know Beans About Chili, You Know That Chili Has No Beans.

Amen!

*************

Here’s the followup to the recipe challenge.

I had the only all-beef, no bean chili. And they were all flavorful and delicious.

Dammit.

History of Chili (whatscookingamerica.net)

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