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"Adventures in Chili"

Black Beer Chili

I love a good dark beer, and Guiness is about as dark as it gets. In the 1920’s, it was actually advertised as a healthy beverage.

guiness healthy

This wouldn’t work today of course but as far as alcoholic beverages go, it is one of the healthier ones. Here is an article arguing the health values even today. I have had a licensed medical professional tell me that you could survive off Guiness and oranges because the only essential nutrient missing is vitamin C. Anyone willing to try that please let me know how it goes.

Today’s chili will be a very basic, simple recipe. We are just adding black beer. Any dark beer would work, but Guiness is the best. Be sure to use stout and not draught.

Brown the meat with the chopped onions and garlic. Add salt, pepper, cumin, and dark brown sugar to taste. Be sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding them. Also, drain all fat from the browned meat. This is a thick chili and the beer will add all the moisture you need. Add the beans with the fire-roasted tomatoes.

To finish this recipe off, add one 12-oz. bottle of beer and just let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.

finished product guiness

As a side note, if you’re worried about feeding this to pregnant women and children, don’t. The alcohol burns off in the cooking process. There you go..simple and tasty. Top with cheddar and sour cream if you want. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it.

 

Ingredients

2 lb. Lean ground beef

1 whole chopped onion

3 oz. minced garlic

1 can dark red kidney beans

1 can black beans

2 cans fire roasted tomatoes

dark brown sugar to taste

salt and pepper to taste

cumin to taste

1 bottle of black beer

cheddar and sour cream topping (optional)

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Chili Thai… I mean Thai Chili…

peppertriumph

It’s time to try something very new and unexplored for me. I have been researching lately about what meals people will try based on their diets. People on certain diets must accomplish incredible feats just to find a meal that they like and that is allowed.

This led me to several Paleo diet websites such as this one. The Paleo diet has become popular over the past few years so I thought I would try for a recipe that stayed within their limits. If you don’t know the diet well, it isn’t complicated, but basically sugars and dairies are on the naughty list. Every chili I have made in this blog so far has been loaded with sugar or dairy, but I found just the recipe.

 

I made a Thai inspired chili. If the title is a little confusing, in my town we have a small chain restaurant called Chili Thai. Some common ingredients in Thai food are curry and coconut milk. Now let’s get cooking.

First, as usual, brown the ground beef in a pot and add the cumin, salt, and pepper. Once all the pink is gone, add the curry paste and chicken stock. Let that simmer while you chop up your bell peppers and zucchini. There is some debate in the Paleo world on potatoes. Some say yes some say no, but it is generally agreed that sweet potatoes are acceptable, so let’s add one. Chop it up into small cubes so it won’t take too long to soften.

simmering

Throw it all in the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. While it simmers, finely chop up the Cilantro on the side and cut the lime into wedges. These are toppings. Personally, I hate cilantro, it tastes like soap and many agree with me. Check it out. Either way, it will make the dish truly Thai.

The final product was pretty tasty. If you try it, let me know what you think.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. 80/20 mix ground beef (grass-fed if you want to follow Paleo standards)

1 cup chicken stock

1 sweet potato

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 zucchini

1 can coconut milk

8 oz. tomato sauce

cilantro and lime

4 oz. red curry paste (found in international food sections)

cumin to taste

salt and pepper to taste

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Chicken…in a chili?

chicken triumph

A fellow chili connoisseur I know recently shared a recipe with me for a white chicken chili. I have tried similar chicken recipes before and have never had much success. I was a bit timid to attempt this, but after hearing the passionate way she described the final product, I had to give it a go.

I have done my best to follow the recipe she gave me, but I have varied a little towards my style of cooking. For example, instead of green chilies, I used spinach and I used chicken stock instead of chicken broth because that is what I had in my pantry.

The main difference in the preparation of my chili is instead of Sautéing the chicken and cutting it into cubes, I slow cooked it in a crock pot to make it tender and “shredded.” The entire dish was made in the crock pot so it was nice to only dirty one dish.

The ingredient list was a little bit longer than my usual chili, but in the end, it was worth it.

ingredients

Slow cook the chicken breasts and add spices in the chicken stock with the Canola oil. I let my chicken cook for about 4 hours in the crock pot. When it was ready I put the chicken in a Ziplock bag to “tenderize” it.

Next, I added the beans and the heavy cream and lowered the heat. The last touch was the sour cream. My best advice with this recipe is to go heavy on the pepper, garlic, and sour cream.

This dish was amazing. I will be making it again in the near future. It is the definition of a non-traditional chili, and I loved it.

Ingredients

2 Chicken breasts

Garlic salt

Canola oil

1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

16 oz. chicken stock (or broth)

8 oz. chopped fresh spinach

Cumin

Oregano

Black pepper

Cayenne pepper

8 oz. sour cream

16 oz. Heavy cream

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“Chili Mac”

grimeschilimac

This is a quote from zombie-killing badass Rick Grimes. If you are a fan of “The Walking Dead”, you may have recently been introduced to Chili Mac. This article was inspired by the seventh season of the show. In episode 12,”Say Yes”, the hero of the series introduces a new food to his girlfriend. It comes in the form of an MRE. To non-military folk this stands for meals ready to eat.

noodles

In their search for food and supplies they stumble on a cache of MREs. When I watched this episode it reminded me of my time in the Army. Every time we were served chili mac in basic training, they would make us exercise until the ground was covered in pasta.

I hope to create a better chili mac than the US Army can produce. It shouldn’t be hard.

I started with the basics. I chopped a sweet Vidalia onion and added half a pound of 80/20 beef. I added the necessary spices along with the diced tomatoes and Rotel. In a separate pan, I boiled 3 oz. of pasta and added 6 oz. of Velveeta cheese and 5 oz. of cream cheese.

 

Now it was time to bring it together.

Once it is combined, it is ready to eat and better than anything you will ever get in a military mess hall.

I have mixed feelings about Velveeta cheese. When I look at it, I always think to myself – this is not food. Eventually it melts down and it makes the dish magical. Enjoy this pseudo-chili if you try it.

 

Ingredients

1/2 pound 80/20 mix ground beef

1 small Vidalia sweet onion chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can Rotel

dash of salt

dash of pepper

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

3 oz. elbow noodles

6 oz. Velveeta “cheese”

5 oz. cream cheese

Shredded cheddar as needed for topping

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The Devil went down to Georgia

And he wanted something to eat. Do not make this chili unless you like burning your face off.

gaffigan

That quote is by one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan. This sums up my beliefs about spicy food. I like spicy food, as long as it is not too spicy. My heat level is right around Texas Pete.

peppers

Before I get into the recipe, let’s talk Scoville units. The Scoville scale of heat is a study devised by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. He developed the Scoville Organoleptic test. I won’t get into the science of it as it can be rather boring, but it basically tests what each pepper does when it comes in contact with the tongue and mouth.

A Jalepeño, which is a common mild pepper enjoyed by many,has a rating of around 10,000 units at the most. The most powerful pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper. It boasts a Scoville unit measure of 2,200,000. Check out that list at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/245586985907213760/

Now to the chili. I started off normally with a sweet Vidalia onion. I knew not many would try this chili so I made a small batch portion. I used just half a pound of 80/20 beef and half of an onion to start. The heat came next.

Here are the flavor offenders.

spices

The main ingredient today was the Habanero pepper. It tops out at around 300,000 Scoville units which is far beyond my comfort level. I chopped up 8 of them with 4 Jalapeños. Add some Cayenne pepper ( 40,000 units) and crushed red pepper.

chopped

The simmer begins as all those flavors mix. The biggest problem I had during the cooking process was after handling all those peppers, even after washing my hands several times, any part of my body that I touched was burning. My recently clipped fingernails, my lips, my eyes, and even my ears were on fire.

After the meat had browned, I added the “Aldi” brand Rotel and kidney beans. Next came the chipotle peppers. Chipotle is just a term that means the pepper was smoked before it became hotter than the surface of the sun. The chili smelled fantastic. Habanero is naturally very sweet, but it attacks you with heat when you consume it.

My taste test proved that I could not eat this chili. Maybe there are people out there who can. My own daughter is from India and is used to every meal being spicy and she could not eat more than one bite. This is truly a meal made for the devil himself.

 

Ingredients:

80/20 ground beef

1/2 chopped Vidalia onion

8 Habanero peppers

4 Jalapeño peppers

Garlic salt to taste

Dash of Cayenne pepper powder

Dash of crushed red pepper

1 can Rotel

1 can drained Kidney beans

1 can Chipotle peppers

 

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Sweet Heat Chili with Mango and Pear

 

 

 

My favorite chili recipes have preparation methods and ingredients that would deeply offend many traditional cooks. Whenever I am at a chili cook-off, I meet two types of people. One will love what they have tasted and ask for the recipe. The other says something along the lines of “there is too much going on in there.”

 

The easiest way to win a chili cook-off is to have something different. Every time I enter a pot into one, I see 30 other brown soupy clones which are most likely recipes taken from the Internet. After the judges taste several similar bowls, they sample mine and it is an easy choice.

 

beef

 

Let’s go through my most recent variation of chili. My first crime against the cooking world is I never measure ingredients. This may make it hard for someone to recreate. In truth I don’t know if I could completely recreate some recipes of my own. Just taste as you go and build something that you like.

 

In this recipe, I always start with an 80/20 mix of lean and fat ground beef. Today I am using 1.5 lbs. Another thing I do in this recipe is I will not drain all of the fat. I will explain why in a moment. The first step is to chop up a whole Vidalia sweet onion. Chop the pieces whatever size you like. I prefer about 1/8 inch in size. Do not use any oil. Let the beef provide that. The onion will be on the bottom of your skillet. Bring up to heat and throw the beef on top. This is the moment your first few ingredients start to bond.

 

chili-cooking

 

Now let’s start adding spices. I love a sweet chili. Throw in the brown sugar. Make it as sweet as you want. Add garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Again, use your own taste buds and add as much as your mouth can handle. It is important to have the spices on the meat when it is raw so it will fuse more thoroughly. It was also get into the onions.

 

As the meat starts to brown, be sure to chop it up as finely as you can. If you leave larger chunks of beef, it will be harder for spices to penetrate through.

 

Once the meat is browned, strain out half of the grease and keep it aside. Too much grease will make people sick but just the right amount makes it all the better. The main reason to keep it as I mentioned earlier is all of the spices and flavors are in this glorious liquid. Throw in one can of chopped tomatoes and two cans of Rotel. The Rotel reminds us that this is still chili. If your mix is too thick at this point, add more Rotel, water, or the leftover grease.

 

mango-pear

 

Simmer chopped mango and pears to soften in a separate pot. Add them and your favorite bean to the mix. I chose chickpeas.

 

At this point, set it to low and let all the flavors absorb until you are ready to serve. I hope you enjoy this dish.

 

Ingredients

80/20 mix ground beef

1 large sweet Vidalia onion

1 can diced tomato

2 cans Rotel

1 can chickpeas

1 chopped mango

1 chopped pear

Brown sugar

Garlic salt

Crushed red pepper

 

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