The summer is coming to a close, vacations are over and it is now game time! I may not know every player’s name, who won last week, or the ridiculous stats of how many touchdowns the combined Manning brothers have, but I do know one thing… It is time to start cooking chili, and the odds are that a big pot will be stewing alongside beers and friends on any given Sunday at my place.
I can already visualize what the shopping cart looks like, colorful peppers, large quantities of meat along with all of the toppings. I’ve been making this chili for so long that I don’t even open up my notes anymore; practice and good ingredients makes perfect. If you have been to my place to watch football, you have probably had my chili.
So next time you are having people over to watch Da Bears, Eagles or COLTS, start an hour early and get this together. I guarantee it will be gone by the end of the game, and if not, make chili dogs the next day. On second thought, hide some to make chili dogs anyway…
Shopping list for 1 gallon of chili (about 4 people). 1 Lb Ground beef 80/20 (or if you have a meat grinder coarsely grind 1 lb of sirloin) 1 Lb Hot breakfast sausage, Tennessee Pride or Jimmy Dean's works great 1 large yellow onion diced 1 of each: green, yellow and red pepper seeded and diced 1 entire small bottle of green Tabasco, the green is milder than the others, NO substitutions 4-5 cloves garlic minced 1 28 oz can of whole/peeled tomatoes, if you can find San Marzanos, use them 2 16 oz cans of dark red kidney beans drained 1 square of "Bakers" brand UNSWEETENED chocolate, once again, NO substitutions Salt/Pepper 1 Tbl. Good chili powder (go to penzeys.com) blog post on spices coming soon.. 2 tsp. cumin 1-11/2 tsp. ground cayenne, depending on how hot you like it 1-3 mystery ingredients no one will ever know (sorry) Toppings: Raw diced onion, shredded cheddar, sour cream, pasta, etc.
In a large stock pot brown the beef and sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spatula as it cooks (add a little vegetable oil if it is sticking real bad). In the meantime, dice all of your peppers and onion and throw them in the pot as you go. Once meat is browned and the veggies have softened, drain off any excess grease using a colander (do not rinse). Return to pot over medium heat and stir in minced garlic. Once you can smell the garlic add in the Tabasco, tomatoes (juice and all) and the drained beans. Smash the whole tomatoes with your spatula to get that good juice and pulp out and to get everything else all mixed together. Increase heat to a boil for 5 minutes, bury the square of chocolate in the middle, reduce heat to medium-low and put a lid on it. Ignore for 20 minutes and have a beer.
Remove lid, stir everything up and distribute the now melted chocolate. Add all of the spices listed except salt and pepper. Adjust heat if needed to maintain a slow simmer. Put the lid back on, have another beer and get your toppings ready (chop onion, grate cheese, etc.) another 20 minutes.
Remove lid, stir it up and add pepper to suit your heat level. Salt to taste since depending on the sausage you buy and the tomatoes you use it can be different every time however, 2 teaspoons is usually a good starting point.
By this point, you should be almost full from trying the chili every 5 minutes, not to mention the buzz from the beers. Just put out the bowls along with the condiments, leave the pot on the stove over low heat all day long, and let people make their own bowls as they wish.