Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Chili

Chili is a glorious universe.  There are so many variations, and I don't begin to claim that I know what the "best" variation is, if such a thing exists.  I've made white chili before, which was delicious and not too heavy.  Today, I opted for red chili.  And while some of the ingredients are similar or even identical, it is a completely different meal.

This is a hearty, soul-warming meal.  It's meaty, it's spicy, it has a deep rustic flavor that only gets better the longer it sits.  Normally I reduce a recipe to make enough for two or three people, but for chili, I went all out and made a big pot.  I know that the leftovers will be even better than the freshly made batch. 

I understand that for some people chili is a personal thing - they have to have it a certain way, with certain adornments absolutely required.  I, however, like the idea of chili as a free-for-all.  It can be a little different every time you make it.  I took some aspects of our friend Mike's chili recipe and added it to the chili recipe in Mad Hungry, a fabulous new cookbook.  The result is magnificent.

Use whatever garnishes you like - I opted for grated cheddar, scallions and avocado.  They rounded out the meal beautifully.

Dried red chilies can be found in the produce section of your supermarket.  Get the medium-large ones - the specific variety doesn't really matter.

Red Chili
adapted from Mad Hungry
serves 6


5 dried red chilies (ancho, Hatch, or Anaheim)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/4 pounds hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
two 14.5 oz. cans no salt added diced tomatoes, with juice
12 ounce bottle of beer (ale works nicely)
one 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
garnishes of your choosing


1.  Break the stems off the dried chilies and remove the seeds.  Place the chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for five minutes to soften.  Place the chilies in a food processor with about 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid and process to a paste.  Set aside.

2.  Heat oil in a large (5 qt. works) Dutch oven or soup pot, or a very large skillet, over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt.  Add the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Brown the meat, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until cooked.   If there is a lot of grease in the pan, spoon some of it out, but make sure you leave some for flavor.

3.  Stir in cumin and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the chili paste you made in step one, red pepper flakes, oregano, bay leaf, and another pinch of salt.  

4.  Add tomatoes and beer and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat slightly and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and cook for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste, and serve.


1 comment:

  1. Warm and wonderful - perfect supper for a cold evening at home. Who needs restaurants?