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Thursday, October 04, 2007
I have been fairly reluctant to share this recipe, if only because people, in general are fairly secretive with their chili recipes (as well as cookie, lasagna and other common recipes). I've also thought about entering this recipe in some sort of contest, because it's been fine-tuned and is actually very good. So, beware--if I find out you've used my recipe for personal gain, the chili monster will come and find you! Yes, that's a joke, but I'm kinda serious.

The trick to this chili is really the fresh ingredients. P-shaw on the canned tomatoes, although in the winter they are a fair substitute. Hot peppers are best from a garden, not a grocery store. If any of my recipes needed to be made locally, this is it. It makes a significant difference. This is also better the next day--so if you're trying to wow a crowd, make this the night before and let it sit. The flavors really punch up and intensify.

Ingredients (bear with me, this list is long)

*3 sweet onions, diced
*6 medium to large tomatoes
Olive oil
*Fresh cilantro
*4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Goya Recaito
2 packs of Goya Sazon
*1.5 pounds of ground beef
2 cups of dry pink beans, soaked overnight in water
1 can of enchilada sauce
Red pepper flake
1/2 can of tomato paste
Black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Goya Adobo
Ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
Frank's Red Hot
1/2 light colored beer (Corona, Bud Light and Coors Light have all been used)
1 hot pepper

1. Boil a pot of water. Score the tomatoes, then drop them in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, until you see the peels start to come up. Drain in a strainer and run cool water on them. They're really hot at this point, so let them cool while you do the next steps.
2. In a large pot, drop a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions. Let them get nice and brown and soft. This could take up to 15 minutes. Be patient with them! You want them to almost melt in the chili.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of Goya Recaito, about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and the garlic. Stir.
4. Add the ground beef and let it get nice and browned up, sprinkling Adobo on it and chopping it up with your spatula so you don't get huge hunks.
5. Okay, now that the tomatoes have had a few minutes to cool down, cube them up and add them (I have seriously hurt my hands by chopping them hot, so be warned). Stir.
6. Add the beans. You could use two cans of pink beans instead, but the soaked dry beans made a different the last time I made this. I use pink beans because those are the beans I grew up with in a Puerto Rican household--plus, red kidney beans are way too huge and pinto beans don't have quite the same texture and consistency I look for. Pour in the can of enchilada sauce (about a cup or so). Choose the desired heat on this: mild, medium or hot. I prefer to control the heat with other ingredients, so I use a mild version.
7. Now, time to spice it up! Add the Sazon packets (disclaimer: these do contain MSG, so I'm working on replacing this in my cooking with ground annatto and coriander, but can't seem to find them, so if you can, use that instead). Add a good sprinkling of black pepper, red pepper flake to taste, dash of Worcestershire sauce, a generous amount of paprika, a good teaspoon or two of ground cumin and chili powder, the bay leaf (or leaves), three good shakes of Frank's Red Hot and the 1/2 can of tomato paste. Stir.
8. Taste it! Make sure the flavors meld. Need more smokiness? Add more cumin. Need more heat? Add more red pepper flake or Frank's Red Hot (or my new favorite, white pepper). Too thick? Add a little beef stock. Let this simmer for a good half hour, until it's reduced a bit.
9. It's beer time! Pour in half a bottled beer (yellow, lighter beers are best) slowly, because it does fizz up. Stir. It will stink to high heaven, but it will make it taste good. Trust me. Add the hot pepper you have, pricking it first (the type you use--or whether you use it at all--will vary depending on the amount of heat you want).
10. Let it be. Seriously. Add some beef stock if it gets too thick. It's best served the next day, really, but I'd be crazy to say that always happens in my house. Chili brings people from everywhere in the complex, straight to the door.

*Local ingredient

My variations: Sometimes I don't have enchilada sauce, so I don't use it. Sometimes I have fresh bell pepper around, so I'll add them in Step 3, diced medium. Variate to your hearts content. The key factors I look for in chili is one that will hit your tongue in a few places--a little sweet, some hot and a good base. Smokiness is nice, too.
posted by Rose @ 6:27 AM  
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