Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Embarrass Your Chili Pot by Chucking in Tomatoes

Cold. Rain, Wind. 

One hundred year old house with minimal insulation.

Arizona transplant must get warm.

Solution: chili con carne with homemade tortillas.

For flour tortillas:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder isn't ancient)
2 tablespoons lard (yes, lard)
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup water

Rub the lard and butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it looks all crumbly. Add the water and  mix up until you have a ball of dough. Let this hang out for ten minutes while you heat up a very lightly oiled-rubbed smallish pan over medium heat (cast iron is good if you have it).

Tear off pieces of the dough, however big you want, and roll them out as thin as you can. Cook them by laying them one at a time in the hot pan for about thirty seconds to one minute on each side. You only want a few tiny flecks of golden brown on them, you don't want them to get crispy (or do you?).

 For the chili:

2 pounds of either ground beef or finely chopped beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup of your favorite hot chili powder, I like Grandma's hot chili, but sadly it's been discontinued
4 dried Gaujillo chiles (in the Mexican spice section at the grocery store) ground fine (I use an old coffee grinder)
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon good cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey, or agave syrup, or brown sugar
Enough water, stock or beer to cover the meat

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil and bacon to medium high, then add the meat along with all of the  spices and chopped veggies and brown it all well. Cover with liquid and bring up to a bubble. Simmer covered for at least an hour. If you have time, I really recommend adding a few cups more liquid and cooking for two or three hours, or throwing it in your crock pot on low all day.

Serve with a lot of grated sharp cheddar cheese or queso fresco, this helps "cool" the chili, it's pretty spicy. I recommend wrapping your tortillas in foil and warming them up before serving- or you can get all fancy-schmancy and toast them in a pan with butter.

I would serve a crisp cold lager with this, or a very cold bottle of Coca-Cola.

p.s. Tomatoes aren't terrible in chili or anything. The chili police aren't going to arrest you. If you wanted to take the leftovers and mix them with a can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce and more beer and a pinch of cinnamon and serve it over rice, well then go right ahead and Godspeed.