[99] Blue Ribbon Chili

Cover of Virginia Bed and Breakfast Cookbook by Melissa Craven

I have to be very honest, folks. The last few recipes have been all about rectifying mistakes in the pursuit of making someone happier. (They’re all pretty happy with me to begin with.) The “apple butter”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/185-90-Grandma-Ls-Apple-Butter.html was because I owed someone some apple butter, the “broccoli noodles”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/195-98-Broccoli-Noodles-with-Garlic-and-Soy.html were made so Jen could see a recipe associated with a cookbook we had documented without using, and this chili came about because Bill looked at me and said, “We haven’t made chili all season, have we?”

No, we hadn’t. Which is weird, because I have a killer chili recipe I shared with him years ago, and usually make it at least twice in a season. Twice being all I need to make it because it makes more chili than you can shake a stick at, and there’s just one of me. Or two of us, now that we live together.

So, I thought about it, and here’s probably the moment that having MetaCookbook.com and, more specifically, the challenge associated with it most changed what I’d do. Instead of whipping up that killer chili, I went poking around my cookbooks. Specifically this cookbook, because I was pretty sure I remembered a chili recipe in here.

I’m glad I did, because it’s a very different animal from what I would have made otherwise. Many more spices and flavors, but no more work. It was interesting. It also got me, once again, looking into recipes with the word “sausage” in them. Generally, that’s an off-putting word to me. I have only slowly begun to reconsider the notion that “sausage” = “bad”. This recipe is a step in my recovery process.

It was also made the same day that I made the broccoli noodles, because it has to sit for 24 – 48 h before serving. Hence all the pots on the stove in this shot (which, incidentally, is also in both photo sets on flickr).h2. Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef, buffalo or venison
1/2 lb hot link sausage, sliced

1/2 lb mild link sausage, sliced

1 tbsp butter or oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder (Sub our NM red chili powder, ~ 2 tsp)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground allspice (I presume ground, anyway.)

2 14 oz cans tomatoes

2 14 oz cans kidney beans (I had, and used black beans.)

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate (That was a pain to chop off the slab.)

1 bay leaf

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1 12 oz can condensed beef broth (or 12 oz beef broth from “better than bullion”)

Grated cheddar cheese & sour cream to serve

h2. Instructions

In a large, heavy dutch oven over medium heat, brown beef & sausage, then set aside in a colander to drain fat. Add butter or oil (or use 1 tbsp fat from the meat), onion & green bell pepper to the dutch oven; cook until onion is translucent. Return meat to the pan, add the remaining ingredients (except cheese & sour cream), stirring well to combine. Bring this to a boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for several hours. Remove bay leaf and refrigerate for 24 – 48 h before serving. Serve with cheese & sour cream.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

Do not be daunted by that ingredient list! There are a lot of things that go in this, but the cooking is overall simple.

As I mentioned in the intro to this recipe, I don’t really like sausage. Or so I thought. It’s beginning to look like what I actualy don’t like is “breakfast sausage”. The spice mix in that stuff really makes me ill. So, I was wary of this recipe until I saw bratwurst and andouille sausages at Whole Foods when I went shopping. While I’d never been a bratwurst fan before, I’d had some at “Franks’n’Dawgs“:http://www.franksndawgs.com/ with Bill the other day that was quite good, so I was willing to give it a shot!

The sausages I used were advertised as “raw”. As you can imagine, I have a very checkered history with sausage, and so don’t know much about it. Thus, I don’t know if sausages are generally cooked in some way before being sold or not. This further leads to me to have no idea if it’s typically impossible to cut raw sausage into slices or not. What I DO know is that THIS sausage was impossible to slice. So I cut off the casing and cooked it like spiced ground meat.

I really liked the texture of that, and I think it’s a good way to go. There’s something nice about chunks or slices of meat in a dish, but I don’t think it’d be a good texture when the surrounding mass is also meat. So, my friend Rob’s quinoa jambalaya? Sliced sausages are good. Chili based on ground beef? Sliced sausages are not so good. In fact, even though I have never had chunks of meat surrounded by ground meat, I’m going to go on a limb here and decree that it would be actively no good. Forget, “I don’t think…” Replace that part of the sentence with, “but it would be texturally weird when the surrounding mass is also meat.”

So there.

Beyond that decree, you can do this. You know how to chop veggies, and you know how to brown ground meat. You can drain it however you want (I didn’t use a colander, but a paper-towel lined plate). If you don’t have a kitchen scale (or, like mine, yours doesn’t do small weights well), there’s chocolate in the baking aisle that’s conveniently pre-marked for sizing information (so you don’t have to chop a half-ounce of a slab of chocolate like I did), so you can measure chocolate.

And you certainly know how to simmer things. So all that’s left is how it tastes!

h3. Consumption

On the first pass, it’s quite good. I don’t like it as much as my chili, but I think Bill likes it more.

There’s a lot of flavor going on in this chili, which makes it pretty good for a winter dish, I think. It’s one to savor and taste slowly.

There’s definitely no distinct “chocolate” flavor, for those who might be concerned with that. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the chocolate does or doesn’t add, in this chili. It may just be a different element of “sweetness” than the sugar, which is no bad thing.

I served this with a batch of “Pioneer Woman’s Cornbread.”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/123-67-Skillet-Cornbread.html And re-reading that entry reminds me that, technically, Bill and I have made chili this season! “Pioneer Woman’s Chili that isn’t really chili!”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/122-66-Simple,-Perfect-Chili.html I guess it just so utterly didn’t feel like “chili” to us that we didn’t even think of it.

I also guess it means I should read my own blog more often. Do you all do that? Go back and read your blog again? If so, at what interval? (I’m totally a put it down once and never look again sort of gal. If this were a paper entry, I’d blithely continue on thinking I hadn’t made chili this season, because I wouldn’t have had any reason to hunt down the previous entry on cornbread. This might be worldview changing!)