I probably should have posted this recipe before Super Bowl Sunday. Ooh...that would have been good. Football and award-winning chili. Or award-winning chili mixed with Velveeta for a spicy, smoky Super Bowl chip dip. Mmm...Velveeta...nectar of the Junk Food Gods. But I digress...
Just in case I haven't mentioned it yet, this is my award-winning chili recipe--the one that got me a gift card to Chili's (the restaurant...ha!) and custody of the office chili trophy and bragging rights for a year. That's some respectable booty for an office cook-off, if I do say so myself.
Initially, I wanted to make a green (as opposed to red) chili. That idea came from a combination of restaurant dishes I'm totally addicted to: the tomatillo salsa at Chevy's and the salsa verde at Rosa Mexicano. But I couldn't find tomatillos--what would have been the main ingredient in my green chili--anywhere. So back to the drawing board.
(This is where I have to hand it to Food Network. I learned about fire-roasted tomatoes from Rachel Ray, chipotles in adobo from Bobby Flay, and seasoning each element/layer of a recipe from Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali.)
If I couldn't have a green chili, I was sure going to have a flavorful one--a spicy, smoky one. So, tomatillo-less, I set out to find fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotles in adobo sauce. I was lucky enough to find these easily at the grocery store and got to work.
The aromatics were a no-brainer. I think onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos are just a given when it comes to chili. But I put my twist on it by adding--of all things--butter (Paula Deen would be proud) and dried red pepper flakes.
Next came the beef, which I seasoned before browning, of course, and then a few twists thrown in to the wet stuff. I don't think you can have chili without beans, so I used some that were pre-seasoned. I didn't want them too saucy or salty, so I strained the beans and discarded the liquid. I then added fresh cilantro, lime juice, and--to cut the acidity of the tomatoes with just a tiny bit of something sweet--grandma's secret ingredient.
Keep tasting the chili as you add each layer and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Flavor Layer 1: The Aromatics
|3 tablespoons olive oil|
1 1/2 teaspoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
2 minced jalapeno peppers
3 minced cloves garlic
pinch black pepper
Flavor Layer 2: The Meat
2 pounds ground beef
Flavor Layer 3: The Wet Stuff
|3 14.5-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes|
1 7-ounce can chipotles in adobo, chopped
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chili
1 16-ounce can chili beans, strained
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grape jelly
Flavor Layer 4: The Additional Seasonings
dehydrated parsley flakes
- Cut up and measure all your aromatics.
- Put the olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Once the butter melts, throw in the dried red pepper flakes and stir around with a spatula or wooden spoon for about a minute.
- Add your aromatics, salt, and pepper, and saute until the onions are translucent, stirring often.
- As your aromatics are sauteing, season your ground beef. Put the beef in a bowl and sprinkle with spices. Knead the meet with your hands to distribute all the flavorings evenly. Set aside until Step 5.
- Once the onions in the aromatics are translucent, add the seasoned beef. Brown the ground beef and use your spatula or wooden spoon to break up the beef and to mix in the sauteed aromatics.
- Once it is browned and broken up in to even pieces, taste the beef for seasoning. Add any of the ingredients listed in "Flavor Level 4: The Additional Seasonings" to taste. (Please be mindful, though, that several of the ingredients in "Flavor Level 3: The Wet Stuff" already have a good amount of salt and spicy heat in them.)
- Ready the ingredients from"Flavor Level 3: The Wet Stuff": open all the cans, chop and measure the cilantro, strain the chili beans, chop the chipotles, and measure the green chili and lime juice. Add to the pot.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer. Taste the mixture and add any of the ingredients listed in "Flavor Level 4: The Additional Seasonings" to taste, being careful not to add too much salt or heat.
- Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, so that all the flavors mingle.
- Serve hot with a sprinkling of shredded cheese on top and some tortilla chips on the side.