Chilly or Chili?

Chili is one of those dishes that get people all worked up. Beans or no beans, tomatoes or no tomatoes, armadillo or no armadillo...you name it, someone will claim it's not really chili with/without various ingredients.

My mother made what she called "Chili Soup". She would take 2 quarts of homemade stewed tomatoes, two cans of kidney beans, a pound of ground beef, a couple of onions chopped fine, a tablespoon of chili powder and about 4 quarts of water, cook it up and serve it with lots of crackers. Mom also loved Wendy's chili because it reminded her of homemade chili.

Blech! I hated chili until I went away to college and ate chili at the original BW3. They used to have Buffalo Breath Chili. It was a meat paste with lots of flavor. No tomatoes that I recall, and no beans...just meat and spices. And hot - boy was it hot....You could weld with this shit it was so hot. I loved it. It was real in a way that Mom's and Wendy's chili wasn't.

A recent "chili" recipe in a local newspaper called Columbus Alive called for 54 oz of tomato products to 16 oz of ground beef. That is just wrong. That is flavored tomato sauce with beef in it.

My definition is fairly broad: Chili is a stew that consists of ground meat seasoned with chili peppers, tomatoes and onions with just enough liquid added to turn it into soup instead of a loose meat sandwich. The major ingredient must be ground meat. Not water - not tomatoes- not beans. All those ingredients can play a supporting roll, but I want meat dammit. Meat Meat Meat!!!!

I will be honest - I do not have pictures of my chili. Mostly because they were so damned unattractive I deleted them from the camera. It looked like - ummm - body stuff. Bad body stuff. Chili is one of those foods that just isn't very photogenic. The same with my cream of tomato soup. Tastes great - photographs badly. My food porn is definitely amateur. It is equal to real amateur porn shot with an flabby chick who has a skin rash and a c-section scar. Wrong wrong wrong!!! (Pardon me while I wash that image from my mind with a bottle of beer...)

I have a couple different version of chili - one where I take my time and roast dried chiles and grind them into a paste so on and so forth. That's my "I have nothing better to do this weekend but cook" chili. I don't make that very often anymore. Then I have my "friends are coming over and want something that will warm them up because it -17 with the windchill" chili. This is that recipe. If you want a "I have nothing better to do this weekend" recipe, I recommend wasting time on the Internet before starting. There are people who are more anal than I putting up their recipes online for you to try out.

Rosie's It Too Damn Cold Outside Chili

(This will fill my 6 qt crockpot which I use as a warmer when we are having people over)

6 pounds of ground beef (yeah SIX pounds - I didn't say this was cheap)
4 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 fresh chile pepper chopped (such as jalapeno, Anaheim or whatever is lurking at the grocery store that looks good.)
2 packages of onion soup mix (Yeah - onion soup mix - deal with it)
1 bottle of good beer
1/4 cup of good commerical chili powder (I use hot chili powder from Penzey's)
1 t cumin powder
2 t of Mexican oregano
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 chipolte peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 15 oz cans of tomatoes with chile peppers
1 6 oz can of tomato sauce (Mexican style if you have it)
Black Pepper to taste

Brown off the beef with onions, peppers and garlic in batches. Add the veggies after the meat has started to cook to avoid burning the garlic. Drain off fat. Put in a large dutch oven or heavy soup pot.

Add everything else to the pot. After you add the beer, add enough water to make sure everything is wet. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 hours stirring every so often until the beef is tender and flavors are melded. Taste partway through cooking and adjust the amount of salt - since I am using so many canned ingredients plus the onion soup mix, it usually doesn't require any additional.

That's it. Pretty straight forward. It's the kind of dish I know can be ready to feed a crew without a lot of work on my part. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onions, crackers and anything else that strikes your fancy.

To extend the batch of chili, you can serve it over spaghetti (bastards!) or save some out and hit it with a stick blender and turn it into the makings of fantastic chili dogs...


Anything to alter your conciousness...

I have always maintained that humans (and other animals) love a tipple - and they will do anything to get it...

Here are some instructions on how to make fermented tea.

Fermented mare's milk, anyone?

I'll let you know if I get brave enough to try the tea. I am not planning on milking a horse anytime soon...


In response to a response...

Back on the 4th I posted about how I had fallen out of love with the Food Network and garnered this comment:

Anonymous said...
Why are you guys so mean? I know, maybe Rachel is not the best cook or baker--but neither am I. I want to prepare meals for my family that are quick and enjoyable. What's wrong with that? Yes, the FN should bring back classic cooking shows that really TEACH. I am not confident enough in the kitchen to try new dishes from experts like Rosie. After mastering meals from Rachel, which don't require a lot of thinking, i have some cook notches under my belt. And that's ok for right now. However, once mastered I am looking forward to real-quality shows like Roise once had.

First of all Anonymous, please use a screen name. Nothing irritates me more than people who see fit to parade their opinions in public and use the screen name "Anonymous"... If you take the time to write it, have the balls to stand behind it. It takes two minutes to sign up for a blogger account.

Rachel Ray bugs the hell out of me for a lot of reasons. One, her whole act is so damn saccharine that it makes me gag. "EVOO" and "Sammies". Damn! Sounds like some eight year old invaded the set of a cooking show or something. I am not a kid and I resent being talked to in baby talk. Use big people words, for Pete's sake. Shows like Cook's Illustrated and Jacque Pepin's Fast Food My Way have recipes are just as easy, quick and tasty - and guess what? They speak as though they are talking to intelligent adults! My god! It's so shocking!

The second thing I want to point out is that Rachel Ray does not develop the majority of her recipes. You ever watch "Next Food Network Star"? You ever see those people flitting around the edges of the kitchens in some shots? Those are the people who work hard making mooks like Rachel Ray look good. They are the people who went to culinary school and earned their lumps the hard way. They develop the recipes, write them up and pass them on to an editor who looks them over and THEN your precious Ray-ray gets them. By and large, Rachel has become a figure head for a huge machine. She has no professional experience. If you asked her how to fix a broken holandaise sauce, I am putting money she would have to ask one of the technical advisers for help before answering. (Hey Raspil - how do you salvage it?!! Put that degree to work girl!)

So much of Food Network is about entertainment. It is what makes money. And some ditsy girl spokeswoman is what people want. If consumers really wanted Sara Moulton or Cat Cora, those chefs would still be on the channel. The only reason Good Eats has survived is that Alton Brown put an entertaining spin on his messages. As the seasons go on - there is less and less science in his shows and more and more entertainment. Get the DVD's if you don't believe me...

By the way Anon - you don't mind if I call you that do you? How do you think I learned to cook? Sure I got a little bit from my mom, but mostly I taught myself from books. And not one of those books were endorsed by Rachel Ray or her ilk. If you really care about feeding your family good food, then get down the the local library and check out books by people like Mark Bittman (aka The Minimalist), Jacque Pepin, Marion Cunningham plus lots of others. Read reviews. Sometimes you will look through a whole book and only take one recipe away. And that's ok...becoming your own person is not something that you can buy in a box and just add water too. It requires you to put some effort into it.

If you really love food, you don't need someone dumbing down the recipes. You're a big girl (or boy). You don't need Rachel and her hollow shell of edu-tainment. Enough Pablum. No more milk toast. Cooking is not entertainment. It's not a spectator sport. It requires you to use your brain. It requires skills, intelligence and a willingness to maim yourself in the name of good nutrition. If you are not thinking about the food you cook, then you are doing it all wrong. You know what? I can walk into my kitchen and whip up noodles four different ways in about 30 minutes from just the items in my pantry. Rachel didn't teach me that. I taught me that.

So that is why I am so mean...I demand that credit be given where credit is due. I demand that I be addressed in a mature, adult manner. I demand more substance and less filler. And lastly, I demand that Rachel go on the air and admit she is a big fat figurehead who is pimping it out for the man... Of course, I can demand all I want. And I'm just adult enough to KNOW that none of them are going to happen.

So after all is said and done, Anon, I have one real piece of advice for you: Unhook yourself from Rachel's glass teat and try some solid food...