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Mon, Dec. 09

Chili is family tradition, full of pride

I make chili. It is a family tradition during the holidays, but a good bowl of this stuff is good any time of year.

Some say chili is the State dish of Texas. Actually, it is the fare of the cowboy.

It is a fiery meat dish that is fixed with a lot of frontier pride. If you can stand the heat, rustle up some for your bunch today!

Note that this recipe is one I have been using for more than 20 years, passed along. You cannot go wrong with it, however, see the notes below on how I modify it regularly.

Ingredients:

• 1 green bell pepper, chopped

• 1 red bell pepper, chopped

• 2 onions, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped

• 3 stalks celery, chopped

• 4-6 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (if you can find them, use red jalapenos for better flavor)

• 1/4 cup oil *

• 3 pounds chili meat *

• 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)

• 1/4 cup hot chili powder

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• 2 teaspoons garlic salt

• 2 tablespoons cumin

• 12 ounce bottle beer *

• one can containing about 8-10 whole tomatoes, skinned and chopped

• one 6 ounce can tomato paste

• one 8 ounce can tomato sauce

• one 4 ounce can green chilies, chopped

• 1-1/4 cups water

• 1/4 teaspoon pequin peppers (or to taste)

• two 15 ounce cans ranch-style beans, drained and rinsed

• corn chips

• cheddar cheese, grated

• Monterey-Jack cheese, grated

• sour cream, optional

• fresh corn bread, optional

Directions:

Place bell peppers, onion, garlic, celery, jalapenos and oil in a large Dutch oven, crock pot *, or stock pan. Cook over high heat until all vegetables are tender.

Crumble in chili meat and continue cooking until brown. Drain off excess fat (optional).

Turn the heat off and stir in Tabasco, chili powder, black pepper, garlic, salt, cumin, and 8 ounces of beer. (The other 4 ounces are for the cook!)

Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, green chilies, and water. Turn heat back on and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, place the pequin peppers in a blender and grind them until they are a fine powder. These are VERY hot peppers so add them a little at a time.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2-1/2 hours.

Stir in beans * and continue cooking an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with corn chips and top with cheese.

Makes 6 large bowls of chili.

  • Notes: First, the oil. I use olive oil, but any oil will do, according to your taste.

For the chili meat, beef is best. However, I like to mix it up with venison, elk and beef. Regardless, be sure to get one pound of stew meat (large chunks).

For the beer, some say it has to be Texas beer. I say go with whichever brand the cook likes!

Beans. To bean or not to bean, that is the cowboy question. Follow the independence of the West and make your own decision.

As for the crock pot, skip most steps and merely pile everything inside for overnight cooking. The risk there is you have no way to taste-test it until it’s practically done.

Side note, I do not use the pequin peppers; they’re just too darn hot!

Now, here’s your challenge: Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Chili.

Take the basic recipe and add items you find in the refrigerator – dressings, veggies, ketchup, mustard, mayo, old stuff – with the challenge that it still tastes like chili when you’re done.

The key is of the items you add, one-third should be sweet; one-third savory (sour), and one-third risky.

And, the magical ingredient – when things do not taste just right? – is lemon juice.

Be careful, I have made this stuff so hot we needed a shower afterward.

Enjoy!

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