Chili: Twists on an Old Tra­di­tion

Passage Maker - - @Rest -

Cau­tion: be­fore you start brag­ging about your ab­so­lutely amaz­ing chili at the next dock­side gath­er­ing, pause a mo­ment to con­sider the fact that you may be fu­el­ing a se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion be­tween you and your cruis­ing bud­dies. Think about it—the rit­ual is well es­tab­lished. Ev­ery year, from coast to coast, oth­er­wise sane chili-lovers gather for big-time cook-off con­tests. Many of these events fol­low the pro­to­cols es­tab­lished by the In­ter­na­tional Chili So­ci­ety (ICS) whose sole pur­pose is to “pro­mote, de­velop and im­prove the prepa­ra­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of true chili and to de­ter­mine each year the World’s Cham­pion Chili through of­fi­cially sanc­tioned and reg­u­lated com­pet­i­tive cook-offs.” Armed with select cuts of meat, care­fully cho­sen chili pep­pers, a range of spices, and top-se­cret in­gre­di­ents, cook-off par­tic­i­pants take their chili se­ri­ously.

The In­ter­na­tional Chili So­ci­ety has been around for more than five decades but ac­cord­ing to ICS lore, com­pe­ti­tions go way back: “From the time the sec­ond per­son on earth mixed some chile pep­pers with meat and cooked them, the great chili de­bate was

on; more of a war, in fact. The de­sire to brew up the best bowl of chili in the world is ex­actly that old.”

But the de­bate is not lim­ited to whose chili is best. For cen­turies heated ar­gu­ments have also raged about where the first batch was made and who cre­ated it. Es­ti­mates range from the very im­pre­cise “some­where west of Laramie,” to a recipe that dates back to the 1850s. In that recipe, dried beef, suet, dried chili pep­pers, and salt were pounded to­gether, formed into bricks and dried. On the trail cow­boys threw a chili brick into the pot, added some wa­ter and boiled up a tasty meal.

Nowa­days just about ev­ery state lays claim to the best chili ti­tle, and to top that just about ev­ery Texan be­lieves that the ti­tle rests in the Lone Star State. Given this his­tory, I’m not about to lay claim to a “true” chili recipe (where, ac­cord­ing to the ICS, no beans are al­lowed) but I am go­ing to in­tro­duce some new in­gre­di­ents that will bring a healthy twist and new fla­vors to this easy, one-pot, al­ways pop­u­lar meal.

FLA­VOR-PACKED TURKEY CHILI

Serves: 6 No ques­tion, spinach is an un­usual ad­di­tion to the chili pot but do give it a try. Spinach adds another sub­tle layer of fla­vor, in­creases the nu­tri­tional value and adds a wel­come burst of color to the chili bowl. And be­cause this lean, pro­tein-packed chili is mildly sea­soned feel free to kick up the fla­vor by adding more chili pow­der, a pinch of cayenne or some of your fa­vorite hot sauce. If you skip the spinach, this chili still tastes great. 2 1 1 larg­ered cloves pounds ta­ble­spoon­spep­per, onion, gar­lic, ground diced diced mincedo­live turkey­oil 4 2 1½ ta­ble­spoon­stea­spoons cumin­chili pow­der 2 2 tea­spoons co­rian­der 1 tea­spoon dried oregano Salt to taste 1 28-ounce can diced to­ma­toes 3 cans pinto beans (can­nellini, kid­ney, black, or a combo), rinsed and drained 3 cups chicken broth 4 cups baby spinach (op­tional) In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pep­per and gar­lic and sauté un­til the vegeta­bles are just be­gin­ning to soften, about 6-8 min­utes. Stir in the turkey and break it up with a spoon. Con­tinue to sauté, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til the turkey is browned, about 15-20 min­utes. Stir in the chili pow­der, cumin, co­rian­der, oregano, and salt and then cook for 2 ad­di­tional min­utes. Stir in the to­ma­toes, beans, and chicken broth. Sim­mer, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 15 min­utes. Add the spinach and cook un­til it wilts. Spoon into warmed bowls and add your fa­vorite top­pings.

VE­GAN CHILI: BET­TER WITH BEER

Serves: 6 If you’ve never cooked with beer you’re in for a treat. The com­plex fla­vors in the dark Mex­i­can beer used in this recipe bring in­stant depth to the ba­sic fla­vors, sav­ing you hours of stove­top sim­mer­ing. And don’t worry about a bev­er­age: Be sure to have plenty of cold ones ready to serve with din­ner. In­gre­di­ents2 1 1 4 larg­ered cloves ta­ble­spoon­spep­per,(per onion, gar­lic, per­son diced diced mincedo­live served):oil Salt2 and ta­ble­spoon­spep­per to taste chili pow­der 2 tea­spoons oregano 1 12-ounce bot­tle dark Mex­i­can lager (like Ne­gra Modelo) 1 28-ounce can diced to­ma­toes 1 15-ounce can red kid­ney beans, rinsed and drained 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pep­per, gar­lic, salt, and pep­per. Cook, stir­ring of­ten, un­til vegeta­bles are just be­gin­ning to soften, about 6 to 8 min­utes. Stir in the chili pow­der and oregano and cook for 2 min­utes. Pour in the beer and cook un­til re­duced by half—about 6 to 8 min­utes. Stir in the to­ma­toes and beans and bring to a sim­mer. Cook un­til thick­ened—about 25 to 30 min­utes. Cook’s Notes: If you pre­fer a meatier ver­sion stir in 1½ pounds of lean ground beef (or turkey) af­ter the vegeta­bles have soft­ened and sauté un­til the meat be­gins to brown, about 15-20 min­utes. n Karen Even­den has cooked aboard boats from the U.S. to Europe. She and her hus­band now cruise the West Coast aboard a Kadey-Kro­gen. She has self-pub­lished A Taste of Croa­tia and Ojai’s Ta­ble, both avail­able at Ama­zon.com.

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