Young and Hungry

Surviving Snowmageddon with Homemade Chili

chili 1

After writing about chili, and tasting various versions of it, this past week, I was itchin' to make my own. And when better to tend to a large pot of chili then with 20 inches of mother nature's finest outside the door?

The only problem with making chili is that you can't totally improvise the dish. You must have certain ingredients, you know, like chili peppers and meat. Perhaps tomatoes (don't start with the tomato-hating, all right?) and onions and cheddar cheese, too.

So I walked the streets like The Omega Man to our local Co-op, where I ran straight into the politically correct buzzsaw. There was no 80-20 ground beef or even a lean chuck cut to be found. (Hell, I couldn't even get my hands on fresh peppers, so went with the jarred version and powdered cayenne instead.) I settled for a grass-fed organic strip streak and andouille sausage for the proteins, which perhaps is not settling at all. The issue for me was cost. I was not going to shell out a ton of cash for chili meat. So I stocked up on dried kidney beans and veggies instead.

You can see most of the chili ingredients in the photo above, including a couple of peppers from Morou Ouattara's new spice line. (The alligator peppers, perhaps, weren't the best fit for the stew, since they had a cooling, pine-needle, Szechwan peppercorn-like quality about them. I used them sparingly.) 

 Once I had the ingredients, it was a pretty simple process:

chili 2

Here's my mise en place for the chili. Judge away, all you chefs!

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The proteins, ready for browning, then the pot.

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The dried kidney beans, rinsed and ready for the slow simmer.

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The pot of chili, just starting its long, slow braise. There are few things better than the smell of chili cooking in your kitchen.

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The final dish, with shredded mild and sharp cheddar cheeses and diced onions. It was, alas, too heavy on kidney beans, but the spice was right. I drank a glass of milk afterward to cool down the palate.

  • HelenaHimm

    I wonder if you've tried your Chilli with a side of rice.

    Question, what's your take on the Chocolate ingredient in the chili?

  • Tim Carman

    I've had red beans with rice, but rarely chili. I do like it over spaghetti, though, chili-mac style

    I'm personally not a fan of sweetened chili, but that's just my personal taste.

  • jburka

    Um, I hate to ask a silly question, Tim, but what makes you think that a chili with chocolate is sweetened? When I make chili, I like to use ground chipotle, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, mexican oregano, chili powder, various chilis...and a bit of cocoa powder.

    There's nothing sweet about it.

  • Tim Carman


    That's a fair point. I made an assumption that it would be sweetened chocolate, not pure cocoa powder. I've never had chili prepared that way. How much cocoa powder do you use and how pronounced is its flavor? I would imagine it would give the stew a bitter note...


  • Helena Himm

    Sometimes I make Chili with 2lb ground beef, plus 3 cups of pinto or black beans, spices etc etc, 4 tomatoes, and depending on their acidity I add semi-sweet Chocolate let's say 1 oz and test. It's quite interesting it's not sweet but i've noticed the chocolate brings out a bolder flavor in my Chili.

    Today I made Chili and served it with chopped onions, lime juice & cilantro, Avocados (have you tried the Glebe Market in Arlington?), $0.65 avocados it made my day.

    On the vegetarian side rather blend my beans and make a quesadilla out of it =)

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