It’s going to take me a while to get used to formatting posts with this new fangled 21st century blogging toy.  When I started blogging it was manual edit of html files (and we were THANKful. now GTFOff my lawn.)

I’m toying with the idea of just giving up all my sooper recipe secrets.  The egg nog, bagels, baguettes, cookies (well, maaayyyyybe not the cookies.)

The way I figure it, I came up with the tweaks that made my take on those things special. I did it before and if I just handed it over to the internet, I would be forced to push the envelope and come up with more.    We’ll see.

IN THE MEANTIME. Here’s the chili I’ve been working on for a few years (call it 4-5 times a year, a little tweak every time, yadda yadda, no I fucking hate Seinfeld.) It’s not the spiciest chili in the world. If you brag about scoville units or what the hell ever then…just go away. You’re a pepperhipster.

But the recipe below, which I just finished the last of today, is the best I’ve made.  I have to stress that it will create a “perfectly serviceable basic chili” and that you’ll end up tweaking it to your taste.  I’ll probably make this a little spicier next time.

A note: I have a 7 1/2 quart crock pot. If you try to do this in a normal sized crock pot, send me pictures of the mess because it’s gonna be fucking hilarious.

THAT said, here we go.  Ingredients first, instructions second, as God intended:

  • 5.1 pounds of 80% lean ground beef (the .1 is just ’cause that’s what it added up to.)
  • 3 Large white onions.
  • 3 Bell Peppers
  • 19oz can of black beans
  • 19oz can of pinto beans
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 28oz crushed tomato (this MIGHT be a bit much. But it backed off after a while, so I’m leaving it like this.)
  • 16oz jar of Pace hot salsa (Yeah, it’s cheating. Bite me. I’m not here to win a ‘from scratch’ award.)
  • 4 Tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 3 (+1 later) Tablespoons Cumin
  • 3 (+1 later) Tablespoons of Chili Powder. (Yeah if you want to go watch Alton Brown’s video on making your own chili powder you can. Yeah your chili will be better than mine if you do. Go brag to your mother.)
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
  • 1/2 Cup of flour (yes really.)
  • 24oz guinness stout (wait what? Damn right.)
  • 4oz can of sliced jalapenos (later)

It’s best to do these more or less in order, just to minimize the amount of time you’re staring at simmering pans.  It’s not the most complex recipe of all time. After all it’s crock pot chili.

Rule #1:  Taste at every stage. You’ll never know what ingredient does what if you don’t taste it every time you do something to it.

  1. Cut up the onions and put them in a large pan on medium low heat WITH A LID. We don’t want to dehydrate them.  We’re not looking for carmelization or anything. We just want to sweat them down a bit.  I find that if I put the onions in raw they never quite cook through all the way in the crock pot, which is fine if that’s how you want them.   Let ’em stew in their own juices.
  2. Turn the crock pot on low.
  3. Drain the cans of beans and pop those in. (people say dry beans are better. Never tried it.)
  4. Tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, salsa, guinness, red pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder (3T of each of those. Like it says above, save 1T for later.)
  5. cut up your peppers as small as you like and toss them in too.
  6. Now for the beef.  I like to cook ground beef really REALLY hot.  Otherwise, it tends to render out and just sorta boil itself and this is chili not some insipid flavorless British peasant food.  To do this, I use a wok on the stove (I tend to use it a lot owing to the fact that it doesn’t fit in my fucking cabinets) at ludicrous heat in batches of… enough.  Seriously. I’ve no idea how much at a time.  As long as you’re browning it and not boiling it, you’re good.
  7. WHEN you brown the last batch of beef, toss the 1/2 cup of flour in there and mix it up pretty good. Since it’s been browned you might want to put a good bunch of the already browned beef back in to just sorta coat with the flour.
  8. Beef in to crock pot.
  9. Check the onions. If they were on medium low and you really started them first, they should probably be ready to go in. Get every drop you can out of that pan in to the crock pot.
  10. Now. Everything is in there except the ‘later’ stuff, which consists of:
    1. 1 Tablespoon of Cumin
    2. 1 Tablespoon of Chili powder
    3. 4oz can of sliced jalapenos
  11. Wait.  Srsly. This is the most awful part of making chili.  You can’t have it today. I don’t care if you started this at 3 in the morning.  You can’t have it today.  Leave it on low until tomorrow afternoon.
  12. It’s tomorrow! (see how that works. Fucking magic.)  Put in the rest of the ‘later’ stuff. Why?  Here’s something nobody ever told me about crock pots until after I’d experienced it a few times: slow cooking DESTROYS spices.  It pulls the sharpness right out of them. That’s why we use so much on the front end, it bleeds in to the chili wonderfully, creating a great flavor base without being too sharp.  It seems on the front end like a ridiculous amount of cumin to put in anything.
  13. So we need, after 18 to 24 hours, to give the spices a swift kick in the ass. That’s why we held off with the jalapenos and a bit of each of the spices, more or less.  Dump them in now and mix it up pretty good.
  14. Give it another hour and a half.
  15. Eat.

Some more of the whys:

Flour:  The flour adds texture, plain and simple.  I like my chili to be a gloppy mess. Don’t? leave it out.  It will affect the flavor not one bit.

Crushed Tomatoes: When you taste this as the initial ingredients are all in there, you’re going to make a face and say “that’s awfully tomatoey.” I did and I was pissed because I thought I misread my recipe from the last time.  But the magic of the crock pot pulls the sweetness of the tomatoes way back by the end of things.  It’s really really not too much by the time it’s done.

Guinness: CRITICAL.  I promise you if you obey orders and taste it after you’ve mixed the Guinness in you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised by the affect it has.  It adds a richness to the flavor that nobody (yet) has been able to guess the source of.

Cumin: I think, pepper aside, it’s the most important spice in chili. It actually serves a pretty similar role in the flavor profile as the Guinness.

So enjoy.  Next time I’ll probably put a bunch of bacon in  (cooked to crispy and crumbled first) and I’ll probably amp up on the peppers by chopping up a little can of chipotle’s as well for the back end.