Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Heloise Moment: Chili Edition

In The South, there are two seasons:  Summer and Christmas.

Three if you count College Football.

Right now, we in Memphis are enjoying wonderfully cool weather.  The AC is off, windows are open, and I have even considered donning a summer sweater.  Shocking, I know.  And, when that little crispy bite permeates the air, I want one thing:  chili.

My Kick ASS Chili

Chili is the ultimate "play around" food because you can create so many different versions.  Not to toot my own horn, but I have been told on more than one occasion that I make the best damned chili folks have ever tasted.  And, I am completely embarrassed to put my recipe for chili on the interweb.  Basically it's opening a bunch of cans and dumping them into a pot.  BUT, thanks to a big sense of play in the kitchen, I do have a couple of tricks to elevate the flavor of canned beans and tomatoes to a level of chili excellence.

* Brown your meat first!  Whatever type of ground meat you are using (turkey, beef, chicken), brown that deliciousness in your chili pot and remove it before you start cooking the rest.  That way all of the flavors will stay in the pan and help season the pot.  And don't forget to give that meat some flavor love, which brings me too...

*Avoid the package seasoning!  Sure grab that bottle of chili powder, but don't shy away from adding additional seasonings.  Cumin, coriander, white pepper, cayenne, and even a pinch of cinnamon can wake up your chili.  Throw in some fresh cilantro at the end for a great bright flavor.

* Play with yo' peppers!  Different peppers add a different quality of heat:  chipotles are smokey, jalapeños are a bright blast, habaneros are...suicidal. You get the idea.  Play around to find which one best suits your palate.

* Season as you go!  Start by sauteing onions, garlic, and peppers with your spices.  Try throwing in some adobo sauce.  Keep adding spice as you add more ingredients.

* De glaze that pan!  You know there is a whole bunch of flavor lingering at the bottom of that pot.  Take advantage of it by adding wine, beer, or even coffee to add depth to your chili.

*Think outside the box.  Try adding black beans, corn, green chiles,  or sun-dried tomatoes. Mix it up!

*Make a ton!  Chili is always better with a crowd.  Invite folks over for the game (or the latest episode of Project Runway) and set up a chili bar with all the fixin's: diced onion, avocado, cilantro, cheese, jalapeños, tortilla chips.  And if no one shows, the stuff freezes like a dream!

Play on, Food Improvisers!

Note:  I love me some vegetarian cooking, but, in my humble opinion, you just need meat for chili.  And for those of you who like that beanless "chili" may as well open up a jar of spaghetti sauce cuz that ain't chili.

No comments:

Post a Comment