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Chunky Chili

Comfort Food 91

The Scenario:

I have tried to play nice with this weather. I have tried to live and let live. If the cold stays outside of my house then I am happy to let it go on being cold, but it just won’t be reasonable. It follows me in after I have been outside. It hides in my bones and rattles my teeth. I’m sick and tired of it. This means war. I am taking the fight back to the weather and I want every one of you to join me. No army can march on an empty stomach and the minute you step outside that cold is going to be coming for you, so what you need is something so hot in your gut that the cold can’t compete. You need some Chunky Chili.

There are about a million different recipes for chili out there, all of them agree on only a few basic points before diverging into each particular cook’s favorite flavors. The basics are always- meat, tomatoes and spice, with little variation. This version is a little bit modern, using some ingredients that aren’t traditionally Mexican. Having said that, it goes back to the roots of chili as a big spicy stew that you could make in a pot over a fire out in the middle of a desert after a hard day of driving cattle.

What You Need:

A big pot

A stovetop

A big spoon

A chopping board

A sharp knife

Ingredients To Feed 8 Hungry People, or 4 Hungry People Twice:

Ingredients for 4 big portions:

1lb beef, preferably cheap casserole steak

A Chorizo ring sausage

1 onion

1 bell pepper

1-3 fresh jalapenos

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

1 can of drained and rinsed kidney beans

Oil, preferably corn oil

Minced garlic

A butt-ton of Paprika

Optional Extras:

You can sit yourself down with a bowl of nothing but chili, eat it, and walk away happy, but if you want to get fancy and turn it into a meal there are a few good options.

Soured cream and shredded cheese both go really well with this, and indeed any, chili, they take some of the spiciness and heat out of it while contributing a whole swathe of new flavors to an already quite complex mixture of tastes and textures. Spiciness and melted cheese are two things that cannot be overestimated.

Serving your chili with plain boiled rice, Chili Con Carne, is the easiest way to bulk it out and make it last longer, the rice also tamps down the heat of the chili, much like a lot of these extra ingredients.

The chili can also be wrapped up in a tortilla with some of these other ingredients to transform it into a vaguely transportable food. Eating it on the bus is still going to be a bit weird, but if you absolutely need to eat chili on the bus, making it into a pseudo-burrito is probably your best bet to avoid getting kicked off.

If this recipe is too mild for you, then you can always switch out the jalapenos for some nastier chilies but my experience is that preparing chili with the jalapenos first, and topping it off with yet more freshly chopped jalapenos actually gives you the heat that you need while also accommodating, women children and the gastronomically feeble. Added bonus- there is no flavor and texture on this earth quite like a raw fresh jalapeno. Failing all else, you can douse it in your favorite hot sauce to get the desired effect.

How To Do It:

1. Chop up your beef into small chunks, about the size of your thumbnail. Chop your Chorizo into thick slices. Chop up your onion and your peppers coarsely, while swearing at them like you are a cowboy. Calling them varmints is acceptable.

2. Stick your pot on the stovetop at high heat and pour in a little drop of oil, then leave it to warm up for a moment.

3. Throw in the Chorizo chunks and marvel at all of that lovely red oil pouring out of them as they warm up, that is what you are going to cook your beef in.

4. Add your teeny bits of beef, it doesn’t matter if they are a little fatty or a little uneven, all that matters is that they are going to get hot as hell.

5. Give the pot a few stirs to stop things from sticking, then add in your onions and peppers, they should start soaking up that color right away.

6. Chop up your jalapenos, if you like things spicy then keep the seeds in, if you prefer to get tucked into bed by your mommy every night, pick them out.

7. Check in on your meat, it should be starting to brown all over, throw in your jalapenos and three teaspoons of garlic, then shake paprika all over everything. Seriously, don’t be shy with the paprika, it is tasty, but you need to dump a ton in for it to compete with the other flavors.

8. Stir that shit.

9. Pour in the kidney beans and both tins of tomatoes and stir everything through.

10. Slap lid on the pot, turn the heat down to medium and leave it on there for as long as you can wait while smelling all of that flavor bubbling around inside there. At least half an hour, preferably a little while longer, but unlike most stewed meals, not much more than an hour or you will turn your vegetables into mush.

Through the magic of modern science you can actually freeze this chili and bring it out later. If you throw it in the fridge it will only last a few days but in the freezer you have a good three months to chew your way through it all. Chili is also one of those great meals that is improved by reheating it the next day. Basically what I am saying is, make this meal once; enjoy it for days and or weeks afterwards, and walk around with some warmth in your gut to see you through to the spring.

G D Penman writes books. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he likes to watch cartoons, play video games, read more books than are entirely feasible and continues on his quest to eat the flesh of every living species. He has worked in just about every job you can have in a restaurant and now he is here to yell at you for using a microwave when there is a perfectly good oven right there.

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