Chili: Let the Winter Search Begin

So everyone has those dishes that are old school staples, you know, stuff that only “mom makes the best” kind of deal. I am a firm believer that Chili…and Lasagna are key memories of every child growing up of how their mom/dad, grandma’s, ect used to make them. I decided to attack chili this episode. I LOVE my mom’s chili. I don’t think it was until about 2 years ago that I ever found another chili I truly enjoyed. (Bison Witches). Not to mention…I found that every time I made “our” chili… more times than not, it’s not a big hit. It’s very creamy, thick, and has it’s own sweetness to it too, which is probably what throws most people off. (Brown sugar and Pork’n’Beans brand beans)

After years of saying no to any kind of restaurant chili, I was tired of my favorite Wisconsin Cheese at Bison Witches downtown being inconsistent, so I ventured outside the fence and tried the chili. Holy awesome. It’s the total opposite of everything chili I was accustomed to. Runny, less beans, cheese, and just killer savory flavor.  It’s been years since this moment, and I still haven’t tried a new recipe.Shame. Not only is Mom’s the ‘ol’ steady’, but it’s also fast. It doesn’t need to be in a crock pot or on the stove for hours upon hours, and that is my excuse for never trying anything new up until now.

My parents were out of town this week on vacation so I was house sitting. They happen to have a bunch of last-minute tomatoes and peppers from the garden that made it before the freeze the other night, and beef was on sale this week at the store…so winner, winner, beefy…dinner. Let the chili makin’ begin.

I decided to use butter initially instead of oil. No reason at all, except for that I wanted to break rules… you’ll find that EVERY recipe says to start with oil. Rebel. Throw in the onions,  mushrooms, peppers, salt and pepper…just let em cook until the onions get soft. I would love to tell you that there was order to this madness….but from here on out- I literally just started throwing things in there and taste testing it until I got what I wanted. Beef stock, beef,tomato paste, garlic, lots of chili powder, black beans, cayenne, ginger,oregano, lots of fresh tomatoes and all there juices, and cinnamon.  So oops… so on accident, I let a lil’ too much cinnamon get away from me, so from here forward I more or less attempted to fix the slightly over powered spice. ha!

 

Surprise!!…guess what the two secret ingredients in chili are? Beer…and cocoa powder.  Does every one else know this, or have I just been in the dark from only using one chili recipe for 25 years? I went chili recipe surfing before this situation began, and I found that most “award winning” have the strangest things in them. Who would have thought to combine beer with cocoa powder? Genius’s, that who. Seriously though, beer, tsp or two of cocoa. Oh…and mustard. Squeeze some in there…I love the little zip it gives, as well as the lime juice (ya lime juice, feel free to start rolling your eyes). Have you totally doubted me yet? Does it sound like I just started opening cabinets and throwing things in a pot? It’s ok…I would feel the same way if were reading this. But hey… they aren’t the worst ingredients in the world to combine and soak!

Two hours of sizzling later, I ladled up along with some cheddar cheese stirred in and healthy dollop of sour cream. I absolutely ADORE the finish that sour cream gives to this chili. It really wraps everything up and brings all the ingredients in together. 

Bottom Line: Good chili- definitely had a lot of character. I think the sour cream made it come together very cohesively. I’m curious to see what would have happened if I hadn’t overkilled on the cinnamon. Just a little too much ….is a lot too much with that powerful and potent spice.  I will remain on the hunt…for the best possible chili over the course this winter. Feel free to post/submit/email yours so I can try yours, and maybe throw my own twist on it. Chili-Mission-GO!

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