Most food historians consider the following to be the original chili: no beans, no tomatoes, just chiles and cubes of beef in gravy. Most Americans are not impressed. What follows here is the type of chili that instead gets made in millions of homes, particularly when the guys get together to watch football. Heck, this stuff is so good you could eat it watching a live telecast of Tristan and Isolde from the Metropolitan Opera. It’s runny, tomato-y, a little sweet, downright crowd-pleasing. AND…I have contrived to get the real flavor of chiles into this thing in a number of ways…including the addition of an award-winning hot sauce.
Makes 4 servings (supplemented by plenty of beer and tortilla chips)
¼ cup vegetable oil, or more if necessary
28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground beef chuck
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely diced
1 hot green fresh chile, seeded and finely chopped (more or less to taste)
a few drops of Henry Family Farms Meruga Chile Extraction (see chile sauce NOTE)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1¾ cups unsalted chicken broth (homemade or canned), plus more if necessary
¾ cup cheap beer
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chili spice mixture (recipe follows)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8-ounces canned kidney beans, drained
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a thin layer of the oil. Slice all of the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle a small amount of oil over each tomato half, place the baking sheet in the oven and roast them for about 1 hour. They will shrink a bit, concentrating their flavor, but should still be quite moist. Remove them from the oven, chop them coarsely and reserve.
2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the pork and beef and lightly brown it all over, reducing the heat if the meat threatens to burn, about 5 or 6 minutes (do this in batches if the skillet doesn’t easily contain the meat in one layer). As the meat cooks, break up the larger chunks with a wooden spoon. Transfer the meat to a bowl and reserve.
3. Let the skillet cool slightly and place it over a medium-low flame, adding another 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, the chiles, the Meruga Chile Extraction, and garlic; cook gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, beer, 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture, the salt and the tomato paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved roasted tomatoes and reserved meat, raise the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil. Immediately reduce to a bare simmer, cover loosely with a lid or foil and cook, very gently, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in the beans and the remaining 1 teaspoon of chili spice mixture, cover loosely, and cook for a half hour more. When ready, the chili should resemble a stew with a thinnish liquid, but shouldn’t be at all watery. Stir in additional broth or water if it seems a bit dry. Conversely, if the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, uncover the skillet and allow it to simmer and thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning, and serve in individual bowls. Pass extra Meruga Chile Extraction for the nose tackles and linebackers.
Chili Spice Mixture
3 tablespoons prepared chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Makes about 1/2 cup.
Chile sauce NOTE:
You want this ingredient in your chile! Here are my comments on Bob Henry’s new 2013 Meruga Chile Extraction, from Henry Family Farm in Virginia. Caveat emptor! We’d been selling the super-hot Naga Jolokia Ghost, but it was de-throned a few years ago as hottest chile in the world…when this member of the “scorpion” chile family was discovered in Trinidad! (Habaneros are about 350,000 Scoville units, Naga Jolokia is about a million, and Meruga is about 2 million!!!) This dark-red bomb is THE go-to chile extraction when what you’re looking for is supreme superhuman sizzle. A little more orange in color than the Ghost, it also features great flavor along with the heat: tomato/bell pepper, plus a little habanero-like fruit! Just go to HenryHotSauce.com…and you’re ready to kick off!