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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Alarm Chili

This chili has three different layers of heat from three different chili peppers: ancho, jalapeno and chipotle. If you like your chili on the mild side, remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers, or just use one or two.

Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. They are mostly mild but occasionally carry some heat. The jalapeno gives this hearty stew a fresh green chili flavor. Chipotles, smoked jalapenos, add an earthy and smoky flavor and aroma.

For a vegetarian version, omit the ground buffalo meat and add two large portabella mushrooms instead. Wipe them clean and place them gill-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Broil until they start to brown and the gills start to crisp. Cool, then roughly chop and add them to the chili at the same time as the tomatoes.

If you don’t have ground buffalo meat, substitute another grass-fed or pasture-raised ground meat, like beef, chicken or turkey.

This is a great dish to make ahead if you want a quick meal to heat and eat on demand. Not only is it convenient, but when you allow the stew to sit, the flavors have more time to develop.

1 ancho chili pepper
1 chipotle pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 pound ground grass-fed buffalo meat
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin
Ground peppercorn to taste
Sea salt to taste
28 oz chopped fire-roasted tomatoes or regular tomatoes
2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 oz can)
2 cups cooked red beans (or one 15 oz can)

To garnish:

Whole milk Greek or strained yogurt
Thinly sliced scallions
Roughly chopped cilantro

Tear up the ancho and chipotle peppers and add them to a spice grinder with the coriander seeds. Grind them into a powder and set aside.

Add the olive oil to a soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper and jalapeno. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about one minute more. Do not burn the garlic.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the ground chili and coriander mixture, along with the cumin, ground peppercorn and a generous pinch of sea salt. Use clean hands to break up the ground buffalo and drop it into the pot. Cook 5 to 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the buffalo is cooked through.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, red beans, and enough water to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in the fridge until ready to eat (gently warm the chili over medium-low heat before serving).

When the chili is hot, perfectly seasoned and ready to serve, ladle it into bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, sliced scallions and cilantro.

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