Chili, Norcal Wingman Style

Two and a half years ago I made my first batch, it was worth a third place.  Although the results were clearly rigged (I have no real proof, but have a hunch) I probably had the best standard chili.  The second place chili was more of a spicy seafood chowder and the first place chili was handed out by its creator, totally not allowed in an anonymous contest!  Anyhow, last year I came back with a fury and won first place.  I’m hoping it wasn’t a fluke, there were less competitors last year.  So, this year I have to come back and defend my title.  I’ve been getting challenges from everyone in the office.  I had no idea someone had painted a bulls-eye on my back.

I’ve been trying, with each batch of chili I make, to increase the heat by adding more and different peppers.  I know I could cheat by adding hot sauce of various makes just to “add heat,” but I think that when you kick up the fire that way you really sacrifice flavor.  So, I’ve kept chasing the perfect level of pain through pepper additions.

Pepper Power

Additionally this year, I was lucky enough to have our good friends provide the beef for this chili.  My buddy Zippy (yep, that’s his name people), bought a whole beef earlier this year and still had a few roasts left over so he got me a 2.6 lb cross-rib roast.  Now, just to let you know, I’ve had a few other tastes of this beef (named Durham) and it’s been some of the most flavorful and yummy I’ve ever had.

With all this going for me, here’s the recipe:

2.5 – 3.0 Lbs. Beef Roast
1 whole, large white Onion
3-4 cloves garlic (about 4 Tblspn, finely chopped)
3 Serano Peppers
2 Jalapeno Peppers
2 Fresno Peppers
2 Habanero Peppers
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1 Large Green Bell Pepper
5-6 Fresh or Frozen Tomatoes (I used some watermelon heirlooms frozen from last summer)
1/2 Cup Whiskey (I chose Gentleman Jack)
2 24oz. Cans of Fire-Roasted Stewed Tomatos
10oz./each Dried Beans (White, Black, Kidney)

Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Ancho Chili Powder
Chipotle Chili Powder
Chili Powder
Smoked Paprika

In a crock pot, large enough to hold all of this, open the cans of stewed tomatoes and start cooking.  Put crock pot on low.  First thing is to get the meat ready.  Pat roast dry with paper towels and cut into 1cm/1cm cubes, place into a glass/non-reactive bowl, once the bowl is half-full, season beef with all off the spices/seasonings (best guess or according to your tastes) continue cutting meat and once finished season beef again.

Finely chop up the garlic.  In a large skillet 12″ or bigger, heat olive oil to medium-high heat and add beef and some of the chopped garlic.  NOTE:  This will probably take 2 or 3 batches depending on your skillet/stove.  Once beef is in skillet, chop the 3 serano peppers into little rings (don’t worry about de-seeding), take a portion of the seranos and place into skillet with beef.

As the beef starts to brown take a portion of the whiskey and add to the skillet (carefully!).  I use a lighter to ignite the alcohol and cook it off.  Once fully cooked place beef into the crock pot, repeat for as many times as necessary to cook all of the meat.

The rest is super simple, Chop and de-seed the remaining peppers and add to the crock pot.  I dice some of the jalapeno and make some “nacho rings” but chop the others more finely.  I chop the bell peppers and onion rather large.

A note on the beans.  I pre-prepared the beans before beginning my chili.  I do not soak them overnight or anything.  I do however put them in a large stock pot with salted water, bring to a boil and let sit one hour.  I had done this a week prior for my “test batch” and froze the unused portion of beans for use in this chili.

The crock pot really does the rest.  I set my heat on low and set to cook for 8 hours. Test your chili’s flavor while cooking and add spices and seasoning as needed.  I usually add more cumin and salt at some point.

Now, some of you probably know what I’m about to say, but it bears repeating.  Soups, chilis and other things, while tasty after cooking for this long, really develop their best flavor after cooling down and being reheated.  So, I planned my cooking time into this.  I started my chili in the evening so that it would be finished in the morning and I could turn it off and put it into the fridge to cool, then be reheated and perfectly ready for competition.  Please consider this when preparing yours.

There are many “condiments” that I would recommend with chili, included in those are: Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Nacho Rings, Chopped onion (red or white) and most importantly Corn bread!

I was exceptionally pleased with this batch, after cooling and reheating it maintained a very good “heat” from the peppers and the flavor was great.