I have posted weekday chili before (1 & 2), but my followers will know that I can rarely make the same dish the same way twice. This time I did not want to make a huge pot of beans, just enough for 4-5 person/meals. I have stripped down the ingredients list, but recently I have discovered that adding some Better than Bouillon greatly enhances the flavor of soups and stews.
While much of the time I simply chop up my chilies, today I decided to roast many of my vegetables and remove the tough skins. While many people roast their chilies whole, I like to speed up the process by cutting them in half lengthwise. This way both sides of the vegetables are exposed to the broiler at the same time, cutting the roasting time in half.
My usual way of thickening chili is to crush some of the beans or to add a can of refried beans to the mix. Since I had decided to use only one can of beans, neither of these options suited me. I had some old tortillas in the refrigerator that would work nicely as a thickener. Toasting them to browned and crispy goodness, I ran them through a standing blender to make about a quarter cup of fine corn meal powder.
Karl’s Weekday Beef Chili III
1 Anaheim chili
1 Poblano Chili
½ green bell pepper
2 Roma tomatoes
2 corn tortillas
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
½ lb. ground beef (80%)
1 cup yellow onion
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup celery
¼ cup cilantro stems, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. Chili powder or Karl’s Four Chile Chili Powder
1 can (29 oz.) Goya pinto beans
½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1. Cut the Anaheim, Jalapeño, Poblano chilies in half lengthwise and remove the stems, seeds, and veins.
2. Cut the green bell pepper in half and remove the stems, seeds and veins.
Tip: Reserve the other half for another dish.
3. Cut the Roma tomatoes in half at the equator and remove the seeds.
Tip: Save the tomato “jelly” around the seeds by placing them in a sieve over a bowl.
Note: There is a tough white core in the tomato when the stem is connected. You can remove this by poking down at an angle and cutting out a cone shaped piece. It is much easier to do this when the tomato is cold—rather than struggling with a slippery, hot tomato.
4. Place the vegetables—skin side up—on a lipped baking sheet.
Tip: A sheet of aluminum foil aids in cleanup.
Note: The juices released by the vegetables can burn onto the baking sheet making it very difficult to clean.
5. Place the tray of vegetables on the highest rack and broil them for 6-10 minutes.
Tip: You want most of the vegetable skins to look bubbly and blackened when you are done.
6. Set the tray aside to allow the vegetables to cool.
Tip: Alternatively, put the roasted chilies in a plastic bag. This steams the chilies and makes the skins easier to remove.
Note: As the tomatoes roast, their skins pull up from the cut line and you can just pinch and pull them off.
7. Turn the oven to BAKE at 300º F and lay 2 tortillas directly on the rack.
8. Toast the tortillas for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and evenly crisp.
9. Break up the tortillas into a standing blender and process into a fine powder.
Tip: Set aside and reserve.
10. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle remove the skins and chop them into your preferred size.
Tip: I cut mine into ¼ inch squares, but some might prefer larger pieces of chili pepper.
11. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and save them with any juices.
Tip: If the pan juices have not burned, pour any liquid remaining in the tray into the tomato bowl. If necessary you may use a splash of sherry or beer to deglaze the tray.
12. Chop and set aside the onions and celery.
Tip: I cut mine into ¼ inch dice, but some might prefer larger pieces.
13. Form the beef into one large patty.
Tip: The meat should form a disk half of an half an inch thick and 6-7 inches in diameter.
Note: You want the patty small enough to easy flip and get out of the pan. A patty the size of your cooking area is awkward.
14. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, over medium high heat, and brown the beef patty well on both sides.
Tip: I usually use corn oil for Mexican dishes, but I had run out. You may use any oil that you prefer.
Note: This is an America’s Test Kitchen trick. If you break up the meat and brown it in bits you will end up with hard, overcooked, meat rocks, before you get the good, flavorful browning that will make the dish taste “beefy.” By frying the meat in a patty you get the dark browned flavor of the Maillard reaction, but the meat in the center of the patty stays tender and moist.
15. Transfer the beef to a plate and spoon out all but two tablespoons of the grease from the pot.
Tip: Grease is flavor, however, due to Jan’s dietary restrictions I need to remove as much as possible. Use your own judgment.
Note: When the beef has cooled off enough, break it into small bite sized pieces.
16. Sauté the onions with the salt until starting to pick up some color, about 5-7 minutes.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to deglaze the pot.
Note: The salt speeds up the release of the moisture from the onions and helps them brown more quickly.
17. Add the celery and continue to sauté for another five minutes.
18. Add the Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapeño and bell peppers to the pot and continue sautéing for 3-5 more minutes.
19. Pull the vegetables to the sides and add the cilantro to the hole in the center.
20. Sauté the stems for 1-2 minutes and then pull them to the sides of the pot.
21. Add the garlic to the hole in the center of the vegetables and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Tip: If the pan is too dry, you may wish to add back a half tablespoon of oil/grease to the garlic.
22. Add the spices to the garlic and sauté the mixture for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant.
23. Add the tomatoes with any liquid to the pot and deglaze the bottom of the pot.
24. Stir in the beer and simmer the chili for 10-15 minutes.
25. Stir in the pinto beans, with their liquid, and add the beef to the pot.
26. Simmer the chili, for at least another 10-15 minutes, to meld the flavors.
27. Sprinkle the powdered tortillas over the chili and stir it in well.
28. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
29. Serve and garnish with the cilantro.
Note: While I like my chili strait from the pot, others like to add things to spice it up. You may provide bottles of your diners’ favorite hot sauce, or bowls of diced fresh onion, fresh chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, tortillas and/or tortilla chips on the side.