Make Chili To Take The Chill Off The New Year

Food & Drink

When I was thinking of a recipe to start the new year off, I thought for a second about the basic trend of trying to restrict your diet after indulging, but I don’t know anyone who has had success with that plan and kept a happy disposition.  My approach is to make delicious soups and stews and one-bowl meals. And that means that this time of year, I start making chili again. I love all kinds of chili with all kinds of ingredients but my favorite chili is a Texas-style Bowl of Red and that means no beans!

I like to use 2 kinds of ground beef, chuck for flavor and sirloin for balance. After that a bottle of beer and 3 cans of Rotel are my secret ingredients. Rotel is a brand of spiced diced tomatoes, and green chiles and comes in 10 different styles including a “zesty” original, mild, hot and my favorite variety—fire-roasted. 

If you are new to Rotel, it is a staple of Texas cooking. It is best known for making “Rotel” dip with Velvetta.  Rotel [queso] dip and chips is some of the best drinking food known to man, but I keep cans of Rotel on hand for gumbo and chili and other hearty soups. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, you can use a 14.5-ounce can of chopped or diced (fire-roasted) tomatoes and a small 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. 

I used to set a big cast-iron Dutch oven on the stovetop and let it simmer all day, but now I make my chili in a pressure cooker. Twenty minutes on high pressure and it has the texture of chili that has simmered all day. I like to serve it with sour cream—or crème fraiche if you have some leftover from your holiday celebrations—and chives or grated sharp cheddar cheese—and when I really need some comfort, or a stick-to-your- ribs meal, I serve it as Chili-Mac—a generous scoop on top of homemade mac ‘n cheese. Because there aren’t any beans in this chili, you could also use it to top a chili dog or even a bowl of noodles as they do in Cincinnati.

However you serve it, it is delicious and all you need is fresh warm cornbread to make it a meal.

Texas-Style Bowl of Red (Chili)

Makes about 10 cups

1          pound ground sirloin

1          pound ground chuck

2          large yellow onions, finely chopped

1          12-ounce bottle of your favorite beer

3          10 oz. cans Rotel tomatoes with Chiles—I like the Fire-Roasted Rotel

6          ounces tomato paste

1          tablespoon freshly ground cumin 

1          tablespoon freshly ground oregano leaves

1          tablespoon dehydrated garlic

2          teaspoons kosher salt or more to taste

1          tablespoon Ancho Chile powder

2          teaspoons  New Mexican Chili Powder

¼-1/2   teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on heat tolerance

            Cornbread or Tortilla chips as an accompaniment 

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or a pressure cooker, brown meat and onions for about 15 minutes or until onions are translucent.  

Add beer, Rotel tomatoes and tomato paste and stir.  Stir and simmer for a few minutes, then add spices.  Stir thoroughly.  Cover pot and cook on a low heat for 2 hours.  If using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 20 minutes and let it release naturally. 

If cooking on the stovetop, stir occasionally to break up the pieces of tomato and make sure all the spices are well incorporated.

If chili is too thick, additional water or beer may be added, but add slowly and cautiously because you want it to be thick.  

Serve with a slice of warm cornbread or tortilla chips and extra hot sauce for the heat freaks on the side.

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