Sunday, May 02, 2010

Two bowls of chili

Friday and Saturday I served a chili and sweet cornbread double header at separate venues. One mild, the other hot, the chilies served different groups, each with its own tolerance for heat.

The residents at work enjoyed a mild bowl of red served over steamed rice Friday evening. Sweet bell peppers (in place of the hot peppers in the recipe) helped to moderate the heat level.

With varying acceptance for spicy food, I find that it necessary to rein in the heat level for residents. A ladle of chili over steamed rice added an extra cooling effect. A dollop of sour cream cools the chili as well.

I changed the game Saturday at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway. I welcomed the opportunity to dial-up the spice level of the chili. A crowd of hearty eaters eagerly waited for the dinner bell to ring at noon.

Deep green poblano chili peppers stood in for the sweet bells. While not known to bust the Scoville scale, poblano chilies do add a nice even layer of spiciness to the dish.

Instead of using the commercial chili powder blend, I opted for a fifty-fifty blend of brightly colored ancho chili powder and dark brown chili negro. Ancho is the dried form of the poblano, while the pasilla becomes chili negro when dried.

Both groups loved the chili, each for their own reasons. To the residents, it was a refreshing change from the regular menu. The engine house crew enjoyed a break from work and the chance to eat a bowl of spicy chili with cornbread.

"What great chili!" said El Dorado Western volunteer Bill Rodgers. "I loved it. We gotta make it a staple in our work parties at the rail park."


This version of my chili recipe is tweaked slightly from the one published in February 2009.

5 pounds beef chuck roast, diced
2 large onion, chopped
3 green poblano or Anaheim chilies, chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
5 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 ounces chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons paprika
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart beef broth
2-tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 (28-ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Brown diced chuck roast in a 14-inch deep Dutch oven or 12-quart heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions, chili peppers and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika and flour to meat mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes while stirring to develop flavor.

Add beef broth and crushed tomatoes to meat mixture. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Add additional beef broth as needed to thin chili to desired consistency. Add beans and heat.

This recipe makes about 20 (8-ounce) portions. The final yield depends on the amount of liquid added to the chili.

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