Championship chili for Christmas … or any time Essay

Championship chili for Christmas .

. . or any time Entrees that are hearty, easy to make in quantity, and just plaingood are ideal for holiday parties. Such a dish is this thick, tastyall-meat chili–the specialty of the house for Paula and Ray Fair ofRedmond, Washington (see page 79).

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The Fairs invite their guests to bring a selection of appetizersand desserts. Accompanied with pinto beans and a choice of condiments,the chili serves 20 to 30, depending on the amount of food guestscontribute. This chili merits the time and attention it requires. It keeps forseveral days; just reheat to serve. It’s also easy to keep warm soguests can help themselves at their own pace. The mellow flavor comes from the sauce, which is based on milddried red chilies. Beef chuck, trimmed of bones and most fat, simmersto tenderness in the rich, russet-colored sauce, along with a fragrantblend of herbs and spices, and generous amounts of onion and garlic.

Dried chilies are available in the Mexican food sections of mostsupermarkets, or in Mexican grocery stores. Ray Fair’s Championship Chili 30 to 35 (6 to 8 oz.) dried red New Mexico or Anaheim (California)chilies 1 1/2 quarts (4 cans, 12-oz. size) beer 15 to 16 pounds bone-in beef chuck Salad oil 8 large onions, chopped 2 heads (30 to 35 cloves) garlic, minced or pressed 3 tablespoons each chili powder and paprika 2 2/3 tablespoons ground cumin 2 tablespoons dry oregano leaves 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon cayenne 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1 quart regular-strength chicken broth or water 1 can (about 1 lb.) tomato sauce 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (optional) Water Salt Pinto beans (recipe follows) Condiments (suggestions follow) Rinse chilies; discard stems and seeds. Combine chilies and beerin a 4-to 5-quart pan. Bring to a boil: cover and simmer, stirringoccasionally, for 30 minutes.

Whirl chilies and cooking liquid in afood processor or blender until pureed. With a spoon, rub puree througha fine wire strainer (or force chilies through a food mill); discardresidue. Reserve puree. Meanwhile, cut the meat from bones.

Trim off and discard bones andmost of the fat; cut meat into 1/2-inch cubes. Place an 8-to 10-quart pan over mediumhigh heat. Add 1/4 cup oiland a fourth of the meat; cook uncovered, stirring frequently, untilmeat is well browned. Lift meat from pan with a slotted spoon and setaside. Repeat this step until all the meat has been browned. Add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Cook, uncovered, over mediumheat, stirring often until onion is limp, about 20 minutes. Add thechili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, sugar, coriander, cayenne, andallspice. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes; remove from heat. To the pan add reserved beef and any juices that have accumulated,the chili puree, broth, tomato sauce, and whiskey. Stir the chili toblend ingredients. Bring the chili to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, andsimmer, stirring occasionally; if needed, add water 1/4 cup at a time toprevent sticking. Cook until beef is very tender to bite, about 2hours.

Add salt to taste. Serve chili from cooking pan or a large tureen. If made ahead,cool, then cover and chill as long as 2 days. To reheat, stirfrequently over medium heat until chili is hot, about 20 minutes. Makes about 5 quarts chili: 20 generous 1-cup-size servings or 30smaller 2/3-cup-size servings. Ladle chili into individual bowls to topwith beans and condiments.

Pinto beans. Sort through 2 pounds dried pinto beans; discarddebris. Place beans in a 5-to 6-quart pan; rinse well with severalchanges of water, then drain. Add 4 quarts water to beans, cover, andbring to a rolling boil; set aside and let stand at least 1 hour or aslong as overnight.

Drain beans, discarding liquid. Add 4 quarts water, 1 teaspoonsalt, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat,cover, and simmer until beans are very tender to bite, about 1 hour.Add salt to taste. Drain beans and serve hot. If made ahead, chillbeans, covered, in cooking liquid up to 2 days; to serve, bring tosimmering and drain.

Makes 2 1/2 to 2 quarts: about 20 servings, 2/3 cup each, or 30serving, 1/3 cup each. Condiments. You will need 4 to 5 cups (1 to 1 1/4 lb.

) shreddedCheddar cheese, 4 to 6 cups sour cream, and 2 cups (about 24) slicedgreen onions. Present each in a separate dish to spoon over chili. Photo: What’s the verdict? Tasting determines just-rightseasoning of all-meat chili


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