Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rainy Day Cookin', episode II

The weatherman finally got one right the other day.

We got a few inches of snow here at the compound, but the freezing level quickly shot up to 1500' and the fall rains began in earnest. Confronted with a morass of icy glop everywhere and no signs of good weather on the horizon, we did what anyone would do under the circumstances.

We made a big-ass pot of chili.

Now there are folks all over the world who, upon hearing you are fixin' to make a pot of the red, will gladly offer unsolicited advice and insights into family traditions passed down over the years to make the "best" chili, and frankly, most of them aren't worth the spoon used to stir it with.

Chili is chiles, meat, beer, salt, cumin, and masa. Anything else is purely window dressing. Yes, people...even beans.

The Wife and us have been going around that last point for nigh on 14 years now. Matter of fact, we thought we were going to have to break it off early in the relationship when she confessed she liked her red with beans. We eventually got around to accepting her for her other outstanding qualities and mutually elected to keep "bean-gate" a closed topic. She made and ate her chili, we made and ate ours, and the Neil Creek Estate was all the happier for it.

Recently, though, we have rediscovered the charms of the haba negra, the lowly black bean. Excellent in most any preparation, these somehow insidiously found their way into our latest creation...much to the delight of the Wife.

We didn't die, our heads didn't explode, and we didn't develop the overwhelming urge to vote straight ticket GOP, so apparently, beans in chili are ok.

So without further ado, we give you a sparsely narrated look into a bowl of chili.

Dried pasilla chiles or chiles negros, snipped up and marinatin' in hot water...you've heard the phrase, "Add water, makes it own sauce"? You're lookin' at it.

Roasting chiles is probably the best way to skin them, and also adds a twist to the taste of most chiles. Chiles poblanos are the pepper of choice for our chili, as they have a nice combination of heat and flavor. Red bells also go in, but they don't get ground into the paste, they get chopped and added later. Smitty...these next two photos are for you.

When the pasillas are rehydrated, toss 'em in the blender with the roasted poblanos, some cumin, a little salt, and a bit of the chile liquor. Still too thin? Add beer.

Ok, so onions and bacon also go in a decent pot of red. Not all the time, but when Pig is the meat of choice, bacon makes a wonderful smoky statement that you can't get unless you cook in a grubby dutch oven over an open wood fire...which ain't a bad thing, but it messes up the kitchen somethin' fierce.

Did we mention beer? Nothin' says cheap Mexican beer like la bala de plata.

Add the paste, stir in some...yeah, some black beans...dammit. Add some chopped cilantro stems and throw in the oven for 3 hours at 350°

Put the leftovers on the porch to marry up some more, then reheat and repeat until gone.

It may get us banned from Terlingua, but it makes the Wife happy...truth is, we don't mind it so much either.

1 comment:

Fly Fish Chick said...

suddenly I wish it were snowing here in austin.