Well, now you've got me thinking about food. And on Superbowl Sunday, what more appropriate food is there to talk about than chili? I've spent the last two years perfecting my recipe, and while I don't think I'm there, I think I made some serious advances in my last batch. I love anything you can cook in one pot, start to finish - Soups, stews, Chocolate Oatmeal Shadoobies (recipe to follow). And chili, of course, falls into this category.
Everyone has their chili preferences: What kind of beans and how many, chunky or smooth, to cumin or not to cumin - I could go on. Chili is as personal as your iTunes playlist. And, like music, it will warm you on a cold winter's day.
I always make a giant batch in my ridiculously oversized stock pot. It stores like a dream, so why not make enough to last a while? I start with 3lbs. of ground beef (though I'm considering a switch to the more heart-healthy ground turkey) and a large onion, chopped. Let those cook up. Don't drain the grease - Invest in an extra lean meat and leave the liquid for flavour. I stir in 4 cans of crushed tomatoes and a large can of tomato paste. Finely chop two jalapeno peppers, 3 or 4 cups of carrots, a few stalks of celery, a couple peppers for colour (green, red, yellow: your choice!) and your beans: I use one large can of red kidney and a can of white. Sometimes I buy a bean medley just for fun! Also, a can of chick peas.
It should be looking mighty delicious by now. Salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, some red chili flakes if you like. I also tend to go a bit nutty when I'm cooking. I believe the following three ingredients rarely ruin anything: Allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. So, I add a bit of each of those. Grate fresh ginger root right into the pot. Oh, you should be tasting often to see how you're doing.
Now, we need to rewind a bit. In my most recent chili incarnation I added two new things I'd been thinking about for a while and was so successful, they are now, like beans, just a basic ingredient. Extra spicy chorizo sausage and chocolate. Trust me. I did not come up with this idea, people have been adding cocoa and coffee and beer and crazy things for centuries. But I do suggest you try. Leave the sausage a bit chunky and we're talking 1 to 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Let 'em melt, stir 'em in. The chocolate adds a special something.
Let it all hang out for a couple hours.
I like to serve chili with grated cheese (cheddar and parmesan), sour cream, and a variety of bread options: crusty breads, flatbreads, bread sticks, crackers. Put a stack of bowls by the stove and let your guests help themselves.