I am always looking for something new to cook and share with you. This time of year is steeped in tradition, so I thought I would share an old standard or is it a gold standard? chili recipe. I make this every fall, around Halloween, to coincide with carving pumpkins. This year the flu bedeviled my youthful carver, so the pumpkins remain faceless (for now). But the chili was made. This is not your run-of-the-mill chili, and it’s free form, a dash of this and a dash of that — my favorite way to cook. It is a very loose recipe. Funny, I almost entitled this the Scarlet Letter Chili. This chili has lots of reds in it, two kinds of paprika, red-hot jalapeños*, red wine, two versions of tomatoes and two kinds of chili powder. This soup/stew is all about layers. Stack the flavors on top of each other, and let them marry. Each addition adds a little complexity to the pot that makes it taste memorable the first night, even better for lunch the next day and still fine, even after a sabbatical in the freezer. This chili holds up because of its sturdy structure. Prep all your vegetables ahead of time, and this comes together quickly, just in time to carve some pumpkins, eat some candy corn and answer the bell heralding this year’s trick or treaters.
Last year, I was cooking Stuffed Chiles.
2-3 carrots, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1-2 shallots, sliced thinly
1-3 jalapeños or serrano peppers
1-2 tsp brown chipotle chili powder (hot and smoky)
1-2 tsp sweet Paprika
1-2 tsp Hungarian Hot Paprika
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp oregano
1 cup red wine
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 small potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1 32-oz can of diced tomatoes
1-3 cans of beans (black, white, kidney)
1-2 cups corn (canned or frozen)
1. Saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic in olive oil until slightly softened. Add chile powder (I start with 1/4 cup), jalapeños or other chiles, and all the spices. Stir for about a minute until all vegetables are coated. Add the red wine and let it cook down by about 1/3. The mixture should thicken.
2. Add stock, potatoes and tomatoes. Let the soup come to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are al dente. Don’t overcook the potatoes.
3. Add beans, corn, and sundried tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chili sit. Adjust seasoning. Add salt and pepper, more jalapeños or whatever you like. Sriracha anyone?
4. The best part of this is the additions. Lay out a spread for your diners to adorn the bowl with the following:
Ricotta Salata (a hard cheese similar to queso fresco but with a sharper bite)
Sour Cream or Creme Fraîche
- The broth makes this more soup-like and better able to hold all the add-ons.
- Sweet paprika is also called Pimenton de la Vera
- The jalapeños I posted below may be imposters*. I bought them as starts. They are hot and red, so they worked.
- I don’t simmer the chili for too long, so the vegetables don’t turn to mush. Turn off the heat and let the chili sit in the heat helps preserve the vegetables’ integrity. They become honest and upright citizens.
- A squeeze of lime brightens the bowl.