Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Smoky, spicy, meaty and thick - get your spoon ready!

This afternoon, the kitchen had a fantastic aroma that drifted through the rest of the house while a big pot of this Beef, Black Bean and Chorizo Chili was simmering away for tonight's dinner. I would normally make half a recipe this size, but chili only gets better with age and freezes so well. This will take care of our lunches next week since the next couple of days will be filled with Thanksgiving goodies and leftovers!

Thick and very hearty, this chili is infused with a smoky heat and filled with chunky pieces of beef and sliced chorizo sausage. The heat comes from a few chopped chipotles in adobo - besides adding depth, this also brings quite a spicy punch. We used four, but you may want to drop it down to 2 or 3 if you are after a little heat. You could also scrape out the seeds from them before chopping to tone down the heat level.

Beef, Black Bean and Chorizo ChiliWhen you begin browning the meat, be sure that you do this in batches - if you add too much at once, the juices that come out will take over the pan and the meat will begin to steam and not get the caramelization you are after. The original recipe did not call for this next step, but I believe it is pretty important - I like to add the tomato paste, once the onions and garlic have softened, and give it a chance to toast for a minute or two before continuing on. Doing this intensifies the paste and adds another layer of flavor. Bringing a slight tang and freshness are red wine and fresh lime juice added with the rich beef broth and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. While this chili is not very soupy to start with, the addition of masa harina (corn flour) adds body and a viscous quality - you can use fine cornmeal though if you don't have a bag in your pantry already. If you like a chili that is on the thinner side, during the first hour of cooking, cover it completely or half way to keep some of the liquid from evaporating.

We did use a mixture of pinto, red kidney and black beans - feel free to use your favorite combination of beans for chili. Top as you see fit - add some cheddar, a dollop sour cream (good for cooling down the spice) or green onions - however, it is flavorful enjoy to be completely enjoyed all by itself.

Beef, Black Bean and Chorizo Chili