There may only be one food that elicits the passion and snobbery that BBQ fanatics feel about their craft and that food is: Chili. It was only a few days ago my good friend, a business partner Barry Martin mentioned the Sweet Potato Chili his wife had made for dinner. By the reactions he got on Facebook you would have thought he had eaten ketchup on his rib-eye steak. It seems, for some chili makers, that there is only one type of chili and that’s a big bowl of Texas Red.
If you are a chili snob, not that there’s anything wrong with that, you’ll probably want to avoid The Ultimate Guide to Making Chili: Easy and Delicious Recipes to Spice Up Your Diet because it’s just going to rile you up. If you’re a person who loves chili of any kind or want to learn more about making chili and chiles in particular then this cookbook is one to add to your collection.
All cookbooks are not created equal. They all have recipes but they don’t all explain in detail how to make the dish. Turning out a great meal is more than just putting a bunch of ingredients together and serving them on a plate. To really turn out a great dish you need to have at least a basic understanding of how and why the ingredients work together. In The Ultimate Guide to Making Chili, Kate Rowinski has written a book that is not just filled with recipes she has put together a book that explain the hows and whys of making chili.
For home cooks, like me, who don’t really know a great deal about chiles the books starts out with a great introduction to the Chile Pepper. Starting with a chart on the Scoville Scale of a few chile peppers and ending with an explanation of commercially bought chili powders Kate provides just about every basic knowledge a budding chili head needs to know. Whether it’s growing, freezing, drying or grinding chilis the book provides enough information to make you dangerous when it comes to cooking chili.
After learning about chili peppers you might think you’re ready to whip up a pot of chili but it’s not quite time. Kate next takes you through selecting your equipment and meat, making stock and gathering spices. She includes a section on (chili fanatics hide your eyes, you’ve been warned) beans.
And now you’re ready to start making chili.
With chapters on “Competition Chili,” Traditional Chili,” “Home-style Chili” you’ll have enough recipes to keep your chili cravings under control for months. And when you include the “Chili Gone Wild” chapter, with recipes like White Shrimp Chili or Sausage and Seafood Chili you’ll be able to whip up a bowl of chili that should not only give you the comfort food feeling you want, but will also tingle your taste buds. Kate also includes chapters on Chili Leftovers, Side Dishes and Deserts.
I like this cookbook, it will keep me in chili for the rest of this Winter. I’m sure I’ll come up with a favorite but until I do there are some chili gone wild recipe calling my name.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into inch cubes
- 1 large onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons masa harina
- 3 tablespoons Pendery’s Original Chile Blend
- 1 tablespoon ground roasted cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- A few grinds of black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- Place oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and saute the beef until it is evenly cooked but not brown. Add the onion and saute until softened. Add garlic and masa harina, stirring for about a minute.
- Add chile blend, cumin, oregano, beef stock, tomato puree, salt, and peppers.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring and tasting occasionally. During the last half hour, adjust the seasonings to your taste.