Sunday, July 19, 2009
"Chili, meet sausage."
I had a bunch (4 pounds) of bulk sausage hanging out in my fridge from random sources. I pointed this out to my wife. Being the loving, thoughtful wife that she is, she pointed out that this is an odd problem to have.
"Most people don't have random sausage just laying around."
But I did. I also had to make something for a church meeting.
There was only one thing that came instantly to mind...
'How cool would it be to make chili out of all sausage?!?"
Here is how it went down.
Seeing as 'chili' connotes using chilies I figure it is the star of the show. This being the case I can see no reason to use pre-ground chili powder. A big reason is that red stuff you usually use is bland, stale, and not wholly chili powder. The best thing about making your own is how insanely simple it is. Seriously...you can do this.
For this batch we have (from left to right) Chipotles in adobo sauce (these go in later and don't get dried), New Mexico, Negro, California, and Poblano.
Here is what you do to them:
That's right, put their proverbial feet to (in my case) the proverbial fire. Put your burner on high, grab some tongs, hold the pepper over the heat 6 inches. Turn when it starts to smoke.
That simple. You don't want to scorch these things into charcoal, but do get them toasted well.
Rip the tops off and get any loose seeds out of the chilies. If you are particularly sensitive to heat you can get all the seeds out, but don't worry about it to much. Tear the chilies into a blender or food processor. As you can see I am doing all of mine at the same time.
This is what I ended up with. It smells and tastes even better than it looks. It stays fully flavorful for a few weeks if sealed well. I used almost all of this (over half a cup) though so I wont have it around for long. Once you start making your own you will never go back. You might also find yourself obsessing over the different characteristics of certain chilies and how to make your mix just right...but then you'll be able to join the club.
After browning the sausage I dumped it into the strainer and got most of the fat off it. I then added it back to the pot and threw in some diced onion and a head, yes head, of garlic. Seven tablespoons chili powder, three tablespoons cumin, two tablespoons crushed coriander.
I'll be honest, I just added this picture because I was so proud of myself. See, I HATE (yes, hate) chunks of warm tomato. Gross, sick, nasty, barf...you get the point. As a sauce I am a big fan. All I had was a can of whole tomatoes. With a little thought I figured my hand blender might work to puree the tomatoes right in the can. It was perfect. The entire 28 ounce can went in.
This would be a good point to get on a bit of a cooking soapbox in general and a chili soapbox in particular. If you want to cook better learn techniques, not recipes. Learn how to put flavors together and methods of cooking. Read recipes, but ALWAYS think outside of the box, even if you have all the ingredients. By forcing yourself to do this you will improve quickly. Taste everything and taste it often. Modify as needed. Savor food, both yours and others, however chic or ghetto, and figure out why it tastes good/bad. You cannot screw up with something like chili very easily. Just look at some award winning recipes and you'll soon figure out that there are some pretty crazy ideas. Most of them work. Be willing to fail.
Go big or go to McDonald's.
Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to put the soapbox away.
Yep, beer. Always add liquids that bring something to the party. Beer works incredibly well. This particular beer is my newest, a Belgian Sasion called 'I'm Mostly Belgian Myself'. I have yet to even drink one of these. I was bottling it before I made the chili and had some leftover. Beer, meet chili.
This is also when 5 chipotle chilies were diced and added to the mix along with a tablespoon or so of cider vinegar, a bunch of black pepper, and a cup of homemade pork stock.
And here is the bean addition. A pound of freshly cooked kidney beans. Beans are insane cheap dried, taste 1,000,459 times better than canned, and are really simple to make. Try it sometime and you'll thank me.
No, there is no parting shot. I had to rush off to the meeting. How was it? Thanks for asking. It was really good! I'll be trying homemade sausage next time...probably some smoky chorizo.
Cook some chili this summer. I'll be making a lot more of it. Go crazy or don't, but cook.