The Epicurean V

Originally posted in The Daily Pulse 09.13.04

This is actually a recipe I printed from January 19th, 2002 and it’s probably the most anal retentive recipe that I do. It’s because I am an INSANE Chili freak and I’ve been doing a search for the most perfect chili recipe since I was in my early teens. Here now is the recipe I finally have stuck with.

I love a good bowl of Chili. But in MN, you can’t get ingredients that are up to my level of quality. But I try to have a “bowl of red” whenever I get the chance. Usually at restaurants I am left very disappointed. The meat to sauce consistency is very crucial, although I know it makes me sound anal.

Anyways, for those of you in a better climate, here’s the personal recipe I use for homemade Chili.


6 dried red New Mexican chilies. Make sure stems and seeds have been removed.
3 cloves of garlic. I actually use about 6 or half a bulb, which ever is less, but when I make this for others, I know they tend to like a LOT less garlic than I do. :-)
1 teaspoon ground Mexican Oregano. Make sure it really is Mexican Oregano. There is a very distinct taste difference.
1/2 pound of pork. Make sure this is from a roast or chops, and that the meat is something you’d be willing to eat in a separate dish. You’ll see why later.
1 to 1 &1/2 pounds VERY lean ground beef. Fat ruins the chili consistency.

You’ll notice I SPECIFICALLY state New Mexican chilies. Why? Because they are simply the best on the planet. If you want me to be EVEN MORE specific, make sure they are from the Northern part of the state. Be warned that these are spicier and the taste is far more concentrated than normal chilies. Just buying chilies in your supermarket lack the total flavor one finds in these.

You might notice I left out beans as well. Beans aren’t in REAL chili. That’s an Americanization. But if you want beans in your chili (And I do usually put them in) you want very dry pinto beans. DON’T buy canned beans. They need to be dry. The best pinto beans come from Colorado and you should try and get beans 2-3 months after they have been picked, as they have the best flavor and coloring.

Speaking of coloring, you can tell how could pintos are by their coloring. They should be light in color and have light spots. The lighter the spots the better the beans are. If a bean’s spots are dark they are old. YEARS old. Don’t eat them and yell at the supermarket for carrying them.

Final tips on beans. Don’t soak them in water. Don’t get them near water. Water destroys the flavor of beans. They should only encounter water when you wash them quickly and when they are to be cooked. Soaking beans in right out.

Anyways, I’m sure you want the recipe now right?

Start by putting the chilies in a very small pot that has just enough very hot (not boiling) water that it covers the chilies. But no more. After 15-30 minutes (the chilies should be limp and look somewhat hydrated now) take the chilies out and place them in a blender. The container should be nearly full, about 3/5th of the container. Drop in the garlic and sprinkle in the Mexican Oregano.

If you’re a salt person, here’s where you put a pinch in, but I think you’ll find the meal delicious without it.

Blend the mixture until you have an orange-red mixture. This should take 2-3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan. Slowly add the pork now. Cook the concoction covered on low heat for 2-3 hours. You can also cook it uncovered if you prefer. If you do this however, remember to add water every now to the mix so the consistency stays correct. The mix should always look thicker than soup, but thinner than stew.

At this point, remove the pork and save it for another meal. The pork is simply to add its flavor to the broth. (The Emeril fan in me showing I suppose). The pork will also be infused with the chili broth’s flavor and will make an excellent meal on its own.

Now comes the part that may throw you for a loop. Put the sauce you have made in the fridge and let it cool. Check often and as fat begins to congeal on the top, scoop it out. Removing the fat is a huge part of not only making this meal healthy, but making sure the flavor isn’t ruined.

While this is going on, you can start to cook the ground beef. Season it to your liking (I mainly use red and black pepper, a little garlic and some oregano.) and saute it until there is no pink left.

Combine the sauce and beef and let it simmer covered for 30-45 minutes. This allows the meat and sauce to blend flavors together properly.

You’ll know your end product has come out perfect by the consistency. It should appear as a medium thick soup, but the concoction retains it’s form and flavor. If the sauce has gotten too thin, the meat will be strong. If the sauce is too thick, you will be overpowered by the strength of the chilies.

Now you’re ready to enjoy an authentic bowl of Southwestern style chili. Feel free to do so…but don’t let me know. Damned Minnesota and its lack of adequate produce distresses me enough as it is. :-(