Carl’s World Class Casa Style Chili

Superstition TrailI have won and placed in several chili cook-offs using a basic recipe. I tweak it a little now and then. I haven’t made a batch in half a decade – in my mid-40’s I developed an intolerance for beef. I would go into anaphylactic shock after eating anything containing beef. Not fun.

Living in the southwest, beef is a staple. Fortunately, there is a lot of grass-fed, organic beef available. Restaurants offer organic beef in their hamburgers. Organic ground beef and chuck is available at our local supermarket.I decided to take the risk three years ago, at a local cafe, to order their hamburger made with grass-fed beef. Grass-fed means the cows were allowed to roam free, and were not fed GMO corn-meal and plastic pellets and chicken and pork waste.  Yes, I said plastic pellets – cows raised traditionally in crowded pens and force-fed corn meal and injected with steroids and antibiotics and growth hormones are also fed plastic pellets to aid in digestion of a food type that they are not designed to ingest.

Since that day I have eaten a lot of organic beef with no ill effects. It is the crap that is sold by your local supermarket or used in crap-food franchises that contains residual traces of drugs that cause problems.

True, organic beef costs twice as much as the cheap shit on the supermarket shelf. But, we do not eat beef on a regular basis anyway – it is not healthy. It is a treat every two or three weeks, and organic beef tastes so much better than the mediocre mass-produced garbage that we as a society have been conditioned to eat.

The first time we grilled organic burgers, Liz and I both agreed, “This is what hamburger used to taste like.” The flavor brought back memories from my youth. Even fast-food burgers from the 60’s and 70’s tasted better than today – conglomerate farms have pumped every imaginable chemical and drug into cows to maximize output.

But enough of that rant. It is time that I dust off my chili recipe, and make up a batch. This might be my birthday present to myself.

Carl’s World Class Casa Style Chili

2 Lbs. Beef chuck, cubed (1 – 1½” cubes)
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 tblspsns vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 bottle (12oz) beer (I prefer a good microbrew for this, change the brew and it changes the chili. However, even Sludgeweiser works, and it is much better than drinking it.)
2 cups beef stock (boullion cubes will do the trick for this)
4 Jalapeno peppers (or Habeneros for more kick) with the seeds and stems removed, sliced in half
3 teaspoons ground cumin – (cumin is critical, without cumin you will not get that traditional chili taste.)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 tablespoons blended chili powder
1/4 cup Masa (or cornstarch if you are desperate)
1 tablespoon paprika (Paprika gives is a nice red color, and heat.  This spice is missing from many chili recipes, and I encourage chili-heads to incorporate it into their own recipes. But be cautious with the quantities, too much can easily destroy a good batch.)

Brown the meat and onions in the oil in a cast iron skillet. You want the onions to become caramelized, and the beef to be cooked through.

Add the tomato sauce, beer, beef stock, chilis, cumin, garlic, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the chili powder. Simmer the chili over low heat for two hours, until the meat is tender.

To thicken, make a thin paste of the masa and water. Quickly stir into the chili. If this is done slowly, it will lump.

Add the remaining chili powder and paprika. It is the timing of the spices that creates the nuances, if you added all of the spices at the beginning, you would not get the layers of flavor that you obtain by adding in stages. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the Jalepenos (save the peppers and eat them later, they are delicious; but the skins do nothing to enhance the texture of the finished chili) and serve.

This recipe makes 6 servings. If done right, the heat of the chili with sneak up on you. Open up a good Mexican lager and enjoy! You don’t want a robust-flavored beer to compete with the chili, save the craft brews for dessert!

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