Welcome, Spring! Have Some…Chili?

Today has been the nicest day in Madison so far this year by a long shot. As I type this, it’s 79 degrees outside, and we’ve got the windows open to let some spring into this joint. Earlier, we took a walk to the terrace and sat for awhile looking out at the lake (the THAWED lake!!) and enjoying not being cold. It’s gorgeous. It’s springy. So what are we having for dinner to celebrate this excellent weather? Chili. Naturally.

I don’t know if you realize this, but we’re kind of a big deal when it comes to chili. We hosted a chili cook off back in November (you know, when it was actually chili weather) and although we really tried our best to be gracious hosts, I’m afraid we creamed the competition and won in a landslide. This chili is the bomb. It’s just that simple.

On the off chance that anyone else feels like ringing in spring with a big, steaming bowl of comfort food, here’s how it goes:

CHILI (Adapted from a Southern Living recipe)

  • 2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans beans–whatever floats your boat
  • 3 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 beer
  • A little less than 2 c beef broth
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 t cayenne (I back off this a little, since I add the jalapeno with the seeds)
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t hot sauce

Toss the meat, onion, garlic, and jalapeno into a large pot with a little bit of olive oil and cook it up, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned.

Now, you dump. Dump the tomato sauce, dump the beer, dump the broth, dump the tomato paste, dump the chiles. Add all the spices, give it a good stir, and walk away.

The following three hours will be torture. Your house will start to smell like heaven, provided heaven smells like chili. All you’ll want to do is eat the chili, but you can’t! You mustn’t! It needs time to get acquainted with itself and to reduce to a thick, rich, fragrant stew. The good news is that you can sneak a taste every time you stir the pot, which should happen only as frequently as you need to sneak a taste. After about two hours, go ahead and add the beans.

After three hours, your chili will finally, finally be ready. Wipe your drool, grab a bowl, and fill it up. We sometimes serve this over rice. Sour cream and cheese only make it more excellent.

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About mbdevilbiss

Until 2009, I never really thought much about Wisconsin. When I did, it was usually in the context of silent pep talks I'd give myself as I walked from the Metro station to my downtown D.C. office on blustery January mornings. "This isn't so bad," I'd tell myself. "Just imagine if you were in...Wisconsin!" *shiver* It wouldn't make me any warmer, but I could finish the 12-minute walk secure in the knowledge that I lived so, so far away from Canada. And then, one Saturday in early June, I went to a cookout and met a boy. He was wonderful and he was also moving to Madison, WI, to begin a PhD program in August. After a year of emails, phone calls, and biweekly visits, we shoved the last of my belongings into a jam-packed moving truck and headed west. As of October 9, 2010, I was an Accidental Wisconsonite. I'm no Sconnie, and I'll never be able to claim that prestigious status, but I'm loving life here so far. My blog is a place for writing about this life, and I hope you enjoy my Midwestern adventure as much as I have been.
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