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Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Comfort Food Series: Momma's Torcher Texas Chili

I don’t know about you, but when the temperatures start to cool and football season starts, I crave some soul-warming chili.  And not your everyday tomato, ground beef, bean concoction.  I crave my Momma’s Torcher Texas Chili.  Hearty and filling with ample heat kick, this chili won’t leave you hungry.  

There’s something about tailgating and chili that just seem to go hand-in-hand.  You’re getting ready for your favorite team to meet its rival.  You’ve had a few beers.  The smells of the stadium food vendors are wafting into the parking lot and you feel that familiar rumble in your midsection.  You’re suddenly starving and only something hearty and homemade will do.  In steps the well-prepared tailgater with a big pot of chili heating up on the portable grill.  You’ve been saved from tailgating catastrophe!  Bowls of piping hot chili are passed out and everyone gobbles in gastronomic ecstasy.   

Surely you have found yourself in a situation like the one above.  Well, you can be that well-prepared tailgater!  Or church luncheon goer.  Or family picnic attendee.  Or screw all that, and just make this chili for your family.  Either way, you will be the talk of the picnic or dinner table when you serve them my Momma’s Torcher Texas Chili.

There are as many chili recipes as there are chili lovers; and just as many opinions on how to serve that chili.  My family always served chili in true Irish fashion, beside whipped potatoes.  I never knew this wasn’t the norm until I went to college.  The creamy whipped potatoes gave a balance to the spicy, acidic chili offering a delicious hearty meal.  I also like to top mine with a grated sharp cheddar cheese.  Some people like crackers.  Others swear by sour cream.  To each his own. 

Spice and heat are often a part of a chili recipe, but this aspect of the cuisine doesn’t have to scare you away if you are heat sensitive.  The recipe below makes a medium spicy chili.  To reduce the kick, make sure you leave out the ribs and seeds of the jalapeno and reduce the amount of hot pepper sauce.  Do the opposite for a fiery chili, keeping ribs and seeds and increasing hot pepper sauce.  Or, if you’re my beautiful cousin, add a little sriracha. (I know you’re going to do it!)

Momma’s Torcher Texas Chili
2 ½ lbs cubed beef stew meat
Beer to marinate (1-2 bottles, I prefer a lager but just about any beer will do)
½ cup cooking oil
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 ¾ cups tomato sauce
5 ½ cups pinto beans, cooked and drained (2 cans)
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup chopped jalapeno
5 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

Marinate beef in beer for at least 8 hours.  Drain beef.  Pat dry on paper towels.  Brown in hot oil in a large kettle.  Add green pepper, onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans.  Cook on medium heat for 1 hour.  Add spices, jalapeno peppers and hot sauce.  Cook two hours longer.  Yield about 4 quarts.

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