“Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili” Last words of Kit Carson, American Frontiersman (1809-1868)
My eternal quest for the quintessential bowl of that historic mainstay of Texan cowboy cuisine recently brought me to Jimmy’s Saloon in Newport, Rhode Island. There Miss Beverly Blaise, “The Contessa of the Con Carne” makes her magic utilizing the traditional trail ingredients. The end result is nothing less than piquant perfection!
But chili, like most concoctions at the hand of man, is subject to a bit of interpretation–and ultimately a whole lot of competition–giving rise to that great national culinary contest known as the “cook-off.”
I have not been lucky enough to attend one of those splendid events in the southwestern United States, but on a couple of occasions I’ve enjoyed the yearly Super Bowl Sunday chili competition held at Pearly Baker’s Alehouse in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was there that my good friend Don Garrido first introduced me to his own legendary method of taming the capsicum pepper plant. And like all fabled recipes there were more than a couple of surprises in the mix–one of them being SPAM. So clean out your old footlocker, or just reach into your Carnival Cruise Line survival kit, because Don Garrido has agreed to share his epicurean secrets with the readers of American Public House Review.
4 dried chipotle chilies
2 dried ancho chilies
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 ¼ pounds chorizo, casings removed and meat coarsely chopped
1 can SPAM, cubed into ½ in cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1- 15 oz can garbanzos (or black beans), rinsed and drained
1- 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
1- 15 ½ oz can corn niblets, drained
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce with garlic and onions
1- 12 oz beer (or ale)
Place the chilies in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. When soft, seed and stem the chilies. Puree the chilies with the barbecue sauce in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven sauté the onions in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and SPAM and cook over medium heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Drain off most of the fat. Add the chili puree, garlic, garbanzos, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, Nutella, instant coffee, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beer, as needed, to keep the chili moist, but not wet.
(A couple of Recommended Beer Pairings)