Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to Make my Homemade Chili

The powder


Here is my home made chili from powder on up.
We make the powder only two or three times a year as it is a long process and will keep for a few months at a time.
First take two pounds of each of the following types of dried peppers. You can find these at a Mexican grocery or many other ethnic food stores:

  • cascabel
  • guajillo (some times called)ancho or pasilla (some times called)chilaca
  • Chili California (some times called) new Mexico (some times called)Anaheim
  • 2-4 chipoltles (not pounds)


There are many many many different kinds and every type seems to have at least two names. You will have to determine the heat and flavor of whatever you find. You want a roughly equal ratio of dried medium horn shaped chilies like new Mexico, leathery fruity chilies like guajillo and some like pasilla that are in-between. The more kinds you can mix in, the better. Add a chipoltle for each pound of chilies you are using. If you like heat add serrano or chili de arbol. We normally add the heat later using canned chilies because it is more precise.
Now comes the most time consuming part of this dish. Remove the seeds and ribs from all the dried peppers. Do this by grabbing the pepper in one hand by the stem and by the fruit in the other. Gently push the stem into the fruit. Then shake the seeds out into a bowl to get out as many seeds as you can. now with a finger slowly break the fruit open and feel around the inside of it to see if there are any tuff bits that feel like a rope or string and pull these off gently.
This part usually takes me an hour or more depending on the size of the batch we are making. The longer peppers can be cut open with a small pair of scissors but you can also use your fingers.
Once you have all the seeds and ribs removed now the fun starts. In a large food processor bowl put as much of the peppers you can and close the lid tightly making sure it is nearly airtight and not going to leak. This is important as the powder has been known to clear a house if it is allowed to get airborne. Slowly start pulsing the food processor and adding more of the peppers when the bowl is emptier. Be very careful when you open the bowl as the powder may still be flying around in the bowl. I always tap the sides of the bowl firmly and then let it sit for a good few minutes to make sure the powder does not fly out when I open the bowl. Chili pepper in the eyes and nose can really hurt so please is careful. Do not use the food processor feed tube while the unit is running to add peppers as that is asking for a world of hurt.
Once you have all the peppers ground up fairly coarsely add toasted cumin and Mexican oregano. Note to toast the cumin put about 2 tablespoons of seeds in a dry pan on medium heat and listen to them, when you hear them start to crackle they are done. Note Mexican oregano is not the same herb we know as oregano it can be found in Mexican groceries wile buying your dry peppers.
Run the processor one more time to mix everything and leave it sit until you’re ready to add it to the chili. This is when you can put it in a jar and come back a few weeks or so later to use it. However note the fresher you use it the better it tastes as there are no preservatives it does lose its zing.

Basic meat chili


And now for the meat version of the final dish. Each year mike and I make both a meat and veggie version of this dish for our annual goalball tournament. It’s a way to say “good playing and now let’s eat!”
We normally use about 10 or 12 lb. of regular ground beef for the goalball crew but you may not have about 30 or 40 mouths to feed. So I will give this as a one lb. dish and you can adjust it as you see fit.
I have also used chunked stew beef and a few different kinds of sausage in this and it all works great. One of my favorite additions is Ukrainian kielbasa. Do not use lean or very lean meat as the chili will taste saw dusty and not handle the long cooking.
Brown the meat in a large pot stirring frequently. Do this on medium to low heat there is no rushing this dish the slower it cooks the better. Note the way the meat feels against your spoon and try and tell if the meat is getting harder against it. The meat will first feel almost rubbery against the spoon and will start to feel more like little pebbles the browner it gets. Also use your ears to listen to the sound of the meat cooking. When the heat first touches the meat it will make a sizzle sound and as it browns it will start to crack more and slow down. You do want a crackle sound but not too long or your meat will be dry. You will also smell the meat browning.
Once you have browned the meat add one large onion per three pounds of meat cut in to small pieces to the pot and keep stirring. When you feel them soften it’s time for the next step. You will also notice the smell of the onion change from sharp to sweet. Add a couple cloves of garlic per pound and a cup of the chili powder for every 5 pounds of meat. When it starts to get really fragrant it’s time to add the sauce and wait for a really long time.
We use a few different kinds of sauce that might not be available in your area. It’s best to experiment with what kind of sauce you’d like to use and don’t give up if the first try tastes wrong. You want to use a sauce that has more vegetables than just tomatoes. A nice spicy Mexican tomato sauce with fresh jalapenos goes very well. We use “El Pato” brand Mexican salsa de chilies fresco or jalapeno salsa. A 27 oz can and half a can of chili di arbol in adobo sauce is enough for 10lbs of meat. A 4 oz. Can of the salsa de chilies fresco or Mexican tomato sauce is fine for regular batches. In this recipe tomatoes are a seasoning like the peppers. You aren’t adding a huge amount of sauce. I think some people even use store-bought Salsa but I don’t.
Let the pot simmer for at least an hour before tasting it further. Don’t add too much of the chili di arbol in adobo as you can’t take it out if it’s over spicy but you can always add more. You can adjust the heat upwards, but downwards is much harder. If the chili starts to get dry while simmering add a half a cup of water at a time until a spoon no longer leaves a track when pulled through the pot. If the chili is too liquid at the start, just wait it will get thicker. If it’s still too liquid at the end you can add crushed corn chips a couple tablespoons at a time to thicken it up.
You should wait a while before tasting to let the flavor mix in throughout the pot. Also remember that the beans are very mild and will soften out the heat of the chili. Once you have the flavor spicy enough for your dinner now add a little salt a teaspoon at a time. Mixing it in and letting it cook in the same way. Make sure not to create too strong of a flavor because as the dish simmers the flavors will intensify. If you over salt or put too much chili at the beginning you may regret it.

Now For you vegetarians out there


Mike and I also serve up a vegetarian version of this dish. When Mike first suggested making it I was skeptical but it actually turns out to be an extremely excellent dish. Find a seasoned tofu that you like. We use a hickory smoked and baked savory spices. The tofu should be a fairly dry firm tofu. You will also need a cup of textured vegetable protein.
Place the TVP in a small bowl covering it with warm water. Let it soak for at least an hour. When you are ready to use it drain off any excess water. Cut the tofu into cubes about the same diameter as your thumb. Chop an onion into large pieces and you’re almost done. Put a small quantity of oil a tablespoon or so in the bottom of a large pot and when it is heated, a minute or two on medium heat add the onions. This is a trick I learned very early on if you heat the pan or pot first then add the oil and not add any food until the oil is heated your food is less likely to stick. Once your onions start emitting that wonderful caramelized onion smell add the soaked TVP and stir quickly. When it starts to sizzle, add your tofu and slightly stir. Now add your chili powder and continue stirring until the smell of the chili powder gets stronger. Like the meat chili, you add the sauce last. You should not stir this chili as much as a meat one because the tofu is very soft and is likely to crumble. You should stir occasionally to make sure it’s not burning to the bottom of the pot. Adjust the salt and heat after about half hour cooking.

How to cook3
Both of these chili should cook on a medium to low heat depending on your stove. If the pot is making a lot of noise and bubbling away you probably have your burner too high. The lower it is the better it is for the dish. You should cook like this for a minimum of an hour to an hour and a half. But at that point its fair game for eating the longer you cook it though the richer the dish.

Bean Chili any one?


Some people will tell you that adding beans to chill is a sin. Not us, we love beans and they add such a wonderful texture and flavor to Chile. You could eat the chili as described above very easily. But why when you can add wonderful beans.

Here are the directions for cooking beans on the side in case you are holding a large party and want to offer the option of beans or no beans. We cook them on the side and then add them to both the meat and veggie.
Take a quarter cup of dried pinto beans or dried kidney beans per person and soak them overnight or up to 36 hours. Alternately you could cook them in a pressure cooker for about 45 minutes to an hour. I prefer the soak overnight method as it’s quieter and cleaner. When you soak the beans you should put them in a large bowl and make sure there’s enough water that the beans are at least 2 inches below the surface. When you first put them in the bowl stir them up a bit in the water and pour off the water to get rid of any scraps or dust that may have come off of them. You can change the water as many times you want. The beans will swell and absorb some of the water. Make sure to check that they are still submerged at least every 12 hours. The soaking water should be room temperature or slightly warmer.
When you are ready to cook find a large pot and heat a little bit of oil we prefer olive oil but any vegetable oil will do as well. Chop a quarter cup of onion per cup of beans into very fine pieces and sauté them in the oil. Once the onions are soft stir in a teaspoon of chili powder per cup of beans. You may also want to add a few cloves of garlic to the onions. The garlic is not browned with the onions but is added with the chili powder. Add a couple of cups of water and start to simmer. Add a tablespoon per cup of beans of tomato paste, brown sugar or molasses to your pot, stirring gently. The molasses or paste is optional and can be skipped. We usually put in at least a bit. Drain the beans and add them to your pot. Add water until the beans just start to float. Simmer until the beans are soft. Add water as needed to keep the beans floating or nearly floating. Once the beans are nearly cooked stop adding additional water. Stir at least every half hour at the start and more often near the end. Be gentle. Once your beans are soft to the taste, probably about 2 hours, mix them into your chili and 20 minutes of simmering later serve.

Final notes


We serve this dish with corn chips and sour cream. We always make sure to have a large quantity of grated cheddar or jack cheese on the side for people to add. All of these items are optional. But the cold sour cream mixed in right before you eat it makes it such a creamy wonderful dish I never miss it. I hope you enjoy my chili and leave comments about how it works for you.