Secret Family Recipe: Chili

I apologize now. I do. Because of the length of this introduction. But listen….it’s necessary. When you taste your chili, you’ll understand why. If you scroll by my feelings will not be hurt LOL.)

Okay….Technically this isn’t a family recipe. This is a recipe you lie and claim to be a secret family recipe. Then you proceed to stunt and accept all of the praise.

I don’t know about y’all but I have two versions of most of my favorite recipes. I have my weeknight version where we show Sandra Lee how to cut corners on a recipe. (Bless that lady’s heart. Have y’all seen that Kwanzaa cake??) My weeknight versions are way less labor intensive than the original versions. My weeknight chili is light-years easier than this recipe. The thing is, though it’s still delicious, you’re sacrificing the layers of flavor that tell your taste buds that this was made with love and intention.

Some people like ground beef and others like whole chunks of beef. Do what you want. I prefer ground beef so I bought a whole chuck roast and pulled out my food grinder. It was cheaper than buying a huge thing of ground chuck. We are frugal around these parts.

Notice I have not mentioned anything about authenticity. My folk are from the south and I’m from Long Island, New York. So, yes, I put beans in my damn chili.

This recipe has so many different flavor profiles. Smokey, sweet, umami! Oh, the umami! I’m sure some ingredients might give you pause but listen, Linda.  There is such depth of flavor and color. It’s a beautiful dish in both preparation and presentation.

There are many steps to this recipe but once you get a groove going you’ll see it come together quite quickly. The key is to stay organized! It may look like a lot but trust me, you will taste every single step. It is worth it.

Believe me.


Ingredients:

Chile Paste:

4 dried New Mexico chiles

4 dried ancho chiles

3 chipotle chiles (in adobo)

2 anchovies (alternatively, you can use 1/2 tsp fish sauce per filet)

4 cups low sodium chicken broth,

2 tbsp of tomato paste

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar

4+ garlic cloves (I used like 6. It’s garlic, bro.)

2 tbsp smoked paprika

4 tsp dried coriander*

4 tsp dried cumin*

2 tsp black pepper

2-3 fresh cayenne peppers, optional

(*I have yet to commit to using whole spices. If that’s your preference, the dried conversion comes to roughly 1 1/2 tbsp of whole spices, each.)

Chili:

2 to 3 lbs beef (ground or cubed)

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 clove garlic, minced or grated (did you buy a microplane yet?)

1-2 fresh jalepeno or serrano chiles

1 can of pinto (or whatever you like, rinsed and drained)

3 bay leaves

1 (14oz) can of fire roasted diced/chopped tomatoes

1 (14oz) can of diced/chopped tomatoes

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4-1/3 chopped cilantro, optional (if you’re one of those soapy people)


Chile Paste:

(*signifies that it applies to the whole spices too, if used)

  1. Heat up a dry skillet
  2. Remove the core, seeds and stems of your dried peppers
  3. Cut or tear the chiles and toast them (and whole spices* if you’re using them) for about a minute or two in the hot skill
    • They will be warm and fragrant
    • Shake the pan or stir frequently, we don’t want to burn them.
    • Fill a bowl with hot water and add your toasted chiles
    • Allow them to steep for at least ten minutes in order to reconstitute them
    • 4a. Grind your whole spices at this point*
  4. Put the reconstituted chiles* in a blender or food processor
    • Add anchovies or fish sauce, tomato paste, cocoa powder, chipotles, garlic cloves, black pepper and brown sugar
    • Add your other spices*
    • Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth
    • Puree until smooth

Note: This can be made ahead of time. It can also be frozen and used at a later date.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large heavy bottomed or Dutch Oven, brown your beef and season with s&p
  3. When the meat is almost cooked through, add your jalapeno or serrano chile, chopped garlic, bell pepper and onions, cook until softened.
  4. To this mixture, add your chile paste
    • Be sure to stir for a few minutes to help eliminate some of the raw tomato paste flavor and basically kick start the spices that we added!
  5. Using the remaining chicken stock and a spatula to clean out your food processor or blender. Waste not want not.
  6. Pour this into you pan or dutch oven
  7. Using your spoon or spatula stir while scraping the bottom of the pan
    • this step is called deglazing. This allows us to clean the bottom of the pan. All those brown bits are flavor and ain’t that what we here for?
  8. Add your two cans of tomato, beans and bay leaves
  9. Bring your pot to a boil, stir and then lower to a simmer
    • Do not worry if your chili seems too loose, it will reduce and thicken.
  10. Taste and gently season with salt if you need to.
    • Do not over do it, because the chili is going to reduce and the flavor will concentrate.
  11. Add bay leaves
  12. Cover and place in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours
  13. Stir Occasionally
    • Taste so that you can see how the flavors continue to develop!
  14. The chili will darken, thicken and reduce, which is indicated on the walls of my pot (as pictured)
  15. Add apple cider vinegar and stir in cilantro
    • I saw this on some random cooking show and tried it one night. Such a complex acidic flavor. Again, trust me. If you’re that afraid, try a generous splash.
  16. Taste and adjust as necessary
    • Personal note: This is where we clean it all up. At this point, I’m tasting and adjusting. I’m correcting my seasoning. I’m adding additional things that might help it along depending on what my palate is saying. I might need more sugar, more pepper, more garlic, more acid. This is where personal preference comes into play as well.
    • Greedy note: THIS IS AMAZING THE NEXT DAY OMGOMGOMGOINK

Serve this up with your favorite fix-ins. We rolled with sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar with a side of homemade cornbread. If you’re feeling yourself because you made some bomb ass chili? Next time, walk with me, try this…. Pumpkin. Cornbread. You’re welcome.

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© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Red Velvet Swirled Blondies

Ingredients

1- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2-1 tsp red coloring

1/4 cup cocoa powder, more to taste

 

 


 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy

3. Slowly add egg and vanilla

4. Scrape bowl as needed

5. Combine the dry ingredients

6. Carefully add dry to wet

7. Grease or line a 13×9 baking pan (11×7 for a slightly thicker cut)

8. Portion out about 75% of the batter into the baking pan

9. To the remaining batter, add the cocoa powder and food coloring

• Adjust this to your preference

• Easier to add than remove

10. Spread the plain batter to fit the pan

11. Dollop the red velvet batter around the pan

12. Using a knife, drag through the batter to create your swirls

13. Ensure the batter is evenly spread

14. Bake for 18-20 minutes, start checking around 15 minutes.

15. Use the toothpick method to determine doneness

16. Cool on a cooling rack

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

I think these may the best cookies I’ve ever baked. It’s a user-friendly recipe and it is easy to customize with fix-ins.

My favorite part of the cookie is the sweet crunch when you bite in. We’re going to roll the dough in brown sugar before baking.

Image result for bite fist meme

Exactly.

These cookies can be frozen easily! I love this trick because you can grab one or two dough mounds from the freezer and stick them in the oven. You don’t have to make a huge batch! Portion control, or something. Right? Right.

Ingredients:

1 cup oats

1 cup AP flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, in a bowl to the side (more as needed)

1 large egg

1 stick unsalted butter (cool yet soft enough to handle)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a mixing bowl, add oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and the brown sugar
  5. Beat until the texture is creamy
  6. Slowly add vanilla and egg
  7. Continue beating, scrape down the sides as necessary.
  8. With your mixer on low, carefully add the dry ingredients until combined
  9. You can add your mix-ins at this point (raisins, nuts, cranberries, etc).
  10. DO NOT OVERMIX THE DOUGH
  11. Line your baking sheets with parchment
  12. Scoop the dough in approximately 1 ½ tablespoon drops
  13. Roll the dough in that reserved brown sugar. Trust me.
  14. Bake for 10-13 minutes
  15. Start checking for doneness starting at 10 minutes
    • Cookies should be golden brown around the edges
  16. Allow to cool for a moment on the baking sheet before transfer to cooling racks
  17. This dough can be frozen and baked cookies can be cooked
    • Freeze the dough in mounds on the baking sheet then transfer to a freezer bag for proper storage

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved