February 12, 2007

Raptor Red Top of the Food Chain Chili Recipe

This is our Chili recipe that won the Chili Cook Off at Sail Fest in Zihuatanejo on Saturday, Feb 3, 2007. It's a flavorful red beef chili with a deep flavor and pleasant back heat.

This is quite a different Chili than our team prepared at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta which won the competition in December 2006.

This recipe is fairly complex and should be prepared at least a day ahead to allow the flavors to blend. It freezes and reheats well. Serve with a dollop of Toasted Cumin Crema (recipe below).

You will need to do a lot of tasting as you go along to get the best results.

The pot is important. It should be big enough to hold the whole batch. The pot should also have a thick bottom to spread the heat so the chili doesn't burn.

We don't have a big pot on board and borrowed one from fellow cruisers. It was fairly thin metal, so we used a flame spreader.

We used 2 separate fry pans to toast or sweat (lower heat than a sauté) the components before adding to them to the pot.

The following makes approximately 2 gallons of Chili.



The Meat:

The meat is very important. You want a flavorful cut of beef with some connective tissue. Chuck is preferred. Flank steak or skirt steak are also fine. We used 3 Kilos (7 pounds) of un-marinated Arrachara, Mexican skirt steak.

Cut the meat into cubes (do not use ground meat). For meal or side dish sized servings, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. For competition sized (tiny) servings, cut into 3/8 inch cubes. Season the beef with salt and pepper.

The Chili Molé (gravy):

We selected a variety of dried and fresh chilies at the local market. If you're not familiar with the chilies, you should taste a sliver of each (after toasting and rehydration of the dried ones) to help you balance the flavor. You may need to use more or less of each based on their size and flavor.

A good guide to identifying chilies can be found on the web at http://www.chillisgalore.co.uk/pages/varietys1.html

Dried Chilies (possibly more of each if small, buy extras):
2 Chipotlé
3 Ancho
4 Pasilla
5 Cascabel
4 New Mexican
3 Guajillo

Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chilies. Then toast the dried chilies (except the chipotles) in a dry pan until fragrant, be careful not to burn.

Pour boiling water over the toasted chilies and allow to rehydrate 30 minutes.

Scrape the meat off the skin of the chipotles and cascabeles (or any other thick skinned chilies) and put in a blender. Do not use their skins. Thin skin chilies can be added directly to the blender.

Add water to the blender to cover. Taste the chili soaking water and use it if not bitter. Blend until smooth.

This should produce around 1 liter of a very thick sauce.

The Aromatics:

3 Poblano chilies, seeded and diced
2 Jalapeño chilies, seeded and diced
3 to 4 Large Red Onions, finely diced
1/2 cup of chopped garlic

Other Ingredients:

* Olive Oil
3 bottles of dark beer, we used Indio
5 Oz of dark, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 14 1/2 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
3 14 1/2 cans of black beans, drained
3 Tbsp ground cumin

Ingredients to balance taste and consistency:

* Beef Broth
* Fresh lime juice
* Sweetener (maple syrup, honey or Agave nectar)
* Fresh grated nutmeg
* Salt and pepper
* Hot Sauce or Salsa



Add approximately 1 Tsp Olive Oil in your frying pan (we had 2 pans going at the same time) and brown the beef in small batches.

Do not crowd the pan. You want to brown the beef not steam it, do not burn the beef. When the surface of the beef cubes has a deep brown color, Add the batch of beef to your pot.

Between batches, deglaze the frying pan with some of the beer, reduce slightly and add to the pot.

When all the beef is done, add 1 Tsp of Olive Oil to the pan(s) and sweat the aromatics. Season with salt as you add each aromatic.

Start with the fresh Chilies, sweat 2 or 3 minutes until fragrant (be careful of the fumes), add the onions, sweat for 2 minutes more, then add the garlic and sweat for another 1 minute. Add to the pot.

Add a little olive oil to your empty fry pan and add the can of tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently until the paste takes on a rust color (1 to 2 minutes). Add to the pot, use beer to get all the tomato paste out of the pan and add to the pot.

Now add the Chili Molé, chocolate, chopped tomatoes, remaining beer, ground cumin and black beans to the pot.

Note - REAL Chili does not have beans in it! You can omit them and have a heartier chili. We added them to extend the recipe for the contest and because we like the taste.

Bring the pot up to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently to prevent burning and to blend completely. Simmer at least 2 hours until the meat is tender, but still has a little bite to it.

During the cooking, you should taste the chili and add the following ingredients:

* Beef Broth - as needed to reduce thickness
* Fresh lime juice - as needed to increase the brightness of the chili
* Sweetener (maple syrup, honey or Agave nectar) - as needed to balance the flavor
* Fresh grated nutmeg - as needed to add flavor complexity
* Salt and pepper - to taste
* Hot Sauce or Salsa to increase heat

When plating, add a dollop of Toasted Cumin Crema to each serving.


Toasted Cumin Crema (also prepare a day ahead to meld flavors):

1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
* salt and pepper to taste

Place the cumin seeds in a dry sauté or fry pan over medium heat. Toast until lightly golden brown and fragrant, do not burn.

Place in a small bowl, stir in the crema and season with salt and pepper to taste. To dispense, put in a squeeze bottle with a big enough nozzle to not clog with the seeds.

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