Spice Up Your Life – Cooking Halloween Chilies

I will try to get in that second post tonight, since I said I’d get two in… but I definitely want to get this one in, for it is a new segment! That’s right, a new segment, here through absolutely no demand!

This segment, “Spice Up Your Life,” will be about my experiments in the kitchen. Cooking from a recipe isn’t so difficult (unless it’s Julia Child’s beouf bourguingon), but I usually find myself with a bunch of random ingredients thinking, “I wonder what I can make this into?” And my first experimental food was a chili made during a Boy Scout camping trip way back when I was still in middle school. Our patrol’s chef left to play a soccer game, and I was the senior scout and patrol leader, so food was left to me. I threw a lot of it together with some sparing spices and created what was lovingly called “Hobo Chili.”

But I’ve never been able to recreate that chili. In fact, when it comes to chili, I will never give you the same chili twice. Because I never write out a recipe. And these recipes, for I will give you two of them, are no different. Over the years, making many a pot of delicious chili, I have learned some tricks that are well repeatable and always taste delicious, but I always end up winging it in the end with some of the more specific things, like amounts and types of herbs and spices to use.

So, note that these recipes aren’t exact, but are based on the two chilies I have been cooking yesterday and today for a church Halloween chili dinner tomorrow.

First up: “Trick” (This chili will be quite spicy, so my friend Stephen Swain is sure to enjoy it thoroughly.)

Ingredients:
1 5-pack of Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausages
1-1.5 pounds of ground beef (whether or not you go lean is up to you, but the amount of fat will change the consistency of the chili)
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce (if you go store brand, pick Publix before you pick Walmart)
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce (alternatively, three of these instead of one and one)
2 cans dark kidney beans (I usually pick Bush’s)
2 cans unsalted corn, whole kernels
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (Note that when I say 15 oz., I’m guessing from memory. I mean the normal ones, not the big ones.)
2 10 oz. cans of Rotel Hot (diced tomatoes with habaneros)
4 habanero peppers
3 serrano peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
4 red chili peppers
1 poblano pepper
Olive oil
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Season salt
Red chili flakes (optional, but then again, this isn’t a strict recipe, so…)

You’ll need a pretty good size pot for all this, I’d suggest a 5 gallon pot. Take the sausage meat out of the skins and dump it with the ground beef in a pan, mixing it all together. Take your peppers and cut them up a bit. I seeded about half of the peppers, as the seeds hold a lot of spice, but you can decide on your own what to do there. Also, I suggest dicing them into little bite size bits, but if you have a Cuisinart you can just cut the caps off and chop them up in there a bit. Throw them in a pan with some of that olive oil and cook them at medium heat until they’re slightly softer. The oil should be hissing a bit, and the peppers releasing some juices. While that’s happening, put the pan of meat on at medium heat. Salt your meat with the season salt before it browns. Once the peppers are done, toss the entire bit into the pan with the meat and stir that stuff up. You can use some red chili flakes with the meat cooking if you want a stronger kick. Or double your pepper amount, depending on how spicy you want things. Try to prevent your meat from getting too terribly chunky in the large variety. Open up your cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and Rotel and pour them all in your pot. Put the pot on the burner at medium. Once the meat is browned, throw the meat and peppers in with the tomatoes. Get the meat good and covered with the sauce. After a bit, toss in your corn and beans. When it comes to draining things, I drain my beans, but not my corn. Sometimes, the extra liquid is good to ensure you don’t boil away too much stuff. From here on out, it’s guess work. You’ll want to add a good amount of chili powder, more than any of the other spices. I’d add a couple teaspoons of garlic powder and a couple teaspoons of cayenne, but really at this point, you should be tasting it as it cooks and figuring out what it needs. The chili should give a nice, on contact burn that isn’t super overwhelming for your less adventurous. Though tasting some of this chili mixed with my sweet chili almost killed my little sister, so who knows? Anyway, when you’re mostly satisfied, let it simmer for about an hour on the stove, lid on. Put it in the fridge for a day or two to let the flavors really blend.

But on to the sweet chili: “Treat”

Ingredients:
1 5-pack of Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausages
1-1.5 pounds of ground beef (whether or not you go lean is up to you, but the amount of fat will change the consistency of the chili)
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce (if you go store brand, pick Publix before you pick Walmart)
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce (alternatively, three of these instead of one and one)
2 cans dark kidney beans (I usually pick Bush’s)
2 cans unsalted corn, whole kernels
1 15 0z. can diced tomatoes (Note that when I say 15 oz., I’m guessing from memory. I mean the normal ones, not the big ones.)
2 10 oz. cans of Rotel Mild (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
2 Anaheim peppers
2 cubanelle peppers
2 Hungarian wax peppers
Olive oil
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper (Optional)
Season salt
Semisweet chocolate/Milk chocolate (Optional)

Again, 5 gallon pot. The process here is pretty much exactly the same as the previous one, but the peppers used in this specific chili are SO much milder. They’re not quite like bell peppers, but they’re close. The cubanelles especially. But, seriously, it’s the same exact process. Salt your meat, cut your peppers, put it all together, start putting in the chili powder and the garlic powder until it tastes about right. When cooking this chili, my pot was a bit smaller, so I left out

Now, you’ll not the chocolate. I originally wanted to add chocolate to this chili, but forgot to buy any so I left it out. I’ve never added chocolate to one before, but I wanted to give it a try. So, here’s the funny story. Apparently, a lot of people at my church signed up to bring chili to the chili dinner. (Don’t worry, my chilies will be the uncontested best chilies there.) So, since I cooked up so much chili, my mom used some of the chili for dinner tonight while I was at work. She poured up a decent amount of the sweet “Treat” chili, and then added a couple spoonfuls or whatnot of the “Trick” chili. This is what nearly killed my little sister, who has only recently managed to brave the spiciness that is pepperoni. I think she’s secretly from Ohio or something. Anyway, after dinner, lot of chili left, my mom added the entire thing back into the “Treat” chili. I found out about this, tasted it, and discovered a far greater spiciness than I ever intended for the chili.

Ergo, I set forth to fix it. I added a tiny milk chocolate bar and maybe a handful or two of some semisweet chocolate chips to the mix. It darkens the chili to a great brown color and gives it a much sweeter flavor. With the small addition of the “Trick” chili, and some garlic and chili powder added back in to cover the slightly overpowering sweetness now present in the chili, the “Trick” chili has a very slight gradual burn in the back of your mouth, cooled off by the hint of chocolate and mild sweetness present in the sausage and peppers.

In other words, it turned out to be pretty awesome, even if it wasn’t my choice to start with.

That’s all I’ve got for my recipes for chili. Really, it’s all about your personal desires for how spicy, how thick, how meaty you want it. Just remember to taste it as you go and just experiment. Never add more than you can cover up with some other ingredient. But you should get some delicious chilies with these basic directions.

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One thought on “Spice Up Your Life – Cooking Halloween Chilies

  1. […] as many chilies as you like, but can only win once, and I think most that know how I cook chili know which two I’ll be entering… with some slight […]

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