I told you about our butcher who smokes his own meats in my recipe for Smoked Balsamic & Rosemary Pork Chops, well, here comes another recipe that uses both his smoked andouille sausage and his ground beef/pork blend. Of course, any recipe can be made with meat that is not smoked and will be just fine, but if you like the added depth of flavor that smoking brings, these recipes are for you.
Now chili is one of my favorite things to make, for oh-so-many-reasons. Let me count the ways….Chili … (1) can be made a thousand different ways and still be great, seriously, at least, a thousand; (2) is a fantastic it’s-time-to-clean-out-the-refrigerator-and-pantry dish; (3) it freezes for a convenient ready-made meal; (4) it’s relatively healthy; and (5) it can be served with almost any starch: potatoes, rice, pasta, polenta, fries, tortilla chips, crackers, bread, whatever you have!
With reason #’s 2 and 3 above in mind, here is my ingredient list for this smoked chili. Watch for cook notes and remember above all else, this chili recipe is more about technique than it is the individual ingredients. The “how it’s done” does matter. So I will try to explain the whys and I’ll make ingredient suggestions/substitutions along the way.
OH – and beans really are optional, but I happen to like them. I used black beans in this recipe but feel free to mix it up with Kidney beans, cannelloni beans, garbanzo beans, whatever you like is perfect.
Ingredients (optional ingredients in italics)
2 lbs. ground beef/pork mix
1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, casing removed, chopped
29 oz. can of tomato puree
14.5 oz. can of petite cut diced tomatoes
1 large cooking onion
1 green bell pepper
1/3 c. Balsamic Vinegar
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3-5 dried chiles of your choice, depending on how hot you like your chili. I used 3 Thai red and 2 ancho chiles. ***See preparation instructions below.
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin (more or less to taste)
2 Tbsp. Better Than Boullion (or your favorite brand) Beef Base (I suggest this brand to keep the dish gluten free)
2-4 Tbsp. Agave Syrup (to taste)
1/2 c. frozen corn (or fresh, if it’s in season)
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed, or whatever kind of bean you like/have in your pantry. Of course, some folks don’t like beans in their chili so this is optional. I think they add nice body and are a great protein source, so mine has lots of beans. And I like them. Oh, I might have mentioned that already.
Toppings, Mix/Match & Optional, but highly Suggested!
Cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
The Dance, I mean, Instructions
If you have a Dutch oven, I suggest using it. I use my 6-quart for this recipe and if I had a bigger one, I must might us that instead.
- Heat your Dutch oven over medium heat and allow it to fully come to temperature. Add your ground meat and let it cook, stirring often. I do not add oil as I don’t want oil in my finished chili. Letting the meat cook in its own fat avoids the need, but keep the temperature at medium or medium low. You want to cook, but not crisp-brown, the meat. NOTE: If your meat begins to brown too quickly, give it a good stir and add about 1/4 c. of water, stir again, cover and let it steam for a few minutes. The water will evaporate out over time and cause no harm whatsoever.
- While the meat is cooking, heat your oven to 250 degrees and put the dried chile peppers, if using, on a metal pie plate and roast for 5-6 minutes. Remove from over, put in warm water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Remove stems and seeds, chop and set aside until you reach step 6.
- When the meat is fully cooked through, add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and allow it to cook until there is no more liquid in the pot, maybe 7-10 minutes or so. Sounds odd, yes, but it gives a hint of sweetness while not imparting any vinegar flavor to the final chili. Trust me. Add the beef bouillon. Stir.
- Remove the casing from the andouille sausage and chop it. Add it to the meat, stir, remove from the pot and cover. Do not drain the fat.
- Add the chopped onion and green pepper to the pot and allow to cook only until it begins to soften.
- Add the garlic and the chile peppers (if using) and cook another 1-2 minutes. Do not brown or burn the garlic, it will make your chili bitter.
- Return the meat to the pan, stir to incorporate the vegetables with the meat, and sprinkle with the chili powder and cumin. Stir and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add both cans of tomatoes. Stir, cover with a lid, reduce heat to a very low simmer and allow to slowly cook for 2 hours, or more if you’re busy. No harm will be done.
- Drain and rinse the beans, add to the chili when it is finished simmering, along with the corn and the juice from 1 lime. Stir, cover and allow to rest for a few hours.
- Done. Freeze some, enjoy some, give a little to the neighbors, whatever. You have a great pot of chili.
- Top with any combination of the following: Sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese, sliced jalapenos, more lime, scallions, tortilla chips….whatever you like.