Mother nature has not been nice to us here in New York the past couple of months. The most recent gift was Blizzard Nemo, which dumped almost three feet of snow on our doorstep. I know some of you are laughing at me right now, since three feet of snow for you is just another typical Monday morning. But for us, it's as unlikely as me running a marathon. Without a plow in sight for two days, Asheley and I were snowed in and confined to eating whatever food we had inside. We were totally elated when we opened up the freezer and saw a full stock of chili. It's the perfect winter comfort food on those cold, blistery days.
I actually made a giant batch of the stuff the week prior for a friend's Super Bowl party. That's the beauty of chili. It freezes incredibly well. I always make as much as my two giant stockpots can handle, and then freeze individual sized portions for super quick, easy weeknight meals. It's one of the few times Asheley and I actually get excited for "leftovers".
You are totally going to love this chili, because it's chock-full of secret ingredients (ssshh, don't tell anyone!) put together into one mega, end-all be-all, chili recipe.
Making chili is definitely not a quick process, but it is quite easy and extremely worthwhile. It's really not a lot of "active cooking time". It's more of throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and stir once in a while. And don't be afraid of the big list of ingredients. You probably already have most of it in your pantry.
To me, making chili is like spending the day smoking a pork shoulder to make pulled pork. Yes it's time consuming, but also deeply satisfying and a culinary spectacle. It takes time for the chili to transform those individual ingredients into a complex, harmonious flavorful stew.
I love spending a cold winter weekend day just relaxing around the house, most likely watching a Law & Order marathon, while tending to my big 'ole pot of chili.
One of the secrets in this recipe is the braised short ribs. They help raise this chili to a state of pure luxury. If you can't find short ribs or don't want to do the extra step of braising, feel free to omit them.
I love searing meat. The beautiful dark golden brown crust that forms is so beautiful to me, as is watching the meat slide right off the bone after a couple hours of braising in beer.
When shopping for short ribs, make sure to get nice, plump, meaty ones. You want to maximize as much meat as possible.
Just food for thought, since it literally just popped into my head: I recently learned a great tip from reading one of Michael Symon's cookbooks. He salts food in stages as it cooks: Vegetables in. Season. Meat in. Season. Liquids in. Season (you get the idea). So when you add your chopped onions and peppers to the pan, make sure to season them generously with salt. It totally has made a difference in my cooking.
Roasting the poblano peppers adds another dimension and depth of flavor. Watching them blacken and blister all over is incredibly enjoyable. Once they are done roasting, you are going to need to remove the skins. The easiest way to do this is to place the poblanos into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, which will create steam. After 10 minutes in the sauna, the skins will have loosened from the peppers, which makes removing them a whole lot easier.
Asheley loves to top her bowl of chili with a mountain of shredded cheddar cheese. I like mine topped with little sweet bursts of cornbread croutons and a dollop of lime crema. And tortilla chips. I need tortilla chips!
I love the acidic brightness that the lime adds to the sour cream. And lime crema might sound fancy, but really it's just sour cream mixed with the zest and juice of a lime.
The cornbread croutons are also really simple, but you are going to need some cornbread first.... oh, wait, I just posted a cornbread recipe? How convenient 🙂 Check out the recipe here: Honey – Jalapeño Cornbread
Asheley and I actually don't typically eat the chili on the day it's made, because it always tastes better the following day. It gives the flavors more time to get all friendly.