I spent yesterday at an event run by the Snake River Brewing Club, the homebrewing club that I’ve been a part of for several months now. We brewed around 80 gallons of strong scotch ale and split it up into smaller portions to ferment it. We’ll be getting back together in a month or so to combine the beer into a used Merlot barrel to age for several months.
My brewing system only handles 5 gallons at a time, so I cooked a pot of chili and photodocumented the brew while the guys with 10 and 15 gallon systems did the brewing. The chili was a cheaper version of my favorite recipe– I had chipotle peppers this time, and I used ground beef instead of the tastier chuck roast. One of the other guys brought a Bacon Explosion, which I was interested to try. I’ve never seen one up close before.
Little late here, but I thought I’d post about Christmas. Beth and I got to spend our Christmas alone this year- after the craziness of a two-family Thanksgiving, it was a welcome change to have a quiet holiday. We opened a few presents- Beth got me Charcuterie, and told me that the “real present” would be letting me make the recipes- and then spent most of the rest of the day cooking.
Beth made Vanilla-Peach jam and several desserts while I made dinner. We invited her neighbor over for the meal, and I served my first-ever attempt at Beef Wellington, along with brussel sprouts and maple-glazed turnips and carrots. We served a Lost Abbey beer called 10 Commandments- a dark strong Belgian ale with rosemary, raisins and honey. For dessert, Beth showed me up with a delicious Gateau D’Liege (a Belgian sweet yeast bread with pearl sugar and raisins), a buttermilk rhubarb pound cake and a arborio rice pudding with mascarpone cream and strawberry preserves.
I’m making this beer a little later than I should, but I had to wait for the pumpkins to ripen. This year’s crop is of the Cinderella variety- the skin is deep and burnished orange, with a flattened top and bottom that look like carriage material.
I’m making the beer in two parts. The first and strongest runnings of wort from the grain will go on to become a oak-aged vanilla bourbon porter to serve at Christmastime. After I started that beer, I added a couple pounds of grain to the mash and ran off wort for a second porter. Most importantly, I added roast pumpkin puree to the mash, and spices to the boil. By Thanksgiving, I’ll have a spiced pumpkin pie porter.
Who cares? I find it funny that anyone would try to be a “purist” about a food originated by cowboys and prison cooks. We’re a little late in the game to be claiming that any one recipe is the genuine article. Now that I’ve said that, I’ll say that chili is not meant to be a showcase for bison or kobe beef or arugula. Chili is cheap, filling, and full of spicy goodness. It’s a stew for cheap cuts of meat that fall apart into delicious threads of flavor run through with spice. To me, chili is a quintessential comfort food. It’s an anti-fancy dish that stands athwart the bulwarks of haute-cusine yelling Stop.
My chili is always a little different each time I make it, depending on what I have on hand, but it’s something that I make at least once every fall (along with borscht, but we’ll come to that later). Without further ado: