2.16.2009

Nothing says "I love you" like beef.

Adam and I decided about five years ago that we didn't want to celebrate Valentine's Day anymore.  We decided to be anti-Valentine's Day: we ate nachos, drank beer, watched action movies, and then slept in separate beds.  And the tradition continues, only we're slightly more gourmet about the whole affair: this year we made chili dogs.  Specifically, we made Chocolate Chili and put it on top of pasture-fed beef hot dogs.  It is one of the most satisfying, filling meat dishes you could ever eat, particularly in the throes of winter...and the perfect way to say "I love you but I don't feel pressured to buy you materialistic, probably useless things to demonstrate that love."  Sometimes hanging out in sweats and laughing at Armageddon is the best way to be in love.

Chocolate Chili  
(inspired by Michael Chiarello)

Serves 4-5.

1 1/2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into about 3/4 in. pieces
Freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 tsp.
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, plus 1 tsp.
1 tbsp. chili powder, plus 1 tbsp.
Masa harina (Mexican corn flour)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaping tbsp. rendered bacon fat (we keep a cup of it in our fridge)
2 red onions, peeled & minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
1/8 c. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 -2 (12-oz) bottles beer (we prefer a smoked malt beer, such as Schlenkerla Rauchbier...but Guinness or Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout work too)
8 oz. canned diced tomatoes in juices (just eyeball it)
1/2 qt. chicken stock
2 (12-oz) cans black beans
1-2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into large chunks

Place chuck in a large bowl.  Season liberally with pepper & salt.  Season with 1/4 tsp. of the cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. of the cumin, and 1 tbsp. of the chili powder.  Mix this well and coat the meat with the masa harina.  The flour will thicken the sauce.

Preheat a Dutch oven on the stove over med-high heat.  Add the olive oil and then the coated meat, spreading it evenly so it covers the bottom of the Dutch oven in 1 layer.  Sprinkle any remaining flour and/or seasoning on top of the meat.  Leave it alone, without turning it, so the meat will brown or caramelize.  Add the bacon fat.  As it browns, turn each piece with tongs.  Once all sides are caramelized, remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet to cool, leaving juices in the Dutch oven to sauté vegetables.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes over med heat until they start to caramelize and get soft.  Add the jalapeňo and allow to to cook for 2 more minutes until soft.  Add the tomato paste.  Add the remaining 1 tsp. of the cumin, 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon, the oregano, and 1 heaping tbsp. of the chili powder.  Add beer.  Stir to incorporate everything.  Add diced tomatoes, and stir.  Then add the reserved meat.  Add chicken stock.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender.  Strain juice from the black beans, add the beans to the chili pot and bring up to simmer.  Then add chunks of bittersweet chocolate.  Stir until it melts.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  It also freezes well for up to 3 months.

If you don't want to do this chili dog style, you can also use tortilla chips for dipping.  I've also grilled slices of ciabatta and used that to dip.  My personal feeling is that you should NOT use cheese with this recipe - why mess with perfection?

Eat, drink, and celebrate not celebrating.


1 comment:

Grumpator said...

"Sometimes hanging out in sweats and laughing at Armageddon is the best way to be in love"

AMEN!