It’s Getting Chili Around Here | Jim Kofron Photography | Jim Kofron

It’s Getting Chili Around Here

I’ve never been a big chili fan. My folks never made it, and the chili’s I’ve tried have been one-dimensional and not particularly pleasing to my tastebuds. The heat doesn’t bother me, but the flavors did. On top of that, I’m not a fan of the beans either—and most of the chills I’ve been offered have been full of them.

So, this year we had a chili cook off at St. John the Baptist (it’s an annual event). We were short entrants, and I was thinking of how much I love my wife’s moles and her chocolate chicken, and I wondered if a chocolate chili actually existed. The internet is an amazing place, and after a few minutes googling I came up with a couple recipes to try. One included lamb meat—which I thought would be yum—but based on the face my wife made, I came to the conclusion that it might be a tad bit too adventurous for our family. The other recipe looked delicious, but time constraints got in the way and I never made the entry for the cook off (heck, I didn’t even have time to attend).

Yesterday was my last day of vacation for 2013 (well, close enough), and I thought it’d be a good day to do some shopping and make something different for dinner. My thoughts turned to the chili, so I went off and got the ingredients for Ed’s Chicago Cocoa Chili. There’s a lot of stuff going on with ingredients, and I was wondering if Ed was a kitchen sink kind of guy—but I faithfully grabbed everything on the list that I didn’t have (or in case of some of the spices, were older than 10 years…). As it turned out, the chili was actually pretty easy to make—more prep work than actual cooking time. I started with ground turkey, and I browned that it in a cast iron skillet with a strip of Neuske’s peppercorn bacon. My god, that bacon is the best in the world! From there, it was following the actual recipe, and within an hour it was actually finished. I worked all the browning of meats and sautéing of veggies in the cast iron pan, but transferred it to my stainless wok to finish the dish (there’s a lot of acid in there with the tomatoes and citrus juices).

I decided to serve it with homemade corn bread. Again, I found a tasty recipe online (thanks Alex), and cooked that in the cast iron (preheated) skillet similar to how I do my biscuits.

The dinner turned out phenomenally. The chili is to die for, and I’ve never had anything as wonderfully complex and delicious for a tex-mex dish. It’s not quite a mole, but it’s got a healthy dose of the chocolate. Surprisingly, the kids ate it up too—Noah, who ‘hates’ most of the ingredients (onion, green pepper, jalapeño peppers) had a big bowl and thought it was great. Definitely a success, and I’ve got an entry for next year’s cook off...

Copyright 2014, Jim Kofron. All rights reserved.