I won! I won!

Fair warning, this is not a book-related post! Today we are talking Food, which after all is very important also!

The chili cookoff at the Cavalier party yesterday? Last year I won Best Overall with an entry in the “traditional” category. This year I won the “white chili” category*, and since we kind of forgot to do a vote for Best Overall, I am free to imagine that mine would have won again.

So, since it is Very Darn Cold and thus excellent chili weather, here are both recipes. You will see that while I went with “best possible traditional chili” last year, this year I went for “very odd and exotic white chili.”

Best Ever Traditional Chili

Actually I did not follow an exact recipe, but I think I can re-create the recipe I used pretty closely. Thus:

2 Tbsp oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 fresh jalapenos or cayenne-type chilies, minced (seeded if you prefer)
1 Tbsp freshly minced garlic
3 Tbsp ground chipotle powder (got mine from Penzey’s) (chipotle powder if HOT so keep that in mind) (the smoked flavor from the chipotle is great and regular chili powder is not a substitute. Not that it would be exactly bad, but totally not the same.)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground oregano
1 Tbsp smoked paprika (also from Penzey’s)
1 tsp salt or more to taste
2 lbs chuck, cut into a fine dice by hand (truly improves texture of chili)
1 lb pork sausage (along with chipotles, this is the very important secret ingredient)
1 35 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cans red kidney beans or other red beans, drained and rinsed
Sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped onion, avocado, or whatever other accompaniments you like.

Saute the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the minced jalapenos and the garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Stir in the spices and oregano and cook 1 more minute.

Brown the diced chuck in a hot skillet and remove to a bowl. Brown the sausage and drain. Add both the beef and the sausage to the pot with the onions. Add the remaining ingredients except the beans. Add 2 C water. Simmer until the beef is very tender — start to check after 1 1/2 hours. Add more water as necessary. After the beef is tender, add the beans and simmer another ten minutes or so. Serve with accompaniments.

There! Try that one of these frigid nights and let me know what you think.

Then try this one! This recipe is for a much smaller amount, so double or even triple if you want enough for a crowd. In that case, you may need to brown the chicken and onions in batches.

Thai Chicken Chili

12 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, minced
3 cayenne-type fresh chilies, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Aleppo pepper or other mild ground chili pepper
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 14-oz can coconut milk (I prefer chaokoh)
1 15-oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 carrots, shredded (I suggest a food processor for chopping the carrots)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped.
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely julienned fresh basil, if you have some handy.

Jasmine rice, to serve

Combine the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, minced chilies and seasonings and toss to coat. Saute 6-8 minutes. Stir in flour and stir for one minute. Stir in coconut milk and one can of water. Stir in peanut butter. Bring to a boil and add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently for ten minutes. Serve with rice, if desired.

* Actually, mine was the only entry in the “white chili” category. But it was very good. Hope you enjoy it!

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