Championship chili for Christmas … or any time Essay

Championship chili for Christmas . . . or any time



Entrees that are hearty, easy to make in quantity, and just plain
good are ideal for holiday parties. Such a dish is this thick, tasty
all-meat chili–the specialty of the house for Paula and Ray Fair of
Redmond, Washington (see page 79).



The Fairs invite their guests to bring a selection of appetizers
and desserts. Accompanied with pinto beans and a choice of condiments,
the chili serves 20 to 30, depending on the amount of food guests
contribute.



This chili merits the time and attention it requires. It keeps for
several days; just reheat to serve. It’s also easy to keep warm so
guests can help themselves at their own pace.



The mellow flavor comes from the sauce, which is based on mild
dried red chilies. Beef chuck, trimmed of bones and most fat, simmers
to tenderness in the rich, russet-colored sauce, along with a fragrant
blend of herbs and spices, and generous amounts of onion and garlic.



Dried chilies are available in the Mexican food sections of most
supermarkets, or in Mexican grocery stores.



Ray Fair’s Championship Chili



30 to 35 (6 to 8 oz.) dried red New Mexico or Anaheim (California)
chilies



1 1/2 quarts (4 cans, 12-oz. size) beer



15 to 16 pounds bone-in beef chuck



Salad oil



8 large onions, chopped



2 heads (30 to 35 cloves) garlic, minced or pressed


3 tablespoons each chili powder and paprika


2 2/3 tablespoons ground cumin


2 tablespoons dry oregano leaves



1 tablespoon sugar



2 teaspoons ground coriander


1 teaspoon cayenne



1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


1 quart regular-strength chicken broth or water



1 can (about 1 lb.) tomato sauce



1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (optional)



Water



Salt



Pinto beans (recipe follows)



Condiments (suggestions follow)



Rinse chilies; discard stems and seeds. Combine chilies and beer
in a 4-to 5-quart pan. Bring to a boil: cover and simmer, stirring
occasionally, for 30 minutes. Whirl chilies and cooking liquid in a
food processor or blender until pureed. With a spoon, rub puree through
a fine wire strainer (or force chilies through a food mill); discard
residue. Reserve puree.



Meanwhile, cut the meat from bones. Trim off and discard bones and
most of the fat; cut meat into 1/2-inch cubes.



Place an 8-to 10-quart pan over mediumhigh heat. Add 1/4 cup oil
and a fourth of the meat; cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until
meat is well browned. Lift meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set
aside. Repeat this step until all the meat has been browned.



Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium
heat, stirring often until onion is limp, about 20 minutes. Add the
chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, sugar, coriander, cayenne, and
allspice. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes; remove from heat.



To the pan add reserved beef and any juices that have accumulated,
the chili puree, broth, tomato sauce, and whiskey. Stir the chili to
blend ingredients.



Bring the chili to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and
simmer, stirring occasionally; if needed, add water 1/4 cup at a time to
prevent sticking. Cook until beef is very tender to bite, about 2
hours. Add salt to taste.



Serve chili from cooking pan or a large tureen. If made ahead,
cool, then cover and chill as long as 2 days. To reheat, stir
frequently over medium heat until chili is hot, about 20 minutes.



Makes about 5 quarts chili: 20 generous 1-cup-size servings or 30
smaller 2/3-cup-size servings. Ladle chili into individual bowls to top
with beans and condiments.



Pinto beans. Sort through 2 pounds dried pinto beans; discard
debris. Place beans in a 5-to 6-quart pan; rinse well with several
changes of water, then drain. Add 4 quarts water to beans, cover, and
bring to a rolling boil; set aside and let stand at least 1 hour or as
long as overnight.



Drain beans, discarding liquid. Add 4 quarts water, 1 teaspoon
salt, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat,
cover, and simmer until beans are very tender to bite, about 1 hour.
Add salt to taste. Drain beans and serve hot. If made ahead, chill
beans, covered, in cooking liquid up to 2 days; to serve, bring to
simmering and drain.



Makes 2 1/2 to 2 quarts: about 20 servings, 2/3 cup each, or 30
serving, 1/3 cup each.



Condiments. You will need 4 to 5 cups (1 to 1 1/4 lb.) shredded
Cheddar cheese, 4 to 6 cups sour cream, and 2 cups (about 24) sliced
green onions. Present each in a separate dish to spoon over chili.



Photo: What’s the verdict? Tasting determines just-right
seasoning of all-meat chili