Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some Like It Hot

While sitting around Seattle waiting for Ed to load the truck, I made a pot of my father's chili. Ed hasn't had it yet and I thought it would be a nice meal for the rainy day we were experiencing (What?? Rain in Seattle?). Up above is the picture as it cooked, down below is the recipe if you'd like to try it.

Sal’s Chili

My father owned a hot dog cart in New York for 16 years. One of the most requested items he sold was the chili topping for his hot dogs. Its most identifying characteristic was its heat. That was my father’s “thing” with the chili – making it super freaking hot. People came to his cart specifically for this hot chili, even bringing friends along to try it.

He always made sure to tell everyone straight out that it was EXTREMELY hot. He'd even offer samples to people who weren't sure they'd like it or thought it might be too hot. After tasting it, many people would pass, especially women. Men would square their shoulders and puff out their chests, showing their manly ability to eat anything, and just order away. Often they would be seen with their jaws hung open, huffing air and downing a cold soda moments after their first bite, giving relief to their mouth.

You can adjust the heat to your preference and it’ll be just as good. I usually figure, when I make it for most people, one habanero pepper per pound of meat. If I were making it for my hot dog cart, I’d add more. Also, when my father and I made it for our hot dog carts, we did NOT add kidney beans. I only add kidney beans if I’m planning to serve it in a bowl, as a meal (with cornbread on the side!). As a meal, it’s best not to be so hot but on a hot dog, the fire just adds to the experience!

2 lbs. Chop Meat (80-85% lean – some fat in the chili makes it taste better)
1 large onion (diced)
9 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 habanero peppers (minced)
3 jalapeno peppers (diced – you can use 3 fresh or you can use jarred – just dice)
1 can dark red kidney beans
2 cans diced or whole tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

1. In a large stock pot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and start to brown the chop meat. I do one pound at a time and I break the meat up with a wooden spoon into little pieces, leaving a few chunks in the mix. You don’t have to fully cook it because it will cook more later, but make sure it’s browned.

2. While the meat is browning, prepare the garlic, onion, habaneros and jalapenos and set aside. NOTE: When handling habaneros, it’s best to use gloves. I wear thin, latex gloves for this. Even touching the outside of the pepper and getting its oil on your hands can result in burning your eyes or lips or whatever if you happen to rub your eye or touch your mouth after handling the pepper. Once you cut them open and expose the seeds, be just as careful with that. Be aware not to rub your face or mouth or eyes until you are done handling the peppers.

3. When the meat is close to done, take the meat out and put it into a bowl on the side. Leave the fat from the meat in the bottom of the stock pot.

4. Now in that stock pot, using the fat from the meat, sauté your garlic and onions. Do NOT burn these, cook only until they are sizzling and translucent.

5. Once that is done, put the meat back in the pot and add your cans of tomatoes and tomato paste. If you’re using whole tomatoes, crush them with your hand as you put them in the pot. Use the larger tomato can to add one can of water to the pot.

6. Now add your habaneros and jalapenos. The reason I dice the jalapenos and mince the habaneros is because of the habaneros heat. If you get too big a piece of habanero in your spoonful of chili, it’s too hot. Mincing it allows the heat to disperse through the entire pot of chili.

7. Add a tablespoon of sugar (a little more if you like it sweet – I do) and salt and pepper. Usually, as with everything I make since I don’t measure, is just to sprinkle a light layer of seasoning across the whole pot. Then I stir it all in.

8. Bring the whole pot to a boil (it won’t really boil like water, but it will bubble) and keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

9. Cook a minimum of one hour, more if you want it to be thicker. The longer you cook, the more reduced it will become and the thicker the chili will be.

10. Enjoy!

Click HERE for the printable version of the recipe.

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Team Caffee said...

Wow am I hungry now! That sounds like a great pot of Chile and the part about the hot dogs stands is intersting. Some day I hope you blog a little about what it is like having a hot dog stand in NYC.

Brad said...

You know Salena, that is just cruel. Here I am, loving hot hot hot food and this looks and sounds sssooooo up my alley and I have plenty of beer to wash it down and all I can do is drool over this post. Yummy yum yum. Ruth Ann will have to make that for me.