Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

I’m writing this post as I sit in the beautiful lobby of Magdalena Grand Resort in Tobago. I’m overlooking the pool and the beautiful beach. I’m feeling totally relaxed and sipping on some ice cold infused water digesting the ginormous breakfast that we had. Why am I sitting in the lobby? I’m keeping hubby company while he finishes up some work. His day job not the blog. I decided I should get a little head start to next week and do a little writing while I keep him company cause that is just the way I roll. Johann thinks I’m crazy and totally trying to encourage me to procrastinate and enjoy the view and relaxation. Part of me thinks he’s right but the bigger part knows how busy next week will be and knows I should be writing - so here I am - still doing what I love and doing it in a fabulous setting.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

Enough of all that though - this is all about the chili after all! I adapted this recipe from a recipe challenge we did with rainy day bites cookbook club featuring J. Kenji López-Alt’s book The Food Lab. Before we did this chili challenge I had never made a chili paste to add to the chili. I have always added lots of veggies and the usual ingredients to my chili along with chili powder and oregano but never a flavourful paste. Not out of not wanting to but due lack of experience and knowledge and mostly out of fear and thinking that it would be too difficult. That is why as I have said multiple times before, I’m super thankful for these challenges that expose me to so many cookbooks and chefs that in turn have given me an education in preparing my food differently, with more flare and have helped me understand food in a way I never did.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

Basically what I’m trying to say is making the chili paste to add to the chili was life changing and totally doable and I will never make chili without it again. I even made extra to use in other things. It is fabulous, full of rich flavours and I could eat it by the spoonful. It added a depth of flavour to my chili that has never been there before.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

The only thing I changed from the original recipe is some of the amounts of the ingredients and I also added more veggies into mine. I did a loaded and shredded mirepoix that I usually add to my chili and not only does it give it more flavour but also adds to the texture of the chili too. It may add a little extra water content so I usually just let the chili simmer a little longer to cook off the liquid and for a thicker chili. I think it’s worth it for the extra veggies and extra bit of flavour, but you can definitely leave the extra veggies out.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

I also didn’t use Kenji’s chili paste recipe. I adapted my recipe from a more simplified using the ingredients that I have available to me here in Trinidad. The original recipe called for a variety of dehydrated chili’s that I just can’t get here. I’m sure it tastes even more complex and amazing with all those different chili’s but this one is a great alternative for those of us that can’t get our hands on a plethora of dehydrated ones.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

The chili itself tastes fantastic even though it’s a quick midweek one and not a chili that needs to simmer for 6 hours to develop flavours. That is most definitely because of that chili paste. This chili tastes incredible on the first visit but it tastes even more incredible the day after when the flavours have intensified. You must plan to make extra for leftovers. They make a perfect sloppy joe and work amazingly over nachos. We used our leftovers over nachos with some additional toppings and it was phenomenal.

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

Homemade Chili

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 2 medium onions grated
  • 1 carrot peeled and grated
  • 2 stalks of celery grated (I use the food processor to shred the onions, carrot and celery very finely)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic grated or minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 chipotle chili’s in adobo sauce, seeds scraped out for less heat and finely chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets mashed into a paste
  • ½-¾ cup of chili paste (recipe below) or ¼ cup of chili powder alternatively
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 lbs of ground meat of choice (I usually use beef)
  • 28 oz. an of crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can of red kidney beans drained and rinsed (if organic add the liquids too and do not add broth below)
  • 1 cup of chicken broth or water (skip of adding bean liquid)
  • 3 tbsp of instant fine cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp of alcohol like vodka, whiskey, or brandy (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the grated onions, garlic, carrots, celery,oregano and salt and pepper and cook stirring frequently until the veggies are tender and have golden edges, approx 5-7 min.

  2. Add the chipotles, anchovies, chili paste and cumin and cook stirring for a minute until fragrant. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

  3. Add the ground beef and cook breaking it up and stirring it until no longer pink. Doesn’t need to be browned because it will continue to cook through as the chili simmers.

  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, beans and stock if using along with the cornmeal, and stir well to combine.

  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and let it simmer away stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced a bit and flavours have had time to develop, approx 30 minutes.

  6. Stir in the alcohol and serve with garnishes of choice

Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste

Chili paste

Makes approx 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 Dried/dehydrated New Mexico chili peppers (ancho chili peppers alternately)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • Soaking water or stock for thinning if needed

Directions

  1. Dry roast the peppers on a hot pan about 1-2 minutes per side. The peppers will puff slightly and the skins will begin to turn reddish
  2. Set them into a pot of 2-3 cups of boiling water and remove from heat. Let them soak covered in water for approx 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the stems and coarsely chop the anchos. Reserve the soaking liquid.
  4. Set the chopped anchos into a food processor.
  5. Heat the oil in a small pan to medium heat and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
  6. Add the garlic and tomato and cook another minute or so, until you can smell the garlic. Add them to the food processor.
  7. Add the vinegar, cumin, oregano and a bit of salt and pepper along with about 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Process until nice and smooth.
  8. The sauce will be thick at this point. You can add more soaking liquid to thin out and achieve your desired consistency.
  9. Give it a taste. You can adjust with salt and pepper and this point, and if you feel it needs a touch of sweetness, add the honey and process a bit more.
  10. Store in the fridge in an airtight container

Adapted from J. Kenji López-Alt and Chili Pepper Madness


Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste