For a day that's all about the rough and tumble, you need a chili that isn't afraid to play hard. A chili that can stand out on a table crowded with high-flavor guacamoles, blue cheese dips, cheese-laden nachos and too-hot-for-your-own-good wings. And all those meatballs!
This chili started with an intense base of toasted seasonings, some classics, some not — cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, smoked paprika, instant coffee, mustard powder, ginger and garlic powder. From there, I built up. First some oil and onion, then fresh garlic.
Once I had some serious flavor going, it was time to turn to the star: the meat. But why settle for just one? So I combined chopped flank steak, shredded pork tenderloin and — just for good measure — some ground buffalo.
Once the meat started to brown, in went the canned tomatoes, some liquid smoke, a bit of beef broth, a beer of course, and a couple of rinds from Parmesan cheese.
That last one isn't an essential ingredient, and it really only works if you happen to have rinds kicking around the refrigerator (many people save them). But if you do have some, letting them simmer in the chili (or any soup) effortlessly adds an incredible rich, savory flavor. Just before serving the chili, fish out and discard the rinds.
In deference to the angry mail I've received over the years, I decided to leave beans out of this chili recipe. Personally, I like some kidney beans in my chili. Apparently, lots of people don't. Add a can or two if you swing that way.
J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking."
All or Nothing Chili
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground buffalo or lean beef
1 (12-ounce) bottle Corona or other pale beer
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Several rinds from chunks of Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (more or less to taste)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Sour cream, to serve
Chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
In a food processor, combine the pork tenderloin and flank steak. Pulse until chopped, but not ground. Don't overdo it. Set aside.
In a large, dry stockpot over medium heat, combine the cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, coffee powder, mustard, ginger and garlic powder. Toast the seasonings, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer the seasonings to a plate or small bowl and set aside.
Return the stockpot to the burner over medium-high. Add the oil and heat, then add the onion. Saute until the onion is just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the chopped pork tenderloin and flank steak, as well as the ground buffalo. Cook until the meat begins to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the reserved spice blend, beer, both cans of tomatoes, beef broth, liquid smoke and Parmesan rinds, if using. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle bubble. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
Spoon out and discard the Parmesan rinds. Stir in the lime juice and hot sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.
Nutritional information per serving: 390 calories (110 calories from fat, 28 percent of total calories), 12g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 111mg cholesterol, 14g carbohydrates, 51g protein, 2g fiber, 649mg sodium.
Source: J.M. Hirsch,