Consider me either fashionably late or extremely early for National Chili Day, which occurs on either February 25th or 26th, depending on which source one uses. I don't remember much of February, partly because I worked long hours every day, and partly because it was a short month. The two states are incompatible.
I did, however, almost make the chili deadline. Two of the chilis were prepared and consumed, but not posted. This left the door open for chili #3, which was made and eaten on St. Patrick's Day.
The overall consensus was that each chili was delicious in its own right. No hands down favorites. This is both good and bad. Good, because each can be made again depending on what flavors one is hungry for; bad, because one has to decide which flavor one is hungry for.
Well, enough chatter. The following are the winning chilis.
The first to be made was one of the chilis from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Cooking Light. The cover photo featured a delicious-looking chili that led the way, Beef and Pinto Bean Chili.
It used hunks of beef, spices, tomatoes, and beer. I used Red Stripe lager. I also used black beans instead of pinto beans, since I didn't have pinto beans already cooked. It was very tasty, especially with sour cream and avocados as a topping.
The next chili version was from Tyler Florence. February was Tyler Florence month. The recipes were made, photographed, and consumed, but as you can tell, they haven't yet been posted. Soon.
Florence's chili did double-duty, therefore. This is his Beef Chili with Red Beans, Chocolate, and Ancho Chili Powder. I cooked up the kidney beans ahead of time, and blended the ancho chili powder using the eye-ball method, since I was halving the recipe. This chili also used hunks of beef, simmered for several hours, with some chocolate and corn meal added at the end.
This chili had a lovely depth of flavor and didn't require a lot in the way of toppings except for some grated cheddar cheese. It had a totally different flavor profile from chili #1, and was every bit as good.
Finally, there is chili #3, Boozy Beef Chili for St. Patrick's Day. I found this recipe on Susan's blog (Food Blogga), and it looked too good to pass up. So, chili with Guinness stout was on the menu for St. Patrick's Day.
Sadly, however, there was no Guinness to be had in the house. My daughter is the beer connoisseur, and she assured me that we were out. What to do, especially since no one was willing to make a run to the store just for beer? Crazy, I know.
Then, my daughter, in ultra-sacrifice mode, allowed me to use one of her precious Pipeline Porters. Brilliant! Pipeline Porter has essences of chocolate and Kona coffee, perfect, I'd say, for chili.
This chili used ground beef, a blend of spices, and a bit of brown sugar, and was much quicker to prepare than the previous two. The flavors were truly wonderful, helped along by the choice of beer. I doubt it would taste quite the same if the Guinness had been used. I cooked some pinto beans for this chili, then added sour cream, avocado, and sliced green onion as garnishes.
I think that the final test will be to combine ingredients and flavors from all three chilis and see what develops. I suspect another Pipeline Porter will volunteer. Beef chunks rather than ground beef will be the meat choice, along with a hearty spice blend and some grated chocolate.
March is now two-thirds over, so I guess I'd better get busy with baking, cooking, posting, and working. Not a moment to lose!