Commitment Chili

I haven’t been watching the Barefoot Contessa the way I used to.  There’s something I can’t quite define about the current season of her show that I’m not enjoying.  But I happened to be watching the episode where she had Devon Fredericks on making her award winning chili and no sooner was the show over than I was online printing out the recipe.

I don’t know how many people Ms. Fredericks usually cooks for or how big her dutch oven is, but there was no way I could make the recipe without scaling it down.  Gallons of anything is not a scale I feel comfortable working in and I personally don’t have a single pot that would hold that much chili.  So I made my adjustments and got to cooking.

Now I knew that this recipe needed a long cooking time so I purposely got to work early in the day.  I like to exaggerate a little so I tweeted that I was making some crazy 6 Hour Chili.  And then about two hours later once everything was cut, seared, stirred, and the chili was actually simmering away I went back to twitter and said that this should have been called “6 Hour, 2 cutting board, 5 bowl, every utensil you have will be dirtied chili” because of the mass destruction the recipe unleashed in my kitchen.  At least I had a good long time to clean up the mess.  A few loads of dishes later, the chili was still simmering away at which point I decided that instead of calling it 6 Hour Chili, I ought to call it Commitment Chili because deciding to make the recipe calls for you to commit to get from start to finish.  There aren’t any shortcuts with this recipe.  Not in the time it takes.  And not in the ingredients you use.

So if you have a fear of commitment, then perhaps you should avert your eyes now.  Because once I say that this was some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten, you’re going to want to know how to make it.  And I can’t be held responsible for what actions you take after that.

Last chance….

…Ok, this was some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten.  It was worth the 6 hours, 2 cutting boards, 5 bowls, and every utensil it took to get that beautiful bowl of chili.  It was also worth the $20 I spent on brisket.  Like I said, there are no shortcuts.  And the brisket is really what sets this chili apart for me.  The big hunks of tender beef make this a dish that I would be proud to serve to company.  For real, if I say that I’m making 6 Hour Chili, you need to find out what time dinner is served and then just happen to be in my neighborhood around that time.

Commitment Chili

Adapted from Devon Fredericks

BAH Note:  Even after adjusting the amount of cayenne, chili powder, and red pepper flakes I used, the chili still packed a lot of heat.  The next time I make it, I need to find a way to cut back further on the spice.  Because no meal is enjoyable if it overwhelms you.  And you can always add more spice but once it’s in there, it’s in there.

BAH Note PS: After this post published I had a few folks say that the likely culprit for the level of heat was the cayenne.  Next time I’m going to turn down the cayenne to about 1/4 teaspoon and see where that gets me.  Kathy recommended “several tablespoons of ancho and regular commercial chili powder plus I throw in a couple of whole jalapenos and my chili is only vaguely hot” and over on Facebook Wendy said “The 1 tsp cayenne is absolutely blistering. Cut that back to 1/4 tsp and use additional chiles – I use a blend of chiptole for spice, smoke, and fruitiness, ancho for richness, pasilla and guajillo for a prunelike fruitiness”.  Thanks ladies.  I can’t wait to implement these ideas.

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef brisket
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped (with their liquid)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black or kidney beans

Pat the brisket dry with paper towels, cut into 1 inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat half the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and sear the beef in batches, adding more oil as needed.  Transfer the seared beef to a separate bowl.  Saute the onion and garlic in the same pan until softened, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.  Add the chili powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and cumin to the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add the green pepper, bay leaf, tomatoes and juices, and the seared beef to the pan.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a lid, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the coffee, add salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer for another hour.  Add the beans, stir to warm through, and serve.

{printable recipe}