Planning Ahead, Chili for the Big Game

My husband is from the U.K., so he has only recently become familiar with Superbowl Sunday and the grad tradition of eating like a jerk while watching others exert themselves on the field.  He loves it.  This Superbowl Sunday, I will be making him this hearty and flavorful chili.

Chili is one of my favorite foods and the hotter the better.  Husband is not a big fan of spice, so this recipe is intended to be on the mild side.

Since I have a very different definition of what is “spicy” or “hot”, I ask husband to taste it before adding the next round of spice/pepper.  If he tells me his max heat has been achieved, I stop adding to the chili and just adding some sriracha sauce to my bowl at the end.

Some tips for controlling the heat in your chili dish: peppers hold their heat in the seeds (it’s called capsaicin), so if you have spice adverse folks in your house, make sure you add the seeds in batches rather than one at a time, to give you a chance to taste for the heat. I normally start with the seeds of one jalapeño and reserve the other seeds until it has cooked for some time and husband has pronounced a verdict on its spiciness.

Try wearing rubber gloves when handling jalapeños; this will ensure that you don’t accidently end up with capsaicin all over your hands and irritating your skin.

If you want to add more smoky flavors, try adding smoked paprika and/or harissa.

If you want to make this vegan, substitute one pound extra soft tofu for the ground meat.  Vegan andouille is available at Whole Foods, but I am pretty sure it contains gluten.  You can try making your own, but many of the recipes I found online did have gluten, like this one.

I got my rubber gloves at the grocery store!

2 jalapeños, finely chopped, seeds reserved

2 links Andouille sausage, casing removed and finely chopped

1 bell pepper or half of each of a red and green pepper, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 lb. ground turkey (for a lean dish of course beef will also be awesome)

1 t onion powder

1 t smoked paprika

1 t coriander

1 T tomato paste

1 ½ cans chopped tomatoes (about 42 oz. total)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (if you like a lot of beans in your chili, add a second can of beans, the type doesn’t matter and increase the canned tomatoes from 1½ to 2 cans)

1/3 cup BBQ sauce, I recommend the Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

dash of each:

all spice

curry powder

cayenne

crushed red pepper

chili powder or harissa

1. Make a shallow cut into the flesh of the sausage and peel off the casing and chop.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion, sausage and peppers.  Cook 5 minutes or until onions and garlic are soft and translucent.

Remember to let it simmer before you taste for heat.

3. Add ground meat and the jalapeños, including seeds (if you are going for mild, remember to hold some seeds to the side).  Cook through, about 5 minutes.  While the meat is cooking, break it up with a wooden spoon.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir together.

4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally.

5. Taste for heat and adjust seasoning (add more jalapeño seeds if it is too mild).  Serve in bowls, top with avocado, cheddar, etc.

I recommend slicing some avocado on top and squeezing a little lime over it.  If you are in the mood for cheese, try putting the chili in heatproof crocks, like these Staub ones, which come in tons of colors.   Top each serving with cheddar and smoked Gouda and put under the broiler until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Some folks like to add cilantro, but Husband is one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap.  It’s a medical fact, to some folks, cilantro tastes like soap.  So if we want a fresh herby boost on our chili, I use arugula.

My finished dish is topped avocado with fresh lime. Avocado is fatty, but its monounsaturated fat, in moderation, will fill you up and not take a toll on your heart.

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