Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chili To Warm The Soul

Winter can sometimes be a little bit of a culinary dry spell.  There's usually not a great variety of fresh veggies and fruit, and grilling tends to get a little problematic.....although it can be done, believe me, I know.  That being said, winter does bring out the best in soups, stews, braised meats and all those soul warming dishes that we all love that at other times of the year just aren't applicable. 

So in the spirit of these culinary treats I decided to tackle a little bit of a revision of one of my family's favorites, chili.  The chili that I am used to having usually involves ground beef, beans and some typical Mexican inspired seasonings, such as cumin, coriander, and chili powder.  Now while this version is delicious, I wanted to change it a bit, and try to infuse some fresher flavors that to me bring to memories of sunnier and warmer days.
This chili overhaul initially began as a means to use up a heaping pile of dried Pasilla chilies that were left over when I attempted (I use this term loosely) to make my own salsa.  For weeks every time I would pull out the crazy drawer in my kitchen (this drawer is actually the equivalent to the island for misfit toys) which is a mess of a drawer filled with half used containers of nuts, dried fruits, rice, pasta, and of course Pasilla chilies, I would remind myself to use them for something, to get them out of my life for good (along with every other half opened container of food junk I have). 
But of course I would forget, until I discovered a box of cornbread mix( I know, a terrible...but it is good, I swear) that my husband loves in another cupboard and for some reason chili came to mind and the Pasilla's now had a purpose.  I have to say that this recipe in particular felt like a science experiment, there was a lot of chopping and blending and stirring, and I even mixed in a little grilling just to make things extra festive!  In the end I wound up with...well...chili, just a little bit more jazzed up than before.  And the bonus?  Once less misfit in my crazy drawer.  Where's my margarita!

Three Bean Chili With Grilled Flank Steak
And Cilantro Cream

Pasilla paste:
6oz of dried Pasilla (Ancho) chilies
3 garlic cloves
1 lime zested and juiced
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup water

1 2lb flank steak
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup Pasilla paste

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions chopped
3 bell peppers chopped (yellow, orange and red)
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup beer (I like to use a good IPA)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 16oz can pinto beans
1 16oz can black beans
1 16oz can kidney beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime juiced
Remaining Pasilla paste

Chipotle Cream:
8oz creme fraiche
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro
1 jalapeno roughly chopped
1 small shallot roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the Pasilla paste place the dried Pasilla in a small stock pot and cover with water.  Boil the Pasilla's over medium high heat until they are softened, about 10 minutes.  Drain the peppers and rinse in cold water.  Remove the stems and place in a blender with the remaining ingredients.  Blend the ingredients until smooth and set aside.

For the steak rub the spices on each side of the meat, then rub the Pasilla paste on both sides.  Refrigerate and allow the meat to marinate for about 30 minutes.

While the steak is marinating heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions, peppers, and garlic.  Cook vegetables until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, the remaining Pasilla pepper paste, beer, and the spices and simmer until the chili is reduced, thickened, and the flavors combine, about 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, for the cilantro cream place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside.
Drain and wash the beans and add to the chili, cook an additional 10 minutes or until the beans are heated through.  To finish the chili add the chopped cilantro and fresh lime.  Remove the steak from the refrigerator and grill until medium rare, about 5 minutes on each side.  Place steak on a cutting board and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Thinly slice the steak against the grain and place on top of the chili.  Garnish with the cilantro cream, fresh chopped cilantro, and some grated cheese (I like a good smoked Gouda) and you're ready for a margarita in December......although a good winter beer would be excellent!

No comments:

Post a Comment