Comfort Chili

As part of the fall season, I thought I might share some culinary ideas, specifically with regards to comfort food. For those of us who live in the more temperate regions of the planet, where Autumn is known to bring cold winds, darker days, and plenty of moisture that chills your bones, this is an essential area of knowledge!

And to start this list off right, I have decided to share the Williams’ family recipe for chili. I can’t tell you how many winters this food has gotten me through. Not only is it a warm, delicious meal that will stick to your bones and beat out the cold weather, it is also downright delicious, even when reheated. Yep, in addition to being awesome, it also keeps well and will continue to please for many servings.

Williams’ Signature Chili:
Now this is comfort food! For years my mother has been making what I still consider to be the best damn chili in the world. And though others cannot endorse this ruling, mainly out of loyalty to their own mothers and kin, they still admit that it’s damn good chili! And variations on the recipe are possible, but I generally make it a point not to stray. My wife insists that I add corn, carrots and potatoes to the mix, to which I reply in the resoundingly negative. Why? Because this isn’t stew! Veggies beyond beans, onions and garlic have no place in chili. You may disagree…

Anyhoo, here is the breakdown for a single pot. Adjust amounts based on how many you intend to serve, as this can be expected to provide multiple servings for at least two hungry people. For those with smaller appetites, I expect at least four people could eat from this and go back for some seconds. Enjoy!

1 can of beans (red kidney)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (sub soup if you’re so inclined)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minded
1 lb lean ground beef
sprinkle chili powder to taste

Combine garlic, onions, beef and chili powder in a large soup pot with a small amount of vegetable oil Cook until meat is browned and garlic and onions are softened. Add beans and tomatoes (including the liquid from the can), then add tomato paste/soup. Stir frequently and add chili powder to taste, and consider adding Sriracha sauce, chili flakes or Tabasco to add heat. Serve with buttered, crusty bread to sop up the liquid, and be prepared for a major case of ITIS!

Beer Pairing:
And of course, how could I, the GCBS, consider this recipe complete if I did not mention some fitting beers to accompany it? Well, beer and chili aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, I’ll admit. But when it comes to the various flavor and textures of this food, I would have to recommend a beer that goes down clean, or provides a smooth tawny stimulation. What’s more, hot food usually demands a beer that is either best served cold and which is crisp and refreshing, and/or something that has gentle malts and doesn’t contain too much in the way of hops. Otherwise, your tongue will be a battleground of competing flavors and stimuli, which won’t work out too well in the end.

Hence, I would have to recommend either a good clean lager or a nice smooth stout. A brown ale can do in a pinch as well, provided its not heavily hopped and nice and tawny. My personal favorites would be Naramata Nut Brown Ale, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, or VIB Iron Plow Marzen. In short, a fall beer for a fall dish! Again, these are merely suggestions, and the culinary world is built on experimentation. If you’ve got variations on this recipe and the pairing, please feel free to share them with me. And please let me know if the following recipe and pairing suggestions works out for you!

Until next time, keep warm, stay dry, and never go to bed hungry or thirsty! Winter is just around the corner…

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