The Many Faces of Chili

Chili can have many looks. It can have beans. It can be without beans. It can have meat. It can be without meat. If it has meat, it can be ground. Or it might be chunky.

No matter what variation it is, there probably hasn’t been a chili that I haven’t liked.

If I had my druthers, chili would hot, hot, hot. My favorite is called 10-Alarm Chili. It’s a concoction I came up with years ago. The name comes from the fact that the chili has 10 kinds of chilis in it.

It’s a little too spicy for my wife, but most of my friends love it. There have been ice fishing forays on some mighty cold days that were made bearable because of the chili’s heat.

I’m always looking for new chili recipes. Just recently, George Whalen, principal at Lake Agassiz Elementary School in Grand Forks, passed along a venison chili recipe he found in Field and Stream magazine. It’s quite similar to mine. In fact, it might even be hotter. It’s loaded with hot peppers and has a lot of tomatoes. It also contains a few other ingredients that have piqued my curiosity, including Guinness beer, red wine and black beans. The recipe looks like a keeper.

Here are both chili recipes, just in case you might like to try them.

Editor’s Chili
2 pounds venison, cut in bize-size chunks
¼ pound thick-cut bacon, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
¼ of an 8-ounce can of chipotle chilies, seeded and chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 bottle Guinness or other stout beer
½ cup good red wine
1 can whole plum tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cans black beans
Chopped cilantro
In a large pan, saute venison until just cooked. Drain and set aside. Cook in batches if necessary to keep from crowding in the pan.
In a large pot with a heavy bottom, saute bacon over medium heat until brown and has given up its fat. Remove and set aside.
Saute onions and peppers in bacon fat, stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper cinnamon and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add venison and bacon. Stir well and cook for 1 minute.
Add honey, molasses, beer,wine and tomatoes. Mix well, bring to a boil and lower heat to low.
Cook at a slow simmer, uncovered, for an hour and stir frequently. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more chili powder or chipotles if you want more heat.
Add beans and cook for another hour, continuing to stir. The chili is done when it’s thick enough for your liking.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
10-Alarm Chili
3 pounds ground chuck or buffalo
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 banana pepper, chopped
1 Hungarian wax pepper, chopped
4 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 cherry peppers, chopped
4 dried cayenne peppers, chopped
4 dried chili peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 quarts whole tomatoes
1 quart tomato juice
1 cup sugar (can be brown)
1 can kidney beans
1 can pork and beans
1 can red-hot chili beans
Brown meat and drain. Brown onions, peppers, celery and garlic in some of the meat drippings.
Mix all the  ingredients in a large kettle. Cook for 3 hours. Serve with grated cheese.