“Saturn 5” Chili

First things first. The name. This is called “Saturn 5” chili because, like the legendary booster it is named after, it has three stages. And trust me, despite this not being a “hot” chili, there is a definite “rocket effect” the next day. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So – the main deal here is that this chili uses already cooked beef – either a traditionally smoked brisket or the world-famous True North Emergency Brisket – to build the basic beef flavour without having to sit there and brown the chunks of beef all afternoon before you even get started. And – in my humble and pretty-much-correct opinion – you get a bigger and better beef flavour this way than any traditional browning method. The flavour experience is more “warm” than “flaming hot” but the heat does sneak up on you, so don’t poo-poo this as some sort of gutless white-bread wet-lettuce chili. After a full bowl you will have a nice roast going on. Promise.

No pictures in this one, because once you get the stuff in the pot it pretty much looks all the same. Full details and some notes about the ingredients (there is one that you might not be able to find) after the jump.

Ready for launch!


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This chili has a noticeably complex flavour, and as such uses a pretty (excuse the pun) beefy ingredient list. I’ve broken it into sections to keep things generally manageable. Read through the whole mess to make sure you see all of the ingredients in both of the first two stages before you start.

STAGE ONE:

Approximately 1.5 kg (3 – 4 pounds if that is the way you roll) of cooked brisket
3 large canned chipotle peppers (the kind packed in adobo sauce)
1 large can crushed tomatoes (see “Tomato note” below)
1 can tomato paste
1 can original Ro-Tel (if you can’t get this, see “Ro-tel note” below)
1 bottle beer, a darker ale would be ideal
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup any good ol’ Frank’s/Durkee hot sauce (see “Hot sauce note” below)

Tomato Note: I can my own tomatoes out of the garden each year, and I used two 500 ml jars. But that doesn’t really come out to a full liter because of headspace, so if you use the typical large can of crushed tomatoes (798 ml or 27 fluid ounces) you will be just fine.

Hot Sauce Note: I use Franks because I think it has a nice clean flavour profile and a mellow and even heat. If you have a favourite, feel free to substitute, but remember that the amounts of other spices here are based on the heat of Franks. You may need to experiment if you are swapping out sauces.

Ro-tel Note: Ro-tel is awesome, and you may laugh at one little can in a big pot like this, but it really makes this come alive. However … if you live in the Great White North you may have a bitch of a time getting this. If you can’t get the Ro-tel, don’t panic. We can fake it by adding add some extra sweet peppers and a jalapeño in stage 2. It won’t be quite as awesome, but it will still be very good.

Cut the brisket in to small cubes – about the width of your thumbnail is good. Finely chop the chipotles. Put a large and heavy dutch oven on the stove and add the cubed beef, the chopped chipotles (and the adobo that was stuck to them!) and the rest of the stage one ingredients. Put the heat to medium, and stir the mix a few times as it comes up to heat (do not boil!) and once it is steaming, turn the heat down to low-medium-low and put the lid on. Simmer covered for 2 hours.

STAGE TWO:

A bit of olive oil
1 medium onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon course-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons chili powder (ancho if you can get it)
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (if you can get it, if not you can leave it out)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon oregano

If you couldn’t get Ro-tel:
1 large green bell pepper
1 jalapeño

In a nice big skillet, heat the olive oil. Dice the onion and chop the garlic, fine but not down to a mince. Add the onion and garlic to the heated oil and sweat it over low heat for about 10 minutes. And I mean sweat. Not sauté, not fry. You don’t want to brown the garlic. If you couldn’t get the Ro-tel, seed both peppers, dice the bell and mince the jalapeño – add them to the skillet at the same time as the onions and garlic and sweat them down too. When the onions and garlic are soft and translucent, add the rest of the spices. Stir over low heat until the spices bloom (your nose will tell you, don’t worry).

Add the onion/garlic/spice mixture to the main pot. Stir well. Cover and simmer for two and a half more hours.

STAGE THREE:

1 large red bell pepper

Dice pepper. Remove the lid, add diced pepper, stir well, and simmer for 30 minutes more to concentrate the flavour and thicken it slightly. Eat steaming hot.

This makes a nice big pot, and you don’t have to eat it all right away. If you are having the gang over you can cover the pot and hold on the stove over low heat for hours. If you are just cooking for yourself, keep a couple of big portions of the leftovers in the fridge and freeze the rest. This freezes amazingly well in single portion containers.

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