Chilly out? Chili in!
Dear Rozonda Thomas (of music group T.L.C.),
For years, I’ve considered you the epitome of cuteness, the pre-Aaliyah “homegirl wifey” type. Your beautiful smile, “chill” persona and “baby hair” were things of beauty, mirroring my teenage fantasies of the perfect girlfriend. I still remember you and your bandmates of TLC in the “Baby Baby Baby” video………oooooooh how I wanted to be that teddy bear.
However, I regret to inform you that since I began using beef short ribs in one of my favorite cold weather stews, you are now only my second favorite “chili.” (In your physical absence from my immediate sight, I was left with no other choice.) On the other hand, if you would like to challenge this outcome, I’ll gladly arrange a “Battle of the Chilis” at your convenience.
Your “Baby baby baby”
But on a serious note, folks… A bowl of warm and hearty joy, chili has many stories regarding its origin. Some legends suggest the recipe was spiritually given to Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain after an “out of body experience.” Others say that 18th century settlers from the Canary Islanders to San Antonio combined peppers, onions and meat to create it. The earliest written description of the dish is from a Texan named J.C. Clopper in 1828, describing it as being created by San Antonians out of a need to make meat stretch, then combining it with peppers to create a stew.
According to historians, Mexican-American women known as “Chili Queens” began selling “chili” in San Antonio by the late 19th century. By the early 1900s, and for years after, chili parlors became extremely popular all over Texas and other states. Several places, including Texas, California and New Mexico, lay claim to having the best chili, with the Lone Star State going so far as to having it named the official state food.
Everyone has their own way of making it. I know a few people who use game meat (deer, lamb, etc.), while others use ground beef (grass-fed), chicken or just vegetables, and with, or without beans. If you like beef short ribs, check out a version that I sometimes cook, minus the chili peppers.
*3 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, well-trimmed and meaty
*2 onions, chopped
*2 bell peppers, chopped
*4 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes LOW SODIUM, pureed
*1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained
*1 c beef broth
*1 T chili powder
*2 t cumin, ground
*½ – 1 t cayenne pepper
*2 T olive oil
Preheat oven to 325.
Heat a large ovenproof pot to medium high; add the oil. Add ribs, in batches, and brown the meat on all sides; when done browning remove the ribs and its juices from the pot and place in a bowl. Turn the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper to the pan, cooking for about 5 minutes (or until the onions are translucent), stirring occasionally (scrape the bits from the bottom of the pot). Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pureed tomatoes and ribs and bring to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender.
Remove from the oven; tilt the pot and spoon off the fat. Take out the ribs, place on a cutting board, and cut the meat from the bone; chop in small pieces. Add the meat and beans to the chili, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.
More About the Chef:
Chef Cordell passionately pursues educating others how to build healthy cooking and eating habits for life via cooking classes, consulting (personal, corporate, restaurant), public speaking and more. Through his work, he looks to offer community based solutions for education of, and access to, healthier food solutions.