Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas


Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

The Lovely Wife has jetted off to the great Midwest, leaving me behind to sort the pages of an unruly poetry manuscript in the company of Apollonia, the six-pound terror of Texas, and Ozymandias, her doting, but worried, twelve-pound shadow. As noon departs I note hunger’s first tentative touch, and head to the grocery store for supplies. I’m craving chili, but not having a particular recipe in mind, decide to see what strikes my fancy.

Ah, the sun at last!
No more rain, the yard’s drying.
Our dogs, shivering.

For my chili base I’ll sometimes toast dried ancho peppers, rehydrate and puree them, but I’ve recently replenished my chile powder stock (ancho, chipotle, New Mexico, cayenne, smoked paprika) and feel just a tad lazy, so I’ll use the powdered stuff. But I pick up a poblano, some jalapeños and two onions, and on my way to the meat counter, grab a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes and some spiced tomato sauce. I examine the beef and nothing entices me (ground beef is anathema, and don’t even mention beans!), but a few paces away I spy a small pork roast, and place it in my cart alongside a 16-oz bottle of Shiner Bock and a bag of chocolate chips.

Knowing my plans, the
cashier smiles and shakes her head.
Milk chocolate chips?

Shuffling the manuscript pages, I ask the dogs for their input. But Apollonia declines, preferring to nap in a sunbeam, and Ozzie is too busy pacing to bother with poetry. So I turn to the impending dinner, chop onion, dice peppers, mince garlic, measure out the various chile powders, cumin and oregano, cube the pork, and brown it in the Dutch oven.

sits by the front door and moans.
Wind rattles the house.

Once the meat is seared, I saute the veggies, dump in the canned tomatoes and chile powder mixture, add the meat, coating it with the spices, and then pour in the Shiner Bock and heat it all to a near-boil before reducing the temperature and allowing it to simmer for an hour, at which point I stir in about four ounces of the chocolate chips and a teaspoon of garam masala. I let the chili simmer for another hour, then remove half of the pork, shred it with a fork (it’s very tender), and return it to the pot, stir, taste, and add a little salt. Done. I ladle out a bowl, pour a La Frontera IPA, and eat. Not bad, I think. Not bad at all for the first chili of the season.

Beer in hand, I burp,
the dogs stirring underfoot.
Only four more nights…

* * *

This first appeared in December 2015. As I await our first frigid weather of the year, I’m wondering what to cook tomorrow…


71 thoughts on “Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

  1. Ok, So this will help me, because I like chili, but I always make it with beans. I have heard on numerous occasions that chili is not suppose to have beans. My boyfriend cannot tolerate beans, and has often asked , can you make it without beans; and I respond, “Then it’ll be just meat.” But this sounds more than appetizing. I am definitely going to have to try it this way. And the pup is adorable. I love the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chili originated in San Antonio as a beef and chile stew, without beans. Non Texans frequently add beans to their chili, but then what they’re making isn’t chili but a stew with beans. If I add chiles to a cassoulet, is it really a cassoulet? Or if I make deep dish Chicago-style pizza with a thin crust, is it truly deep dish pizza? Ha! And then there’s ground beef – who uses ground beef in stews? Arghh. Having said all that, I have cooked many variations of chili, and have even used beans (though not without some measure of guilt). 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Atta boy. Had me worried. But for the Deep Dish I agree. A recipe becomes what I make of it and knows not it’s name, but I the flavor. Aye, there’s the rub, and yum.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dang! Now I’m hungry and thinking I’ll walk down to the Mexican place for some a la Mexicana, being Sunday morning and 40° (cool, finally!) on the Texas gulf coast. Enjoyed this story very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Serendipity!. I just finished two breakfast burritos and sat down with my coffee to catch up on my reading. When I was in San Antonion I was lucky to get taken under the wing of a friend’s mother who was happy to meet an Anglo and a northerner who really loved Mexican food. She introduced me to a lot of great pork recipes and even taught me to make my own mole sauces. You brought back a bundle of wonderful memories with his post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this Robert! At the end I was ready to crack open an Uncle Leo’s IPA and join you… as a matter of fact… cheers! (coincidentally, I just finished a bowl of left-over Chili I made last night).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ooooh, garam masala. Thanks for that tip! In addition to using similar chili powders, I add Aleppo and Marash peppers, a little allspice, and cocoa powder. Sometimes a little vinegar. And when I use a friend’s home-canned romas, the chili has an amazing background sweetness. Oh, and I add carnitas from a local taqueria. I am now so hungry for chili, I can’t believe it’s evening and too late to start the process. Guess there’s always tomorrow. Enjoy your alone time! I’m envious.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Chili and Chocolate! Yumm! That Chihuahua is so cute! Its been a while since I’ve logged in as our site was down for a week. Inviting you again to check us out and like/subscribe to us for our works. As the site was upgraded and improved so we need to have many followers as the site was renovated and all the followers where kind of lost see you there!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is lovely the way this is written. Love the reference to Ozymandias. I am someone who cooks a lot with garum masala but never thought of putting it in chili. I put the chocolate in at the end and sometimes use red wine instead of beer. But I have always used ground meat though – sounds a bit messy scraping all the pork.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post was the very first haibun I ever read and I only knew it was such from the comments when you originally published- thanks for the intro into a form I really love. I’ve been meaning to email you about half a haibun…the intention is still there…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lol back to the fun war of what’s what and …authentic? – the last bastion of racism that word. chili is one thing i dance about- i’ve made everything BIT. Icome pretty close choosing not a cubed meat thing in chili water but a hunk of meat in chili water that once cooked through is delicious for tacos or little sliders of heaven. I know places like north dakota, minnesota and michigan make a lot of dried beans up for those unconcerned with authentic 😉 but such only demonstrates the further away from mecca/heaven thing for them poor non-texan souls to not quite be correctly religious. 😉 and indeed they are, the hamburger chili/soup thing i can handle – but I am revolted when someone tries to serve a burrito with french fries. OMG! HEATHANS!

    Liked by 2 people

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