Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

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Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

I am comfortably nestled in this house, sorting 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.

Ozymandias
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.
Oh, this wondrous world!



* * *

I first posted this in December 2015. The recent snowfall and frigid weather is making me think about chili. Mmmmm.

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33 thoughts on “Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

    • That’s interesting – I find myself drinking very little beer these days. IPAs used to be a staple in my diet, but no longer. I still like wine, particularly the dry bubblies like cava or prosecco, but the desire for beer has waned. I wonder why that is.

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  1. I missed this first time around! “…And don’t even mention beans!” ^_^ As my husband likes to say, we went to different schools together! But oh my heart: Ozymandias… Look upon my twelve-pound shadow, ye Mighty, and despair!

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    • I wing it when it comes to chili. Basically, I just cube the meat (either beef or pork), sear it, then remove it from the pot. Next, saute diced onion (one whole), peppers (perhaps a poblano and three or four jalapenos, with maybe some red bell pepper if it’s on hand) and a couple cloves of minced garlic, then add chili powder – 3 or 4 tablespoons (I mix my own, using whatever’s at hand, but usually ancho, smoked paprika, New Mexico, chipotle, cayenne and some cumin), stir, then add the meat, coating it with the spice and onion mixture. Add the 28 oz. can of tomatoes and a small can of tomato sauce (optional), and a can or bottle of beer. Heat it to a boil, then reduce the temperature and let it simmer for an hour or so, at which point add the chocolate (4-6 ounces) and a teaspoon of garam masala (optional). Let it simmer for another hour, then remove half of the meat, and shred it with a fork – it should be very tender at this point. It’s not a quick recipe, but it’s pretty tasty. 🙂

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  2. Yummy food (and writing, too), Bob. I have not used garam masala in chili, though I admit throwing “Indian spices” into spaghetti sauce, soups, and the like. You probably ought to write the (world’s first?) hybrid poetry-recipe book!

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