Grim's Buffalo Chili

[UPDATE from 2023: This is an early chili made in the manner that my father preferred. He was from Tennessee, somewhere between the Texas Red chili tradition and the midwestern 'Cincinatti' chili traditions. Appalachia is also poor country, so this version has a lot of beans which are cheaper protein than meat; Texas chili doesn't use beans because beef was plentiful there. My later chili recipes use fewer or no beans, and not canned ingredients as a rule. -Grim]

Cassidy, often inspitorial in her posts, has a piece on comfort food. This convinces me to share my recipe for chili. You may want to serve this with tamales or Southern style cornbread; or just by itself. It does go well with beer. Start with a double-fistful of fresh-chopped jalapenos (or hotter, if you prefer). Do not core and seed them first: include the whole pepper except the stem. In a hot dutch oven or black-iron pan of at least several quarts' size, sautee these in beer (preferably Murphy's Irish Stout; Guinness will also do; failing that, any beer). Use no more than half a pint of the beer, reserving the rest for the cook. Once it is simmering, add one pound ground buffalo. Lean ground beef can be substituted. Once this is browned, and you have cut it apart into small chunks while stirring it, add enough chili powder* to make the whole thing a threatening color, much darker than the chili you want to eat (as you expect to add more ingredients, which will lighten it). Add three freshly chopped tomatoes (or one can of minced tomatoes, or one can of tomato sauce) once the peppers begin to soften. At the same time, add one chopped medium red onion, as much chopped cilantro as you expect to want, and simmer more. Add as much minced garlic as you expect to want. At last, add two normal-sized cans each light red kidney beans and Bush's best chili beans; or one large can each. Salt to taste, but you may not need much b/c of the canned beans. If you taste it and it doesn't have enough chili powder, add more; you can also add dried, ground ancho or chipotle peper at this stage if you desire. Allow to cook through. It'll be better tomorrow, but good enough tonight. Finish with shredded cheddar, diced onions, and jalapenos. Serve with cornbread, over tamales, or straight up. Serve with habenero pepper sauce, since this is a toned-down version of the chili suitable for the whole family. If your wife whines about her mouth being on fire "after just the first bite!", you've done it correctly. Her response should look something like this: When you get there, you're done. Add the pepper sauce to your own, and eat with good cheer.

* Update from 2024: In later years I learned that chili powder is entirely inferior to using whole dried chiles. I learned chili from Dad, who was from Tennessee although we had family in Texas. I was greatly surprised to learn how much difference it makes to use whole dried chilies that you roast in black iron until shiny, boil until soft, and then puree with the other spices and herbs, tomatoes and a little fresh water (not the water the chiles were boiled in, which can make things bitter). Try it that way instead, and it's at least twice the chili that the chili powder version is.

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