Stinque Recipe Challenge

For 30 years I’ve been cooking chili recipe after chili recipe to find the best one. In all that time, I’ve never found one that turns out as good as Wick Fowler’s chili kit.  So a couple weeks ago I gave up, ordered a case, and now there’s 4 pounds of chili on the stove.  Gonna eat some, freeze some, and take some down to my doorman. Dinner will be a chili mac. More after the jump.

The recipe says to cook it for half an hour.  I add two extra cans of red wine and slow cook it in a Dutch oven for about 3 hours – much tastier and more tender.  Also, I dice a red pepper and add that during the last hour of cooking, as well as a can of corn (drained).  Serve over spaghetti or macaroni and top with grated cheddar and chopped red onion. Heaven.

From the package:


Combine Ingredients in Package with: 2 lb of ground beef; 1 – 8 oz can of tomato sauce; 2 – 8 oz cans of water. 1. Brown 2 lb of ground or cubed beef. Drain fat. 2. Add the following and stir: 1 – 8 oz can of tomato sauce; 2 – 8 oz cans of water; seasoning packets (salt optional), except packets labeled Red Pepper and Masa Flour. For hot chili stir in the entire red pepper packet; for medium chili add 1/2 the red pepper packet; for mild chili omit red pepper. 3. Cover and simmer 30 min or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. For thicker chili, stir Masa Flour into 1/4 cup warm water. Stir into chili and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Make it your own by adding one or more of the following: Chopped onion or green peppers when browning the meat; 1 – 15 oz Can of kidney or pinto beans; 1 – 15 oz Can diced tomatoes (drained); Top it off with shredded cheese or sour cream. Makes 6 – 8 oz servings.


Hm. What could the meatless among us use to replace the flavor of the meat?

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: When I was a vegetarian I used tempeh and diced carrots, peppers, onions, and celery. Worked pretty well.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: Boca Bits. Can’t cook them long, though. I don’t know of any meat substitute that does well over the long haul although the gluten mock meat might do.

I’d most likely go veggie on it and use eggplant and diced potatoes to replace what would be meat. To which I would say: what’s the point.

@Tommmcatt Loves The Giant Floating Head: Portobello mushrooms.

But that’s chili from a box recipe. AND any Texan would tell you that you never put beans in chile.

Here’s mine from scratch. The secret is the dehydrated chiles and the use of the chili water. The chiles give it a smoky slow burn.

And for the truly Texan experience, serve it over Fritos and sprinkle shredded cheddar and chopped white onions and jalapenos over it.

SFL’s Texas Chili

5 dried ancho chilis
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
vegetable/olive oil
1-2 large white onions, diced
3-6 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
3-1/2 pounds of chuck/stew meat cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano [note: this is NOT regular oregano – you have to buy this in the Hispanic foods section of the market]
1-2 cans stewed or chopped tomatoes and their liquid
salt/pepper to taste
water as needed
flour to thicken the chili
Cilantro (optional)

Take the dried chiles and remove seeds and stem. Cut up into pieces using kitchen scissors. Hydrate by putting in a bowl and adding hot or boiled water. Set to the side while prepping the rest of this.

Toast the cumin seeds in an ungreased skillet. Using a mortar and pestle or smaller pan, crush the seeds coarsely and reserve in a bowl.

Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft and browned (about 3-5 minutes). Add the meat and sear it with the onion and garlic until the pink color is gone. Drain any fat off.

Remove the pieces of rehydrated ancho chiles in a stewpot. Keep the “chile water” in the bowl in reserve.

Put the meat mixture in a stewpot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, chili powder, paprika, red chili flakes to the pot, stir to mix well. Add the cans of tomatos and their liquid. If the mixture is not covered with liquid, add the chile water or regular water (whatever combination you want) to cover the mixture. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 to 2 hours, adding water (or chile water) as necessary to keep it thick. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a flour sifter (or a spoon if no sifter), slowly add flour of fine consistency to the chili. Stir it in, making sure there are no lumps. Only add enough flour to make the chili have a thicker consistency.

Season with the Mexican oregano, add chopped cilantro (optional – or have separate for people).

Serve with sides of shredded cheese, chopped onions, and chopped jalapenos. Served on top of Fritos is especially good.

Bonus recipe using dried chiles.

Chipolte Corn Soup

2-4 dried chipolte peppers [depends on preference]
6 cups chicken broth
1 medium white onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed [depends on preference]
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
4 cups corn, either frozen or off the cob
1/4 cup dried tomatoes, chopped
3 cups shredded chicken
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Take the stems out of the dried peppers and shake out seeds. Use kitchen scissors to cut into pieces.

Combine the chipoltes, chopped onion, garlic, broth, cumin, corn, and dried tomatoes in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Add the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice. Simmer another 10 to 15 minutes.


@blogenfreude: @SanFranLefty: So. much. work. The (non-cooking-inclined) mind boggles. I will happily wash each and every dish from here to Sur La Table if someone would do that sort of cooking for me.

@flippin eck: The soup is ridiculously easy. SOOOO easy and sooo yummy. You can even buy one of those roast chickens at the supermarket if you don’t want to cook and shred the chicken. And use frozen corn instead of cutting it off the cob. Chopping the onions, garlic, and peppers is the longest part of the recipe.

@flippin eck: As I told Bloggie, unless someone else cooks it or it comes in a can, I ain’t eating it.

Yes, yes, I know. But I’m reading voluminous iPhone programming docs right now, and I have my time-management priorities.


If you can’t find the dried chipotles, most mega-mart grocery stores carry the canned variety. It’ll say “chipotles packed in adobo sauce” or similar.

The remainder of the can of chillies are great diced up, and served on top of eggs with melted cheese, or add them to a weak commercial salsa to heat it up a bit.

I always keep a few cans in the pantry for emergencies… ;-)

@pinkoscum: Add crumbled tortilla chips to the scrambled eggs and chipoltes just when the eggs are starting to harden (probably when you’d add the cheese), and voila, you have my favorite breakfast dish (next to biscuits and country gravy) of migas.

Speaking of cooking, where the hell has Prommie been?

@flippin eck: 170 W 74th … the chili is hot and the pasta is almost done. You’ll have to scrub the Le Creuset, but it’s not that bad.

Here’s one many friends in Texas have raved over. One pot, minimal prep work; at my age [69, no comments,please] I’m lazy too.

I heat mine up a bit with my canned homegrown mesquite-smoked habanero mash, about one tsp per bowl, and them ain’t yer wimpy orange grocery store habs. They’re descended from crosses between Red Savina, Fatalii, Devil’s Tongue, and Congo Black, with a recent infusion of Bhut Jolokia. I got 62 baby Hab plants in the ground yesterday; they’ll produce about 30-45 pounds of pods over the season.

Just so you know I’m a serious chilehead.

The only prep work is opening cans, chopping onions and crushing garlic; then a stir every 10-15 minutes, depending on burner heat.

2 large chopped onions sautéed in a little oil
6 lbs. lean ground chuck or 93/7 burger, or coarser-ground chili beef over med-low heat till burger browned, stirring often.
4 tsp. crushed garlic
1 can Campbells tomato soup
2 10 oz. can Rotel mild tomato/chiles
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce

Spices – if more than a year old, throw them out.
5 Tbsp chili flakes, or a bit more if powder. Start with less, sample an hour before done, and add more if needed.
2 Tbsp oregano flakes
2 Tbsp ground cumin [comino]
2 Tbsp cilantro flakes or 1/8 cup fresh shredded leaves
2 tsp sugar [or not]
Salt to taste [about 1 tsp]

Brown/wilt onions first in a little oil, then add and lightly brown the beef, then add all other ingredients and simmer 3 hours [spoon off if fat/oil pools], stirring occasionally.

And no freaking beans!

@SanFranLefty: Mmm. Last time I had migas was at a place in Austin on Congress, just north of the river: Dos HermanasLas Manitas? Delightful…

@RevZafod: Yes, but do you speak soothingly to your chili plants, and provide soft mood lighting and romantic music when cross-breeding them?

@flippin eck: @nojo: We’re having my favorite tonight, which is anything My Cyn makes. He’s doing something with butter, shallots, capers, and white wine that he’s going to put over halibut steaks. Meanwhile, I drink wine. It’s an excellent arrangement.

@RevZafod: I put my chile plants in way too late last year, and although we got a decent haul of dirtweed jalapenos, the habaneros never really ripened. This year I’m not even there to get them in by the Mother’s Day drop-dead date.

@flippin eck: [but just between you and me, I don’t want anyone else to know I resort to it. Wendy’s chili is great, I think. You can ask for extra onions or grated cheese, you don’t have to cook beans or open cans of them, there’s no dealing with browning the ground beef and getting rid of the grease, no dirty dishes to wash, and if you’re not feeding a family on it, it’s pretty economical.]

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: trust me – follow the instructions I gave, and it’ll be vv good.

@ Promnight

I caress each seed lovingly with tweezers before starting it in late February in Park Seed Biodomes in the heated greenhouse, select only the best for 3″ potting, and put them out in the garden after all danger of frost is past in holes cut by hand thru weedblock over soaker hoses watered by timers reprogrammed as needed thru the summer.

As for crossbreeding, my attitude is that it’s none of my damned business what they’re doing with each other. The best pod people get selected for next years’ seeds. They seem to enjoy that and reward me with good crops. And they are serenaded daily by my Purple Martins thru mid-summer; natural music seems to work.

Good enough for you? Nothing to see here. No plant abuse happening.

@RevZafod: @Promnight:
that’s exactly the way i treat my ganja babies.
and i sing show tunes to them.

“As for crossbreeding, my attitude is that it’s none of my damned business what they’re doing with each other”
COTD, rev.

Las Manitas is GONE! It was the best, and had such a primo location.

I can’t even talk about it, it’s so appalling. But here’s the story.

The fucking developers who have built a shitload of condos everywhere in Austin (if you haven’t been there in more than 5 years you wouldn’t recognize downtown, South Congress, South Lamar, or the Drag) decided that they wanted to build something where Las Manitas and its related businesse were. Las Manitas was a Latina owned (I think lesbian too, just to add diversity) and also they ran the Latino arts/crafts co-op next door as well as a community cultural center. This being Austin, there was a huge community hew and cry to stop that and save Las Manitas. This being Austin, they were ignored by the politicians in the pocket of the developers. So they were kicked out of their low-slug buildings on Congress Street, unable to find a new location because rents are so jacked, and the buildings were demolished.

Then the fall of 2008 happened and all the investors in the new project went belly-up.

So where Las Manitas used to be, it’s now a FUCKING.VACANT.LOT.

And the restaurant is gone, the workers lost their jobs, the community center is gone, and the co-op selling art from Mexico and Central America is gone.

@SanFranLefty: My favorite neighborhood restaurant, Ernie’s, was 2 blocks from here on Broadway. The smoking ban killed it (no more bar crowd) so they replaced it with some Argentinian beef place. That went belly up after a year, so they replaced it with a Duane Reade. Now the block is a hole in the ground being filled with overpriced condos.

@SanFranLefty: Figgers. And depressing as hell. I haven’t been back in more than ten years, everyone tells me “you wouldn’t recognize Austin”, so I haven’t tried. I was happy when I heard that the Tower Records on the Drag shuttered, except that it had taken over a really cool movie theater when it opened and I’m sure that didn’t come back. Recently heard that my favorite club/bar, the Hole in the Wall, re-opened after being closed for a spell. I lived my first year of grad school a half block south and a block east of the Hole, on 25th st. The apartment building was leveled for – what else? – a parking garage.

Don’t tell me that east Austin has gentrified. If nothing else, there were always some choice taquerias on that side of town where the frat boys and club goers were too a-skeered of going.

@Nabisco: East Austin has totally gentrified (at least a swath going about a mile east of I-35). The best enchiladas I ever had were at this place on East Seventh Street that is now gone. Insanely strong margaritas, too. One was enough to get you drunk, two you would pass out. One time that I was at the place Willie Nelson walked in with his family and sat at the booth next to ours – I was so excited. As you might expect, he was so beyond cool and he was so chill with the staff, knew all the waiters by name and we found out later from the staff that he came in regularly when he was home and not on the road, and that he always tips at least 100%. East Austin is filled with condos and chi-chi cafes, seeing as how people realized how close it is downtown, and at the time dirt cheap prices.

A friend of mine from grade school who is a musician in Texas plays at the Hole on a fairly regular basis. Continental Club is still there, thank God. And the gay country-western bar on West 8th or 9th Street (it keeps changing names but always the same crowd).

@SanFranLefty: I am a bigger nerd than you are: my “next to me in the booth” moment happened in DC. It was Christiane Amanpour, and she was wearing a spaghetti-strap dress and looked hot … would have hit on her, but she was with her husband (didn’t know she had one at the time).

Oh, and Mercedes Ruehl almost spilled a drink on me at The Campbell Apartment.

Oh my God. I come back from my hunt and I see this? That’s what you guys call chili? I don’t cook chili, but I was raised on my mom’s Navajo woman cooks Pueblo Indian red pork chili (ingredients, red chili and pork) and green chili stews (I still love ground beef, potatoes and green chili stew). Mmm.

Chili is a staple here. Regular meals, Pueblo feast days, church and family things all have chili made by the matriarch who sets the standard for the family. Mrs RML’s mom makes a special red chili for funerals and wakes she calls chili de dolorio. It’s so good that people back in the valley where they had the ranch would say “I wish someone would die so Mrs RML’s mom would make her chili for the funeral.”

I did make chili and sopapillas from a box one time. I went to see a friend from Albuquerque in Seattle and made her red chili and sopapillas. She almost cried. Get the Bueno brand, a fine New Mexico product.

@redmanlaw: I’m fascinated by the funeral foods of different regions and cultures. Where I’m from, pound cake is the go-to funeral food, and is what I always make when someone dies. It was also the only thing I could keep down after my grandmother passed away. In Oklahoma City, you could not have a funeral reception without Kamp’s (local grocery) ham salad and pimiento cheese sandwiches. Southern Episcopalians even have their own funeral cookbook/etiquette guide: Being Dead Is No Excuse.

@redmanlaw: Please share your green chile stew recipe, por favor. Every time I go to NM I gain 5 pounds from eating it everywhere I can go.

And does MIL of RML use pork shoulder, cabrito, or chorizo in the chile de delorio?

Cabrito may sound weird, but I shit thee not I once had a fantastic red chile on the west side of San Antonio where cabrito was the protein.

@Mistress Cynica: I can’t tell you how many funeral receptions I’ve gone to in Texas where they served tamales. Best comfort food ever – starch and protein and fat for the family members who need all three of them.

I’m with SFL. I’d like to take a swing at it.

I’m really bored with the Chili recipes I have (which are the fucking same as the ones posted on the tubes and in books) and am going to write all these down.

Will try ground chuck, but it’s not a common cut (it’s ground beef or ground beef.) Had some “authentic” Tejas Chili (no beans) made from cubed beef. Great stuff.

@RevZafod: Are you serious?
You are hard core.@ManchuCandidate: When I was working in restaurants, there was a phrase we used to say a recipe is easy; “As easy as chili.” Of course, that was referring to the bland, generic, tomato-onion-green pepper-beans and hamburger stuff.

As has been demonstrated here, anything you make is what you put into it. You can do the simple, easy, hamburger, onions, green peppers, beans, and a packet of mixed chili spices, its easy, fast, and its good and satisfying.

You can increase your enjoyment, you can be a connosuer, how do you spell that? You can get into the best possible ingredients, you can adhere to purist recipes, all that is good too, your effort and care, they increase your enjoyment, both in the making and the eating of it.

I am often as obsessively perfectionist as RevZafod. Its a good thing, when its done for your own enjoyment, in being a craftsman and creating perfection, its a good thing, when done with love to present others with perhaps a new experience, something so well known as chili, but crafted and turned into something so much more than your typical chili. When you are lovingly creating art for the enjoyment of people you love.

Its not a good thing, when its really just ego and one-upmanship, then its just chest-beating.

I am fascinated by the connections between different dishes in different cuisines, which are connected by their essential cooking methods. To me, chili is a variation on a braised meat dish that is highly spiced. I like to compare it to coq au vin, or beef bourguignon, its a seasoned, slow-cooked meat dish. It starts with browning some meat, and this is the first thing that makes the difference between a good chili, and slop. You have to brown the meat, you cannot dump a bunch of meat in a pan so that the meat releases so much liquid that it really just boils in its juices, you need to cook the meat a little at a time, in a hot pan, so it browns a bit, whether its hamburger, or SFL’s quarter-inch dice, which to me is perfect for chili. Its the same first step as in coq au vin, or beef bourguignon.

Then you add aromatic vegetable, onion family things, onions, garlic. These you don’t want to burn, but, as with the meat, you don’t want to just let them simmer in liquid, they taste better with some browining.

Then the liquid, with most chilis, its tomatos, with their juice. With coq au vin and beef bourguignon, its wine. Then you add the spices and herbs, then you turn it down and braise it.

Curries, they are the same thing, just different meats, different vegetables, different spices, but the method, its the same, the finished product, its the same, a highly flavored beef braise with accompanying flavorful vegetables.

@Promnight: There are not so many cognates with european braised dishes, with chinese-style asian cuisines, I have read that it has to do with the comparative scarcity of cooking fuel, historically, in parts of asia, instead, those cuisines mostly concentrate on quick-stir-frying of foods cut into small pieces for fast cooking. Thats the style of almost all of the asian foods that have travelled here, anyway.

Cognates, thats the word, it just occurred to me, its a linguistic term, referring to related words in different languages, conected by a common root. I am fascinated by culinary cognates. That would be a great title for a cookbook, “Culinary Cognates,” which would present dishes from different cuisines from around the world, which appear at first glance to be very different, but then explore how they are really just variations on the same basic theme.

Don’t nobody use that, OK?

christianne? CHRISITIANNE??? that anti semetic blowhard?
your mother would plotz if she saw that.

“Serve over spaghetti” BLASPHEMER.

@RomeGirl: I was horrified by that as well, but had to address my more immediate concern of providing a recipe that is not based on spices in a box and beans.

@RomeGirl: @SanFranLefty: It’s a Cincinnati thing, and I lurve it.

@RomeGirl: @SanFranLefty: @mellbell: I’m living by the one pot rule these days: boil some pasta, drain, empty a can of local chili into it, stir, heat, eat. It is abysmally dull and about the furthest thing from comfort food as you can get, but I go to bed with a full belly and very little in the way of cleaning up.

@RomeGirl: OMG, I missed that the first time around, having been sufficiently concerned/horrified at the cans of wine bit.

@Nabisco: Local chili + tortilla chips + sharp cheddar = Beesco nachos. Serve with beers and other available toppings.

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