It's been chilly here in Yankee Land. JG and I decided to combat the weather (and our raging colds) with our very own Austin 63-Way Chili. It's a hybrid of the Cincinnati chili favored by his Missouri relatives [where the number refers to how you order it and we usually made it 3-Way, with cheese, over pasta] and Mexican mole. It's a smokey, earthy, wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs treat that gets even better as it ages.
I get positively giddy about leftovers.
Why 63? Well, I don't remember exactly. We came up with a list of toppings and foundations [which has since been expanded] and JG somehow came up with variations totaling 63 to the 3rd power... but that was too long for a name, obviously. We also opt for condiment bowls so everyone tops their own; numbers other than 63 have no meaning in this context so don't ask me what 52-way is -- it's just its name.
If you're leery about chili over pasta, think of it as really thick spaghetti sauce. If you're leery about chocolate powder and spices in your spaghetti sauce, remember this is not actually spaghetti sauce; it's a chili-mole hybrid.
See? Nothing to be afraid of here.
Recipe: Austin 63-Way Chili
Part Chili, Part Mole, Entirely Delicious
Can you tell I just use a couple measuring spoons when I'm making up a recipe? I highly recommend combining all the spices in a small bowl and the wet ingredients in a larger one before you begin browning the meat or soy substitute. You can prep the condiments while the chili is cooking.
I've done this in the pressure cooker, reducing the broth to 1/2 cup and cooking at pressure for 12 minutes. I think you can do this in a slow cooker, but, again, you'd probably need to reduce the broth to ~1/2 cup since the lid stays on and less evaporates off.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (or other ground meat-type product)
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Ancho chile powder*
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican, 2 tablespoons if fresh)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons masa harina** (or fine ground cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (optional, you can also add hot sauce to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 30 oz can diced or whole tomatoes, au jus
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut butter (crunchy or creamy) or tahini
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 lb. cooked whole-wheat pasta
2 lbs. oven-roasted yucca or potatoes
8 oz shredded cheese (we mostly do cotija or crumbled goat cheese, but cheddar works, too)
16 oz can black beans, drained, rinsed and warmed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 white onion, minced
hot pepper sauce, like Cholula or Tabasco
Over medium, heat oil, add onions and meat (or faux meat), and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and meat is browned, ~6-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, ~1 minute. Add spices, stirring until the spices are fragrant and toasted, ~30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients, scraping the pan bottom to loosen any stuck browned bits.
Increase heat to high. As soon as liquid boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chili is a deep reddish-brown and somewhat thickened, ~1 hour. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve over cooked pasta or roasted tubers. Top as desired.
*Ancho chile is dried poblano. It has a much smokier flavor than the New Mexican chile powder made from dried green chiles. It's worth seeking out and since McCormick's markets it, I don't think it's too hard to find.
**Masa harina is ground corn flour treated with mineral lime, typically used for making corn tortillas. Tortillas are pureed into moles to give them body and I used the masa harina here in the same vein. Alternatively, you may omit the thickener entirely and just cook the chili a little longer.