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The taste of chili in about an hour

Mike Bleech Outdoors Columnist

Chili culture in the Warren area has developed its own nature through the past three decades. Still most households do not eat homemade Texas Chili either because they do not know how or because it requires too much time and effort. Just the cooking part of Texas Chili takes 3-1/2 hours. Then there is slicing the meat into 3/8 inch cubes, slicing chilis and other ingredients, frequent stirring, various seasoning dumps, a close watch on cooking heat. Total time involved will be about 4 hours.

How would you like to cut that into a little over an hour and still get the real taste of Texas Chili with a relatively simple recipe? I’ll call it Pennsylvania Chili.

Before getting started you will need the following ingredients:

— 1-1/2 pounds of ground hamburg

— 4 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups of water (I call this coyote juice, but the story I tell is that it is made by tying the front legs together and the back legs together of a coyote, place a sturdy stick inside the knot at each end and start twisting the sticks in opposite directions.)

— olive oil spray

— 1 medium red onion chopped

— 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp white pepper

— salt to taste

— 1 tbsp spicy seasoning (Jimmie’s Chuckwagon is our favorite. Creole seasoning works well.)

— 1 level tbsp chili powder

— 1 rounded tbsp of a blend of jalapeno chili, habanero chili, serrano chili, Cajun red bell pepper, green sweet pepper, sage, basil and dill (This is a seasoning blend from my garden dehydrated and powdered. Diced fresh ingredients work very well.)

— a few shakes to taste of either Franks Louisiana Hot Sauce or Trappey’s Louisiana Hot Sauce

— a few shakes of soy sauce (mushroom soy sauce if you can get it)

— any reasonable amount of chopped chives (This is for added nutrition.)

— 1 tsp ground cumin

— 2 tbsp pickled garlic

— 2 tbsp brown sugar (We use Splenda Brown Sugar Substitute.)

— tomato paste

— tomato sauce

— bag of tortilla chips

Spray the inside of a pot (we use a cast iron Dutch oven) with olive oil, then brown the meat. Stir often to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. While the hamburg is browning add chopped onion, salt, black pepper, white pepper and spicy seasoning. A liquid level should increase while browning. If it is not visible close to the top of the meat, add some coyote juice.

Add the remaining ingredients in the order in which they are written. This really is not as important as it would be with the regular 3 hour cooking time of Texas Chili, but I am guessing that once you realize that you can make good chili you will try cooking real Texas Chili.

No measurement is given for the tomato paste and tomato sauce. Start with the paste and use a 6 ounce can, then add sauce until there is a red gravy thick enough to hold on a tortilla chip but not so thick that is can be piled on a chip. Have an extra can of tomato paste on hand just in case it is needed. A 15 ounce can of tomato sauce should be more than plenty.

Simmer the chili for about 45 minutes with just enough heat for what Worth Hammond called a ‘9 bubble boil’. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.

Eat the chili on tortilla chips. It goes along with the outdoor spirit of chili. This is a perfect meal for backyard dining. Add grated cheddar cheese for taste or to tame down the heat if it is too hot for someone.

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