This week’s Martha Mondays is Texas Red Chili, from the October issue of Martha Stewart Living (p. 62) chosen by Megan at MegansCookin.
Chili has always been one of those quick meals I’ve pulled together using ground meat and a package of seasoning. I’ve never made it from scratch, so this was a new frontier for me. First stop, the grocery store. I’ve never bought dried chilis. I didn’t even know where to find them! I ended up buying what were called “New Mexico” chilis since that was the only type they had. I had no clue if they would work.
The first step in the recipe involves the chilis. You’re supposed to put them in a skillet on the stove and blister them. I did this. Then you remove the stems and seeds. No problem. Then you soak them for half an hour. Once that’s done, Martha says to put them in a blender with some of the soaking water and puree. This didn’t work! The chilis just sat at the bottom and sides of the blender while the blades ineffectually whirred. I tried it on several settings and I tried adding more water. I got nowhere fast. So I dumped it all in the Cuisinart. This worked a little better, but it did not puree it by any means. I had big pieces (maybe 1/2 an inch to an inch) of chilis that simply did not get any smaller. After what felt like hours of scraping and trying over and over again, I gave up and just used it as it was.
The recipe uses chunks of beef, garlic, onions, cumin, oregano, jalapenos and pureed tomatoes in addition to the chili pepper pureee. It cooks for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This part went well. But when I tasted it, I realized it needed a lot of help. First of all, I just can’t imagine chili without beans, so I dumped in a can of kidney beans. It was very bland (which I could not believe – I was sure it was going to be firey hot!) so I added some chili powder. I also added some more tomato. Finally I got it to the point where I thought it tasted pretty good, but I had one big problem – the pieces of dried chili were tough and stuck to your tongue. So I stood at the stove and picked them out one by one as best I could. There were a lot of them. I’m glad I got them out though, because it was almost inedible with them in it.
I served this with some grated cheese. It was good, but I would never use the dried chilis again – they were such a disaster. I suppose it’s possible to make this with fresh chilis, but I don’t know if I would go that route either. I did like having pieces of beef in it as opposed to ground meat – it tasted more like real food. Mr. MarthaAndMe thought this was ok. Teen Martha wouldn’t try it and Dude Martha didn’t like.