Thursday, 6 January 2011

Black Beer Chili (Session 47)

I haven't written a Session post in ages, almost two years it seems, so when I saw the call for this months Session topic, Cooking with Beer, I reckoned it was time as, after all, I cook with beer as much as I can. Anything stew-like normally gets a dose of beer thrown in, usually on a one for the pot, one for me basis. I don' keep very good track of what I try, but on some dishes I make regularly, I've tried all sorts of beers in different quantities to find the right balance. Chili is one of those dishes I make with great regularity, and let's face it, is there a beer geek who doesn't have a chili recipe that includes beer? I'll be surprised if this is the only Session post with a chili recipe! Last New Year's Eve was the right moment for my last batch, but with some tweaks on my normal recipe to make it a bit special for a party. The recipe, or an approximation of it, is below.

I like adding beer to things. In small quantities, like in the chili below, it adds a little depth, a touch of sweetness, and a little bite. Too much, and it might dominate in the wrong way, especially true with bitter beers. I've made beer sauces that just turned too bitter (I made one for a leg of wild boar I was roasting using Hövels Original), and Irish stews that were too roasty from too-generous a helping of that cooking stout, Guinness, so the choice of beer can make huge difference. I think a good way of choosing a beer for cooking with, at lease on a first pass, is whether you'd drink that beer with the food anyway. A Weissbier gravy goes really with pork, for example (and some day I'll share my cider/apple juice/cranberry sauce, which I found goes great with roast duck).

But experimentation is the best fun, and throwing a few glugs of the beer you are drinking while cooking can sometimes produce the best results, a bit like this recipe. Let's see if I can remember this. For eight people, you will need:
  • 1Kg Ground beef
  • about 150g Smoked blutwurst (say a 10-15cm length), finely diced
  • 2 Onions, diced
  • Red pepper, diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • Olive oil
  • 6 tsp Paprika
  • 4 tsp Cumin powder
  • 4 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (optional, I sometimes add a little)
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Crushed black pepper
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 400g cans of peeled tomatoes, diced up a bit
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 1 330ml bottle of Köstritzer, or other similar Schwarzbier
  • 300ml of water or beef stock
  • 2 400g cans Red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 400g cans Black beans, drained
  • 1 400g can of those big-ass white beans, drained
  • 2-4 pieces of Dark chocolate

What to do with all that stuff:
  • Large pot, little olive oil, brown that beef, draining fluids so it fries a little, and doesn't stew. When done, put into a bowl and set aside.
  • In the same pot, a little more olive oil, fry the onions till soft, throw in diced red pepper, crushed garlic and smoked blutwurst, and continue till onions just begin to brown.
  • Return browned beef to the pot.
  • Add all the herbs and spices, except the bay leaf, stir and fry for a minute or two.
  • Add the diced, canned tomatoes and tomato puree, stir.
  • Add the beer and water/stock, throw in the bay leaves. Stir, and leave till it's bubbling a bit again.
  • Add the drained beans, stir, drop in the pieces of chocolate.
  • If you have fresh (or frozen) chillis, drop a few in whole (I like the chocolate habanero).
  • Turn the heat down low, put on tight-fitting lid and leave to lightly simmer for at least an hour, or more if you can.
I sometimes leave the lid off for the last half hour to let it reduce a bit, but if it doesn't look thick enough for your tastes, add a tablespoon of corn flour, stir well, and leave to simmer for 30 mins or so.

Serve with a little sour cream, an array of chilli sauces to allow people to heat it up to the level they like (this one is fairly mild, as my 5 year old son loves it) and whatever other stuff you like with chili. I'll also put out a small bowl of dark chocolate pieces, for people to throw into their bowl, but be careful, a little goes a long way. And of course, serve with the beer you made it with.

Perfect for freezing, and even better after a day or two sitting in the pot. Guten Appetit!


ZakAvery said...

'blutwurst' - I bet it's even more fun to eat than it is to say!

Ed said...

Sounds like black pudding to me!

Michael Duffy said...

I know it's a beer blog but gotta add a pic I say!

From the top of the hearty bowl.

Mark said...

Lovely stuff! You can't beat a good chilli. It's something I have to prepare for a couple of days in advance to get it just right. I made one with a bottle of Brewdog Paradox and it was fantastic. I now want to try other imperial stouts! I also think a rauchbier would add a really interesting flavour, echoing the paprika. Only one way to find out!

Barry M said...

Zak, I almost chant it, before slipping into "Blut für der Blutgott"!

Ed, it's almost like black pudding, and in fact I'd bought a couple of types to try and find one that got close (for breakfast on New Year's Day), but there's no grain in these babies, and some have big lumps of fat, and are not the most appetising. There's a similar taste, but not as good, in my opinion. I'll add a pic of the one I used in this :) I miss black pudding. There was something I could get up in Münster that was closer in texture, but the spicing was wrong.

Speaking of pics, Michael, you're dead right, it does need a pic, but I only spotted the Session call yesterday, so hadn't planned on writing this recipe down. Next time :)

Mark, yeah, I think a Schlenkerla Märzen could work really well! Which version of Paradox did you use? I drank a few on NYE, and I reckon the Isle of Arann would be great, but the Smokehead might be too phenolic for the chili (depending on the proportions I guess). Drank pretty good tho! Must post some notes. A german whisky fan with us that night loved them.

Elektrowok said...

Thanks for the recipe. Everyone at the party commended it.
I also made a batch of the Schlenkerla version and it was good too, but I think I do prefer it with Schwarzbier.

Barry M said...

Thanks for commenting on it! You just reminded me I should make it again :D Although I've about 2kg of chili in the freezer, but it's beer- and wurst-less :)