Chunky Beef Chili

I can’t say that we ever get really cold weather, but some days when it is overcast and the wind is whipping off the ocean, it is fairly cool. On those days I really love a good stew or soup – or even better, chili.

Early this week I had all the ingredients needed to make a mean chili.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 005The first thing I did was make a spice blend of dried chili peppers.

San Clemente 8.3a.2013 004A friend brought these back from the states, I have only seen dried chili peppers in a small open air market in Quito three years ago. It is not something that you would find at Super Maxi on a regular basis. But adding different types of ground dry peppers adds not  so much heat but intense flavor to your chili sauce. Even when we were living in the US and able to find all sorts of prepackaged chili mixes I still added this special touch to bring an authentic quality to my chili.

Beef Chunk Chili with Fresh Red Beans

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of Lomo Fino (tenderloin of beef) cut into bite sized pieces (I know, steak, but we pay $2.50 / lb. off the truck for it)
  • green and red peppers cut into chunks
  • tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 lb of fresh red beans, washed and picked through
  • red onion cut into quarters
  • carrots cut into large pieces
  • garlic crushed
  • celery cut into large pieces
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of chili seasoning (see recipe below)
  • large bunch of cilantro chopped fine (save 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on finished chili)
  • vegetable oil for browning meat
  • 1/2 Cup of red wine (drinking variety not cooking wine)
  • 4 cups of beef or vegetable stock (fresh is best but a few cubes in water will work)
  • pepper
  • salt and dried red pepper flakes to taste…if you used stock cubes use salt sparingly

First I took one of the large New Mexico Chilies and three of the smaller Chili Japones peppers and with scissors cut them into small strips, seeds and all. Added 1/2 teaspoon of my dried yellow pepper flakes but first dry cooked them on low heat on the stove until I started to cry and Joe needed to leave the house…To this I added cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and garlic powder. Honestly I have no real measurements so use your imagination. Do not burn, just gently sauté until you can smell the spices. Set aside to cool. Add this cooled mixture to a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

Brown the meat with a small amount of vegetable oil in a large pressure pot until the meat is colored on all sides and the juices are sealed in. Do this step in stages so as not to crowd the pan or you wind up boiling the meat. You want to seal in the juices so the heat should be high and the oil hot. Remove meat and set aside. Turn up the heat and add the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the balance of the ingredients plus the meat back to the pot, stir and bring the liquids to a boil. Turn down the heat and secure the lid. After the pressure valve begins to rock, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the amount of veggies added. Remember do not overfill the pressure pot. Keep the heat low and the pressure valve rocking slowly or your food will scorch to the bottom of the pan.

I do not like seasoning with salt until the meat is completely cooked. Taste for seasoning and add salt and extra red pepper flakes at this time.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 007Sprinkle balance of cilantro on chili and serve with rolls or crackers. Honestly this is a great dish and can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days to intensify the flavors even more. If you are not into spicy, use more of the dried peppers and less of the hot pepper flakes and cayenne. Buen Provecho!

Another Episode of Little House On The Costa

Some days I feel like I am living the part of Caroline Ingalls in Little House On The Prairie. I am not complaining – it is a unique and wonderful feeling, bringing me back to a simpler time. I can remember my Mother and Grandmother canning pickles, plums, apple sauce and even meat. Memories of my father butchering a cow or pig and all the adults cutting up the meat, making sausages, packaging the meat in white butcher paper and labeling them for the huge freezer my parents had in the basement. Looking back, it was a wonderful time. My father and mother were proud of their accomplishments, storing foods for many months for a growing family that required a great deal of food on a limited budget.

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Above are the first four of us with Dad, missing is Mom who is taking the picture I’m sure and not yet born John Jr. and Lori Ann.

Here in Ecuador we are basically going back in time, very few processed foods are available and if you can find them at the big supermarkets they are expensive and the varieties are very limited. So to make our lives better we do many things from scratch an example is canning hot peppers, mango jam and assorted pickles and even sauerkraut, which I made this past week.

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My latest is grinding my own pork for sausage and beef for hamburg. I purchased over 5 lbs of res lomo fino (beef tenderloin) last Saturday, I honestly think it was still warm from the cow. I have learned to wrap these tenderloins in clean kitchen towels and place them on a wire rack on the lowest point in the refrigerator for several days to allow the meat to dry out a bit and age. This has worked wonders for the tenderness and taste of the beef. After a few days of aging, I got out my trusted ceramic knife (a gift from Joe purchased from the states) a good cutting board and started the task of cleaning the meat for steaks and chopped meat for hamburg. It is a labor of love, done because it is important to have good food, prepared with love. It took me over two hours to complete the task, package my treasures and cleaning up. On Thursday I purchased 5 lbs of pork tenderloin and put a dry rub on it and placed it in a plastic bag back in the refrigerator overnight, the next morning it was already in the oven wrapped in triple thickness of tin foil for a 4 hour marathon. It emerged tender, juicy and extremely tasty. The following is the recipe for the dry rub and the BBQ sauce to go with it.

Pork Dry Rub

  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons natural meat tenderizer
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt or 1/2 tablespoon crushed celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix together and apply to pork. Rub into the meat and allow to season overnight in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Southern Vinegar BBQ Sauce

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Mix the first ten ingredients together, stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, allow to cool for several minutes. Blend vinegar and basil in blender until basil is pulverized. Stir vinegar mixture into other ingredients and allow to cool completely, refrigerate.

It was actually fun preparing these things from scratch. Living in Ecuador can be daunting to some folks, our attitude is what else have we got to do with our time. Having that attitude towards any job makes the job less tedious and more rewarding.