Weekend at the smoker!

So, it was an amazingly beautiful weekend in the north Dallas area! On Saturday, I decided to try out a recipe for Smoked Chili from one of my online mentors, Susie Bulloch [Hey Grill Hey! (heygrillhey.com)]. If you don’t know about Susie’s site, please go and take a look! She competed and placed 2nd on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl with Bobby Flay and Michael Symon. I subscribe to her private site which is worth every dime, as she shares so many great tips and recipes!

So, about the Smoked Chili…let’s get smokin’!

I won’t give away Susie’s recipe, but I will tell you this…..smoking your meat and vegetables prior to assembling chili is now a MUST at our house! I have a Kamado Joe smoker (similar to the Big Green Egg), and used cherry wood for the smoke. The KJ or BGE is a smoker that you MUST invest in because of its versatility, insulation, and “smokability”. I heated it to 225F and smoked lean ground beef and ground chicken breast for about 1.5 hours in an iron skillet.

I also chopped up onions, green and red bell peppers, and fresh garlic and smoked them in an aluminum pan with a little olive oil which I balanced on the skillet handle with the meat. Like it HOT? Add a chopped jalepeno, seeds and all…it’ll kick up the heat! The veggies and meat can all smoke at the same time. If you don’t have a KJ or BGE, no worries…you can use a pellet smoker and get a similar effect. If you don’t have either, just add about a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke to the meat and veggies. It won’t taste exactly the same, but it will give you a “smoked” flavor.

Now, you can use a chili spice mix from the local grocery store, or you can make your own. I like to use things like ground cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika in mine. You also want to include a good salt (pink Himalayan or a good sea salt) and fresh ground black pepper. BUT, if that is too much trouble just get a box of something like 3-Alarm or Williams Chili kit and go for it. Season the meat and veggies before putting them on the smoker. Your neighbors will be trying to sneak a whiff of this from over the fence, I promise!

After you have smoked the meat and veggies, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the skillet and transfer into a large stock pot. Break the meat up as much as possible and heat on medium setting. Put the veggies into a food processor and chop until they are still a little chunky and not mushy (unless it’s your preference…it will still taste good!). Add these to the meat mixture.

As far as making the “soupy” part, you can use whatever you like, but I like the flavor of Campbell’s Beef Consomme best and use 2 cans of this plus a 28 oz can of tomato puree, 1 can of Hot Ro-tel tomatoes, and a small can of tomato paste. If you want a sweeter chili, try using a bottle of Heinz ketchup in place of the tomato puree. Sounds terrible, but just remember, if you get it too sweet add a little salt. If too salty, add a little sugar. This is YOUR chili, so flavor it how you like it!

Once I have stirred all of that together I add a stout beer or two, depending on how thick or thin we want it. Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and reduce to low heat for about 1-2 hours. It will thicken up, but if it’s too thin for your liking, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour in cold water, mix it well, and drizzle into your chili at the very end. This usually does the trick!

We make a batch of cornbread to eat with our chili, and we garnished the chili with shredded Colby Jack cheese, sour cream, and sliced jalepenos. I can tell you, this was the BEST chili I have ever made, and we have been eating the leftovers up!

I hope you have enjoyed this tip for making chili! Come back again and I will teach you how to spatchcock, brine, and smoke a chicken! After all, this is Smokin’ Hot Chix!

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