Super Bowl Snack, or "The Great Chili Disaster of 2012"

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ATTENTION NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS FANS: You want to make a great big bowl of chili for the Super Bowl, right? Of course you do; we all do. I've done it every year forever. Well, I have a killer recipe for chili. Just check out the Edible Brooklyn Cookbook, where my recipe was recently published. Follow the directions carefully, and then, if possible, share it with any members of the Patriots you happen to see. Preferably BEFORE the game.

And now, New England Patriot fans, please excuse me. I have a message for New York Giants fans. Please, stop reading now. Buy the Edible Brooklyn Cookbook and begin to make my chili recipe.

ATTENTION NEW YORK GIANTS FANS: Okay, now that we're alone, I have an URGENT message for you. Normally, when someone says, "I have a killer recipe for chili," they mean that, in their opinion, their version of chili will rock your world.

Well, I have a killer recipe for chili. Unfortunately, I mean that quite literally.

See, I got an email recently from Margaret, in Fort Worth, Texas. She apologized for a "non-Soundcheck question," but she had just gotten the Edible Brooklyn Cookbook and was eager to try my contribution.

Well, I was flattered: Margaret's from Texas - and while the odious Dallas Cowboys are also from Texas, people there KNOW chili. And then I was annoyed: I had never gotten word that the book was coming out, nor been given a chance to look over the page before it went to press. So okay, at least it was out there, and apparently looking pretty tempting.

Then Margaret asked her question, and mild annoyance became horror. "Did you really mean to say eight dozen chilis in the recipe?"

Of COURSE I didn't mean to say that! I usually use about a dozen - and even that's hot for some people. Eight dozen??? That's 96 chilis! Poor Margaret had duly bought eight dozen dried chilis and, following the recipe, had started by trying to soak them in boiling water. She sent a photo of the evil-looking, viscous goo that resulted:

I scrambled to find the original email I sent to Edible Brooklyn. Yes, it said "about a dozen." But it also said not to be worried about the large number of chilis involved - it seems like a lot but it's really not. Margaret had seen this and thought it applied to the mountainous - nay, volcanic - amount stated in the book.

Fortunately, Margaret had the good sense to stop with the recipe before checking with me. But what if someone actually made this recipe, as published, and tried to eat it? Or feed it to, say, a group of New England-based athletes prior to a particularly important contest?

The folks at Edible Brooklyn had apparently tested the recipe in their kitchen, and liked it. ("A complexly flavored chili," they wrote, and "a keeper.") So it must have been in the actual publishing that the mistake happened. I don't know how, and I don't know what anyone can do about it since the book is out there. But I really do have a killer chili recipe, and I would like to share it here, now. Please use this, and not the published one. That one is a real Killer Chili Recipe, best left to the Patriots and their fans.

Chili Con Carne

There are as many chili recipes as there are chili cooks, but what made this one specifically Brooklyn, for me at least, was the discovery back in the 80s of a neighborhood bodega that sold dried Mexican chilies – the essential ingredient in this recipe. That bodega is long gone, and various types of dried chilies can now be found readily, but at the time I thought it was a wonderful thing to be able to make Chili Con Carne that actually used chilies instead of chili powder. I’ve probably never made it the same way twice, but this is a pretty basic version. Real chilies, whole cinnamon, and unsweetened cocoa give this a real depth of flavor. Don’t be put off by the number of chilies – this dish is spicy but not ridiculously so. Says me, anyway…

For an easy gluten-free version, just substitute gluten-free beer (Bards Tale, Red Bridge, etc) or red wine for the Guinness.


About a dozen dried chilies, mix of guajilla, poblano, and/or ancho varieties
3 chipotle chilies
1 habanera chili
3 large onions -  2 finely chopped, 1 quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 green peppers, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb sausage meat
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (28 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes
3 cans (15 oz) of beans – red kidney, pinto, black, in any combination
1 bottle Guinness stout or other dark beer (or gluten-free beer or red wine for gluten-free chili)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 16oz bag frozen corn niblets, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put all the dried chilies, including the chipotle and habanera, in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

2. When chilies have softened, let cool somewhat. Remove chilies from water but reserve the liquid. Cut off tops of chilies, slit them open, and using the side of the knife, scrape away the seeds. Wear kitchen gloves if you’re not used to handling chilies. Put the chilies in a large blender, add the quartered onion, and the reserved chili liquid, straining out any stray seeds or stems. Blend until smooth.

3. In a large pot, heat olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add 2 chopped onions, chopped peppers and garlic. When softened, add the beef and sausage. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until the meat loses its raw, pink look. Add the cinnamon, cumin, paprika, oregano, basil and stir. Add the contents of the blender. Add tomato paste and stir until the paste is mixed into the liquid.

4. Add the canned tomatoes, and the beans. If you like your chili thick, take half a can of beans and mash them to a paste before adding to the pot. Then add the beer, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Bring just to a boil. Then add frozen corn, if using. Lower heat to a simmer, cover loosely, and let it cook for at least an hour, preferably two - or until halftime, whichever is longer. Stir occasionally.

5. Add about 1 tablespoon kosher salt and a teaspoon or two of black pepper. Stir, turn off heat, cover loosely again, and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

For garnish:

grated cheddar cheese
Yogurt or sour cream
1 large onion, finely diced

Serves 12, more if you’re serving other dishes and/or wimps.