Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chili de Estephaniá

Today marked my first attempt at making chili. I've been wanting to try making it for ages, but just never seemed to find the time before. Since there was no class for me today, it was the perfect opportunity. Three factors made this attempt particularly unique:

1. I have never eaten chili before. That's right, not even once in my entire life. It's hard to believe if you know me now, but I was an exceedingly persnickety and picky child who would eat very little in the way of variety, so I refused to ever try chili. As an adult, I've never really had the opportunity. Of course, I could have had cheap chili from a fast food restaurant, but I knew that if I ever tried it, I would certainly want to try good chili, not a nasty cheap imitation.
2. I decided not to use someone else's recipe. You see, I have an aversion to using other people's recipes for anything. I glance at recipes for guidelines or inspiration, then I always deviate in some way. I like all of my recipes to be my own - sort of like the way a (reputable) writer refuses to copy someone else's work. Now I don't feel that there's anything wrong or lazy in using someone else's recipe (for those who do), I just feel like it takes the fun and the creativity out of cooking (for me). So, for my first chili attempt, I glanced over a friend's recipe to get an idea of what usually goes in the stuff, then I wrote out my own recipe with several changes, additions, and substitutions. I have a pretty good grasp of different foods and spices interact and complement one another, so my method of cooking generally has a high success rate. Once in a while an attempt of mine flops, but even then I benefit, since I always learn from my flops. I like the freedom of being able to throw things together by instinct, rather than being shackled to recipe books.
3. This chili is both beanless and beefless. I do not care for the flavor or the effect of beans, so I opted against using any. And beef, while delicious, is quite high in saturated fat, so I usually reserve it for special occasions. Instead of beef, I chose to use ground turkey. It has a little less flavor than ground beef, but is much healthier, and still tastes quite good. It does cost a little more than ground beef, but sometimes healthiness means paying a little more (not overpaying; there is a difference).

I know that the best chili is supposed to be cooked for a long time, but I didn't really have the patience, so I opted to only cook mine for about an hour. While my chili was cooking, it made my entire apartment smell so enticing that my mouth kept watering! I had a very hard time waiting for it to cool a bit before digging in for that first bite! I even noticed Jasper appreciatively sniffing the air. No, he didn't get to try any chili; I was too concerned that the spiciness might hurt him.

And the result of the chili-making experiment was:

Delicious! I think I could have gone a little further in terms of spiciness, but overall, it was tasty enough to justifying having seconds. I'll have to play around with my recipe some more (maybe this weekend?), but it has definite potential, and is certainly already very enjoyable for the taste-buds. If you'd like to try this chili yourself, here is my recipe:

Chili de Estephaniá

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 finely minced medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomato with green chilies (drained)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed sweet basil leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pour the olive oil into a wok and add the ground turkey, red and green bell peppers, onion and garlic; cook over medium heat. Salt and pepper (use a pepper grinder) the meat, and stir periodically until the meat is light brown, then drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring periodically.

I'll be sure to post later if I find satisfactory changes to this recipe.

No comments:

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"