Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Five Dollar Chili (p.35)

I normally don't like to make chili during the summer. Melissa has no such scruples. She loves a spicy, meaty soup any time of the year. Still, I was glad that by the time I got around to making Roast Beef's Five Dollar Chili, the temperature had dropped into the 50s at night in LA. Cool enough for me. This is not to say I didn't have some trepidation about making this chili. When I bought the cookbook, Chris Onstad was still willing to personalize it with a sketch and signature. This is what mine looked like:
In case you can't read that, Roast Beef is telling me, "Don't make the chili" (by the way, I was thrilled that my personalized drawing was Roast Beef). My assumption is that this has something to do with the fact that chili makes you gassy. I support my assumption with the fact that my wife ordered this as a gift and the recipe starts with the line, "This recipe is basically for a man who is alone in his life." Well, I make my own chili quite a lot, so our apartment is no stranger to farting. We're cool with it. Melissa wasn't going to let a little gas stand in the way of a chili.

To start, despite what the recipe says, I wasn't not able to make this chili for five dollars. I spent more than that on the stew meat. Granted, I bought organic, free range beef instead of the cheap stuff, but I priced the plain-Jane beef cubes out at the regular store and I still doubt I could make the chili for five bucks. Beef just ain't that cheap. Still, it certainly didn't break the bank, especially since it made enough for two or three meals. I had never used stew meat cubes in making a chili before. My recipe calls for ground beef (I often use turkey- you can't taste a different, what you taste is the beans and spices). So really, this was a whole different animal.
But at the end of the day, chili is pretty much chili. It was very tasty, but not shockingly different from the stuff I regularly make. I usually cook in a slow cooker, but I could cook it in a put just as well. The real difference was in the texture. Even though the beef flaked easily (think a pulled pork barbecue sandwich), it was a little harder to eat with a spoon than ground beef. A large cube just takes up too much spoon real estate, whereas ground meat blends nicely into a soup. This chili also only used one can of beans, while my recipe uses at least three. The gravy that beans sit in inside the can almost certainly adds more liquid to the mix than what I found in my pot. As a result, the Achewood chili came out thicker than my usual fare. This wasn't a bad thing, it just reminded me of the kind of chili you can buy in a can (which I use to make chili dogs). I wonder if that's the intention of Roast Beef's chili- to use as a topping. He does list several meal possibilities at the end (eggs, rice, etc). I imagine it would me good on spaghetti in a classic Cincinnati chili. I guess I just expect a more soupy quality when I make chili. Like I said, this wasn't a knock on the recipe. It was delicious, and I enjoyed finishing it over the course of a couple of days.

And the farting? Well, no more than any other day in the Selzer Apartment. I apologize if that offends you; you shouldn't have asked. What's that? You didn't? Oh right, I just offered it freely. Sorry about that.



  1. I usually use turkey, too, in any sort of dish where the flavoring will overpower the original flavor (ie tacos). I've USED cubes, but they tend to make it seem more like a spicy stew than chili to me. I DO, however, like to use cubes of chicken cooked until they get to that same stringy consistency in lieu or beef or turkey sometimes; that's tasty business.

    I also sometimes make "pepperoni pizza" chilly, which uses pepporoni, tomato sauce, and cheese in additon to the beans, tomatos and (less than usual) turkey/beef. Bari, the Italian grocery store next door, sells freshly-sliced pepperoni that it is to die for. It's about 6 bucks a pound, but 1/4th pound is a LOT of pepperoni slices!

  2. Heeheehee, you said "farting." :-)