The weather has been really weird lately. I don’t regularly (or ever) complain about 80-degree, flaunting my legs in shorts type of weather, but seriously weather gods? It’s FEBRUARY. How am I supposed to go snowboarding next week if you keep this up?!
Mostly I’m upset because I have SCD (Seasonal Cravings Disorder) and my body is having difficulty determining what my cravings are. It feels like summer outside and all I can think about is sipping on watermelon margaritas, chicken curry sandwiches on croissants, and fresh salads with lots of charred corn. You know… SUMMER FOOD. I feel like I got robbed of hearty stews and excessively cheesy casseroles because the last thing I feel like doing is snuggling up with some warm comfort/winter foods.
So I woke up this morning, groggy and confused about what to make for family dinner with my housemates. I also had no idea what to write about today, since I’ve pretty much gotten all the important wine rambles out of the way already. I gchatted my roommate who was probably on her lunch break at Pharm school because I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping in until noon and asked for suggestions. Without missing a beat, she insisted I dedicate this post to “tenesmus.” This is definitely a testament to how well she knows me– I LOVE LEARNING ABOUT THE GI TRACT! So obviously, I googled tenesmus right away and this is what I got:
Tenesmus is the feeling that you constantly need to pass stools, even though your bowels are already empty. It may involve straining, pain, and cramping.
Awesome, right? I FINALLY KNOW THE WORD FOR THIS FEELING. I swear, living with a pharmacist is the shit. (pun) You can most definitely depend on me to pass along nuggets of medical information I’m privy to through this blog.
Anyways, finding out what tenesmus meant got me thinking… damn, chili sounds hella good right now. Am I the only one to come to this conclusion after this intellectual adventure? I responded to my roommate by asking if it’s too hot of a day to eat chili? She said yes. I asked if a cold beer would negate this opinion? She said yes. (Although I know she was really thinking OH HELL YES.) So it was decided: I’m going to make chili today!
Now, don’t be too intimidated, but I was a member of the winning team at this year’s Annual Chili Cookoff at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, so I ain’t no amateur. You don’t believe me? Well then fine, skeptical Harry, here’s some photographic proof:
That’s award-winnin’ chili in that pot!
The trick to winning a chili cookoff is having a 7-foot-tall pirate.
But back to the point! CHILI. IT’S SO EFFIN DELICIOUS.
As someone who has just come out of the pescatarian shell and finally resubmerged in the world of meat-eating (well, except for beef. I’ve never cared much for beef. If you cooked me a steak, I’d probably blush and thank you endlessly, then cause some sort of diversion with my years of secretly trying to learn how to throw my voice and swiftly donate the steak to my dog. Make me a lamb steak and you’ve got instant access to my pan– uhh, heart– however), I was really excited to make a carnivorous chili!
I decided that I’d cause a bit of global warming myself with this chili if the weather gods were going insist on being so ridiculous, so instead of the typical ground beef or turkey, I used hot italian sausage. I should probably preface this with the fact that I am obsessed with putting hot italian sausage in everything (that’s what she said), and also that I like my food spicy enough to make me cry. It’s probably why I have both such excellent sinuses and an ulcer. You have to pick your battles in life, I guess. I also threw in a bunch of cayenne pepper, fresh jalapenos, and red chili flakes that you can omit if you like having a full lined stomach. But seriously, what’s life without a few gaping holes in your intestines?
ALEXHA’S TENESMUS-INDUCING CHILI:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 fresh jalapenos
- 2 lbs hot Italian sausage
- 3 tablespoons hot Mexican chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 70 oz. canned stewed tomatoes with juices*
- 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can sweet corn
- 1 can cooked chipotle peppers
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 bottle of beer (I used Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo extra IPA)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Warm extra virgin olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, add the chopped onion, jalapenos, and bell pepper. Cook until slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally (about 3 minutes).
- Add the garlic and hot Italian sausage and cook until it browns
- Add chili powder, paprika and red pepper flakes, stirring to combine. Cook the spices for a few minutes, stirring often.
- To the pot add stewed tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, corn, tomato paste, chicken stock, beer, oregano, tarragon, bay leaves, cloves, celery salt, garlic salt, freshly ground black pepper and chipotle peppers. Bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- While waiting, drink the rest of your ice cold beer and throw on a few episodes of Psych.
- To serve, spoon chili into soup bowls and top with shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream, and some Kleenex… it’s going to make you sweat!
In case you’re a visual learner like me, here are a few pictures I took during the cooking process. Sorry they’re not very good; I decided to photographically document my culinary genius about a third of the way into the makeshift recipe, and also my kitchen has the most horrific lighting situation. (My kitchen is too dark for me to take cool tastespotting-worthy photos #firstworldproblems) I must go invest in an external flash ASAP. But hey, I tried. Next recipe will be better, I promise!
Is it customary to chefs to gloat about how awesome their recipe is? No? Well too late. I’m not one for formalities anyway…
THIS CHILI IS THE SHIT. Its aroma is a smokey chili, thanks to all those chipotles. It’s definitely got heat, but not to the point where it scorches all your tongue and you have absolutely no sense of taste anymore. It’s got that perfect kick in the throat that lets you know you could probably breathe fire if you wanted to, but there’s so much going on that you forget about morphing into a dragon. Instead, you focus on the complex layers of flavors: there’s the obvious spicy, and the savory that comes from the awesome Italian sausage, plus a hint of earthiness from the cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon, and lastly, there’s the sweet that waits until the very end to flash its sweet smile and win over your heart. Toss in some sour cream and Mexican shredded cheese and you might as well forget about dessert– you’re going to be having seconds and thirds.
I’d like to dedicate this chili to my brother, who bought me the dutch oven I’d been dreaming of for years this last Christmas. If my chili becomes famous enough, I’d also consider donating some proceeds to the Tenesmus Research Foundation. Lastly, I’d like to thank Beer, for being my inspiration– I never would’ve been able to do this without you.