Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Brisket Chili with Ancho Peppers and Butternut Squash
For some reason, I thought we were done with the snow. Yes, I know it's still February, but I just felt like we've all endured what we can this winter. CSA's a starting to quietly be talked about, gorgeous spring flowers are appearing at Whole Foods, and there have been some teaser days in the 50s. Alas, I realize we are in New England and it could possibly snow here in April. But I'm not holding my breath.
My husband and I went to brunch with our good friends the other morning and she said she was making some pulled pork for dinner that night. She popped it into her slow cooker and was done! Braising in the cooking method of choice in these winter months and I was quickly reminded that I haven't contributed enough to the art of braising myself this season.
So this week, I will make up for it. Last night, we started with a brisket chili. When you think chili, you might think tomatoes, beans, sour cream, cheese. But there are a million variations out there and in your own little head. I've never loved beans in chili. I pick around them and they would look up at me sad and lonely at the bottom of the dish when I was finished. But we were just never meant to share the same chili bowl.
On the other hand, chili with brisket, instead of ground meat, is an added twist of texture, comfort and delishousness. The dish braised in the oven for about two hours and then I added the diced squash and simmer it for another hour on the stove top.
To start with, I sauteed some bacon and then brown the seasoned meat in the bacon fat. (Note to self: Start storing bacon fat to have on hand). The meat was seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, cardamon, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon. Meanwhile, I purreed some ancho chili that were soaking, with some crushed tomatoes. After the meat was browned, I removed it, sauteed some onions, added two bay leaves, and then added the meat back to the dutch oven. After a quick stir to combine everything, I poured in the tomato/ancho mixture, along with an Otter Creek Porter. Into the oven for two hours.
The kitchen soon smells of the sweet cinnamon and cumin, with a slight nose burn that reminded me of the ancho peppers. Two hours later, I transferred my Le Creuset dish to the stove top, added the diced squash, and let it simmer for another hour or so, until the meat and squash was cooked.
Just before served I added some steamed corn and fresh parsley. Taste before you serve. This needed a good dose of salt to bring out all of the flavors.