Friday, March 29, 2013

Jax's Chili

Ground Turkey, chilies, onions peppers cumin, garlic
Jax's Chili

South Florida woke up to 47° weather on Wednesday and it's already late March! Personally, I was thrilled because my morning run was an easy 3 miler and I was in the mood for some chili - Jax's Chili that is! I used ground turkey, but you can use beef if you prefer. My chili is not a scorching hot jalapeño laden chili either. It's got a kick that comes from dried red California chilies, green chilies and from cachucha peppers. Cachucha peppers are widely used in the Caribbean and it's the chili Cubans use most. It's not crazy hot like a habanero, but it does look a lot like one, it just has a slight kick at the back of the throat. When they ripen from green to red, the flavor is quite sweet. I think cachucha peppers have a distinct smell and taste to them and I mean that in a good way. For me it emotes memories of my dad's "encortidos de cachucha" (pickled cachuchas) that he use to make and spoon over a bowl of steaming Cuban black beans. Of course you can change up the chilies to suit your taste but if you have a chance to get and try some cachucha peppers, I think you'll start using them in your everyday cooking.  And without further ado ... Jax's Chili.

Jax's Chili

Serves 4

20 oz of ground turkey seasoned with:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of cinnamon

4 dried red California chilies, soaked in one cup boiling water, stems removed (or your chili of choice). Once softened mince to pulp including seeds and reserve chili soaking water for use in recipe.

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium yellow onions, large dice
1 large bell pepper, large dice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8-12 cachucha peppers, rough chopped (substitute with other chili pepper if you prefer)
Minced red California chili

5 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1-10 oz can of tomatoes & green chilies (like rotel)
1-15 oz can tomato sauce
1-15 oz red kidney beans
1-15 oz pinto beans
1-15 oz cannellini beans
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons Maseca Corn Flour

Pebbles like morsels
Heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Once oil starts to smoke add the seasoned turkey meat, break apart but do not reduce to crumbles, rather leave meat in large pebble like pieces (see picture). When stirring do so gently so that it keeps its pebble-like morsels. Cook until nicely browned, reducing heat as needed to keep from burning. remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium. stir in onions, bell peppers, garlic and cachucha peppers. Cook 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced red chili, stir in and cook 2-3 minutes. Add roma tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin and cocoa powder over top of the cooking vegetables and mix in thoroughly, cook 3-5 minutes. Incorporate the can of tomatoes and chilies and the tomato sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to release flavor bits.

Two ways to finish cooking, stove top or slow cooker. 
I used my slow cooker. At this point add everything from the pan to the slow cooker. Add the undrained cans of red and pinto beans, half of the cannellini beans, the beef stock and the reserved chili soaking water. Set-aside the other half of the cannellini beans and place in a bowl . Set slow cooker to low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Halfway through the cooking process, scoop out 1/2 a cup of the liquid from the chili and add to the bowl with the cannellini beans. Once the chili has finished cooking add the 2 tablespoons of Maseca Corn Flour to the cannellini beans, stir in and using an immersion blender blend until the mixture forms a thick paste. Add this to the chili and cook on high for a 1/2 hour. This will thicken the chili, as well as adding flavor from the corn flour and a buttery creaminess from the cannellini beans. You can use regular flour if you can't find or don't have corn flour.

For the stove top version follow steps above, simmer for 2 hours or longer. Once you have added the corn flour/bean mixture bring to boil and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the raw flour flavor is gone.

Serve in deep bowls and top with your favorite cheese, sour cream or crème fraîche, onions, tomatoes and crusty bread on the side. ENJOY!

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