Scott Cohen of the Cordon Bleu in Austin has a fond place in his heart for his chili.
“This dish is a tribute to my wife, Jamie, whom I met while I was working at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas,” he writes in “The Texas Hill County Cookbook” (ThreeForks. $24.95). “On our first date, we had a chili contest in her apartment complex. I offered to make it with fresh pasta, which I did for the restaurant, but Jamie, a native Texan, thought that was sacrilegious. She never saw kidney beans in chili, either, but I won her over, and it became the thing that we do together whenever we can because it reminds us of our first date.”
The story doesn’t end there. “This dish also won first place in a James Beard chili cook-off,” say Cohen, formerly of San Antonio’s Brasserie Pavil, Watermark Grill and La Mansión del Rio. “Make this chili ahead of time, and use a big pot. Serve it with some fresh crunhy bread and a dark beer, such as Shiner Bock.”
16 ounces dried kidney beans
6 cups water
3 ½ teaspoons chili powder
4 ancho chiles, soaked, seeded, and finely diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
½ tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Salt, to taste
4 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds canned stewed tomatoes, finely diced
5 ounces tomato paste
2 smoked ham hocks
Wash beans in cold water, drain. Cover in mixing bowl with cold water, about 2 inches over beans and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and add 6 cups water, chili powder, ancho chiles and bring to boil in sauce pot; simmer 2 hours. Add poblano pepper, jalapeños, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cracked black pepper and salt to taste (about 3 teaspoons to start). Cover and simmer 3 hours. Let mixture chill about 6-8 hours or overnight.
In large sauce pot, sauté ground beef until golden brown; add onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft. Remove from stove and drain excess grease. Add beef-onion-garlic mixture to bean mixture in large sauce pot. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and soaked ham hocks. Bring to boil and simmer 2 hours. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and spices and water, if chili is too thick or not spicy enough.
Come and get it!
From “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook” by Scott Cohen and Marian Betancourt