How to make chili
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 2444
The question arises as to exactly how one makes chili such that a human can eat it. The following text presents the general rules. Bear in mind that chili is a very personal food. You make it like you like it. Nothing else counts. Get used to it; you'll like it better that way.
Fetching the ingredients
Go to Food Lion, and take your credit card as I doubt you have enough cash to make this transaction work. Also take those reusable Food Lion grocery bags that you paid a buck for. If it's much of a drive, take your driver's license if you have one. I do not. I was driving tractors and trucks at the tender age of six, and I do not need the State of North Carolina telling me what I can or cannot drive. At Food Lion, park at the back of the parking lot. The extra twenty steps will do your fat bohuncus some good. Besides, you won't have to deal with the 800 other fat bohuncusses trying to park inside the store. The other 800 fat bohuncusses are an abomination to your fat bohuncuss.
Get a cart; you're gonna need it. You do not want a little plastic basket. Get a cart with wheels that turn. There is little worse than a cart with odd wheels, and you don't really need to get a workout in the grocery store. Head to the right as Salisbury expects that you will. Ignore the deli. You do are not want Food Lion sushi, no matter how hungry you are. Maybe get a pizza if you're famished, but I can tell you now that the frozen pizzas are better. Think di Giorno pizza., no matter that it's a Kraft product now. http://www.kraft.com/Brands/featured-brands/digiorno_ultimate.htm
In the produce section of the Food Lion, pick up some mushroom pieces. Two little packages. Do not get whole mushrooms. If you get the whole ones, you're just gonna chop them anyway. You might as well pay less for mushrooms swept from the floor. If you want fresh fruit and veggies, get what you want; just don't tell me about it. I do not need to know about your culinary perversions. You will need need two medium, or one huge, onion. White is best. Yellow will do. Purple is an abomination.
At the end of the produce aisle, turn left and reconnoiter the Mexican aisle. You want a quart bottle of Texas Pete. You won't need a quart for the chili, but why scrimp? You'll need about a cup for the chili, but you'll need the rest for all the other stuff you cook.
There's nothing else you need here, so head on back to the dead animal section. Look for ground beef. Call it hamburger if you want. Less included fat is better. I search for two pounds of seven percent fat or less. If they have buffalo or venison, another word for Bambi, get some, but I doubt they do. This is Food Lion, remember. Remember: you want the very low fat hamburger. You can get the other kind, but you're just going to dip out the grease from the pan later on, or you're going to have a fine crust of grease forming on the top of your chili when it cools in the fridge.
You can also pick up whole pieces of beef. It doesn't matter what kind. I usually get London broil because it's often cheaper, but you could splurge and pick up a sirloin if you want. Sometimes, you'll find packs of beef already chopped into bite size pieces. I rarely get those, even though it would save me a little time. Whatever you get, you'll need about a half pound or so, even though I use a pound. Yes, the London broil is bigger, and that's why I get it. I like having extra meat in the house.
Remember that the better time to buy meat at a Food Lion is mid to late Monday morning. About 11 a.m. is perfect. Now why is this, you might be asking. You see, the meat manager of each Food Lion schedules meat preparation knowing that the weekend will see the most sales. Of course, it's a big job to set out meat for the big weekend all on a Friday afternoon. Besides, you'd need extra help, and Food Lion does not like paying for extra help. Instead, the meat manager schedules everything with an eye to the big weekend, and slowly builds the supplies throughout the week. What this means is that Monday is the big day for meat going out of date, and it'll all be marked down substantially, often to the point where I can afford to buy it.
Marked down meat is naturally tastier. Get as much as you can because you can never have too much marked down meat. This is why I told you to bring the credit card.
Now go back to the Mexican food section because you forgot the beans. Walk on past the dried bean section. You do not want any. However, if you're feeling perversely self-punishing, roll it back to yesterday because you'll need the extra time to cook the beans. I will not go into the chore that is cooking beans from the dried state. That'll require additional provisions that can only be purchased from the State.
Instead, you want your beans in a can, preferably canned with some chili flavoring. You can find several name brands of chili beans. Don't buy any. Look a little more, and find the Food Lion chili beans. They taste exactly the same and cost half as much. That means they really taste better, twice better to be exact. You'll need two or three cans for the chili, but you can buy more so as to have handy cans of snacks laying around the house. Besides, you can shoot the empty can in the back yard.
Somewhere on this aisle, you'll find the cans of chopped tomatoes, although the label will say diced. Somewhere in the 800 varieties, you'll see a variation that includes green chili peppers. You want this kind. However, be careful. It's easy to get caught up in the brands, such as RO*TEL (http://www.ro-tel.com/index.jsp), and I can tell you already that RO*TEL is perfectly good, perhaps even excellent, but you'll find that the Food Lion brand is sufficient for this purpose. It's chili, people! With the reduced price, I find the Food Lion brand even better.
Whatever you decide, pick up three or four of the bigger cans. The little cans aren't sufficient for this purpose. However, they're just fine for use with the cans of snacking beans. Get you some if you want to economize on your trips to the store, but I prefer to keep a sharp focus on my shopping. Remember that the smaller cans also make good targets in the backyard.
Time for the beer. The beer is in the far corner of the store. You probably know your way by heart, but you can ask for directions if you need. You'll need at least two dozen cans or bottles, regardless of how they're packaged. It also doesn't matter about the brand with a few exceptions, those exceptions being the mass-produced American brands. Take Bud for an example. Fizzy water with a molecule of alcohol in all it's variations. It would be better to pick up something bottled somewhere else on this planet. Think of it as culinary travel. If you must buy one of the variations on horse urine, get the very cheapest you can find and drink it as cold as you can get it.
This is not to say that imported beer is a sure thing. Red Stripe from Jamaica is rarely worth the trouble, even when purchased on the island. Besides, Jamaica supports a social structure that is substantially homophobic, perhaps the most homophobic on the earth. The people are poor, and the country is beautiful, and it's sad to not be able to help by purchasing beer is such counts for helping. Of course, I don't drink Blue Mountain coffee either, and for the same reason. Besides, Blue Mountain coffee makes Starbucks look cheap.
There's also Corona from Mexico. The quality is erratic, and that's caused by the very reason I sometimes buy it, that reason being the beautiful, clear, painted bottle. That clear bottle lets the light reach the beer, and the light, then, spunks the beer. Not good. Not even Mexicans buy Corona, I suspect. However, a 24-pack of Corona does let you practice your Spanish.
As usual, it would be better to pay for your victuals before you leave the store. Unfortunately, social convention is now codified, and you really don't want to sample the beer on the way home. Our fair governor has uniformed representatives positioned along the street, and their duty is to give you an autograph good for several nights' room and board with the State. As tempting as a free vacation might sound about now, I suggest you avoid it all costs. Bubba already has enough girl friends.
Preparing the chili
When you get home, put the beer in the refrigerator except for one can. Leaving the rest of what you bought on the counter, take a load off on the porch, and enjoy your beer. If you're on the front porch, tip your beer to those driving by. You know they're jealous. If you're on the back porch, sip the beer while shooting pine cones off the tree with the pistol. If you're on the side porch, shoot the neighbor's mangy-butted, horse crap eating, ugly dog with the BB gun while you're working on that beer. If you do not have a porch, you are doomed. Why do you even bother?
At some point, go into the kitchen for another beer, but this time, you stay in the kitchen. It's time to make a chili. Find the large iron pot, and put it on the stove with the burner set to high. Dump in all the meat you plan for the chili. Burger first. Remember that you need to dice up the large chunks of meat into smaller pieces. I'd like to say you're going to cut a pound of London broil into many half-inch cubes, but we both know you're going to slip up, use the Metric System, and make a bunch of centimeter-cubed chunks of meat. When that happens, just remember it's chili; it's not suppose to be perfect.
Sit at the table while the meat browns. This will take a while because you probably have three pounds of meat in that pot. Notice that it's about browning the meat, not burning it beyond recognition. You're going to have to stir the meat periodically, and probably turn down the burner. Sit at the kitchen table, finish your beer, get a new one, and stir the meat more often than you think is necessary. Be glad that you bought the burger with the lower fat content. You'll still have some grease to dip from the pot, but it'll be far less than the gallon you might have had.
By the way, the meat will brown better if you keep the lid on that iron pot. You also won't have so much grease splatter to clean up later on, and it'll all make less noise. There will also be less smoke, which means the fire alarm will go off later, and as we all learned from our mothers, the fire alarm means that dinner is ready. We do not want the dinner bell sounding early, bringing all the peeps to the kitchen, finding dinner not ready, and then drinking up all the beer, something that is definitely not good. Avoid the early fire alarm at all peril.
At some point, the meat is all brown. Turn the burner down to something about two-thirds the way to high. If you bought the cheap burger, start dipping grease, and do not let me hear about you complaining over the extra work. You brought it on yourself. Dip, baby, dip! And I do not mean snuff. You are denied beer while the dipping is in progress. Think of it as a developmental opportunity.
Add the onions and mushrooms. Yes, I know you forgot to chop the onions. You were too busy with your beer and porch sitting and probably dog harassing to remember the onions, but they have to be chopped. Get cracking!
After you have added to onions and mushrooms to the pot, add a couple of cans of beans, and then the cans of chopped tomatoes with green chilies. A couple will not be the exact amount you need. You'll have to look and taste to be sure. Add another one or both as you see fit. It really doesn't matter as long as you like it. This is the point where you'll add a large dollop of Texas Pete, followed by some salt. Remember this is all to your taste.
You probably need another beer. Get it while you can.
For the next three hours, you simmer the chili. This is why you have much beer. Add water to the pot as necessary. Keep the lid on the pot except when you check the chili. Keep the beer going. Keep the weapons loaded. I would also mention keeping the powder dry, but I doubt you reload anymore. After three hours, add some water, bring the pot back to a simmer, add a fist full of sage if you like, turn off the heat, put the pot in the fridge, no matter how hot is is, and take a nap until dawn. You've earned it. Pee as necessary. You know you need it.
Eating the the chili
At dawn, rise, curse the day, and proceed as normal, the only exception being bringing the chili back to a slow simmer for lunch. Add water to keep the simmer going without burning the chili. It's the law.
By noon with a very slow simmer going over the last six hours, the chili is ready for the unveiling. Serve unadorned in a bowl. No raw onions. No rice. No hot dog. Certainly no freaking cheese. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME, CADET? Serve the chili as the Deity intended, alone with a beer, assuming you must share the chili in the first place.
Now, go shoot that ugly dog with the BB gun again.