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Chili Bowl XXXVIII

A Texas gridiron extravaganza calls for a Lone Star favorite

(Jim Scherer for the Boston Globe)
By Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven
Globe Staff And Globe Correspondent / February 1, 2004

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There are any number of reasons why chili is the universal Super Bowl dish, including the fact that this highly seasoned stew can sit on the back burner virtually ignored by the cook. A colleague's chili, adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook, is our current favorite. It has all the qualities we like in a brimming bowl: canned kidney beans (they make the dish trouble-free); highly seasoned turkey sausage removed from its casing and crumbled into pieces, so you bite into big chunks of meat; and ground turkey instead of beef. Simmered with mustard, cumin, chili powder, and lots of garlic, the recipe makes a big pot in very little time.

We called Jane Marshall, a food writer in Houston. Because the football game will be played in Houston today, we wanted to see what her friends were making. Texans are particular about their chilis, she says. She sent us the recipe for an all-white version that contains white beans and boneless chicken breast, nothing like the meaty chilis common to her region. Real chili lovers, she says, chop venison and simmer it with rendered beef suet. Hmmm. Rendered beef suet. You might have to be Texan. (Recipes are on the following page.)

GROUND TURKEY AND SAUSAGE CHILI

Our colleague Joseph Kahn makes this chili, which he found in The Silver Palate Cookbook. His adaptation includes turkey sausage and ground turkey.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 Spanish onions, chopped

2 pounds mixed hot and sweet turkey (or chicken) sausage, removed from casing and crumbled

3 pounds ground turkey

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons each dried basil and oregano

1/2 cup red wine

2 cans (28 ounces each) plum tomatoes, crushed by hand

2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, drained

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups shredded cheddar (for sprinkling)

1 cup chopped scallions (for serving)

2 cups sour cream (for serving)

In a large heavy-based casserole, heat the oil. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Add the crumbled sausage and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to break the pieces up even more.

Add the ground turkey and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, and oregano. Pour in the wine and tomatoes and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the kidney beans, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Spoon the chili into deep bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and pass scallions and sour cream. SERVES 10

ALL-BEEF CHILI

Houston food writer Jane Marshall says that chili without beans is the most popular mixture where she lives. Locals attribute this version to Lyndon B. Johnson.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with their juice, crushed in a bowl

2 cups boiling water

Salt, to taste

In a flameproof casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. When it is hot, add enough meat to the pan so it makes one uncrowded layer. Brown the meat. Remove it from the pan and continue cooking pieces in the same way, in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, until they are all browned. Remove them from the pan.

Add the onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chili powder to the pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring.

Add the tomatoes, water, and salt. Return the meat to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat. Taste the meat for seasoning and add more salt or chili powder if you like. Spoon into bowls and serve at once.

SERVES 8

WHITE CHILI

White beans and boneless chicken breasts go into this white chili. Marshall says that the recipe was made famous by the family that founded Neiman Marcus.

BEANS

1 pound dried white beans

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

1 small red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

In a large flameproof casserole, combine the beans with water to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and let the beans sit for 1 hour.

Drain the beans. Return them to the pan with the stock, onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan.

Simmer the beans for 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender. If at any point the beans seem dry, add more water to the pan.

CHILI

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1 can (4 ounces) green chilies, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground coriander

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of cayenne

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup water

1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese (for sprinkling)

4 scallions, finely chopped (for sprinkling)

In a skillet, heat the oil. Cook the onion over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Stir in the chilies, cumin, oregano, coriander, cloves, cayenne, chicken, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes more.

Add the chicken mixture to the beans and reheat until boiling. Serve with cheese and scallions.

SERVES 4

VEGETARIAN CHILI

1 cup dried black beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 small dried red chilies, crumbled

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed in a bowl

6 cups water

1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup sour cream or grated cheddar (for serving)

In a large flameproof casserole, combine the beans with water to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and let the beans sit for 1 hour.

Drain the beans.

In a heavy-based casserole, heat the oil. Cook the onion, carrot, and bell pepper with salt and pepper for 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, chilies, oregano, and cumin. Cook for 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes, beans, and water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer the chili for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. If the beans seem dry, add more water.

Stir in the corn and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Add the parsley and more salt, pepper, or chilies if you like.

Serve with sour cream or cheddar cheese.

SERVES 6