Since the weather is getting colder, I suggested making some chili for dinner. My husband winced, looked at me with a fake smile, and took a deep breath before he blurted out, “I don’t really like your chili.” Then he stopped breathing, waiting for what was coming next. He knows I am passionate about food. However, little did he know that chili doesn’t fall into that category. I took no offense and wondered instead why he had been silent for so long. Who eats something they don’t enjoy for 17 years without saying anything?
If I wanted to learn how to make a perfectly hearty bowl of chili, I certainly could have looked into that over the years. Yet, to me chili was always one of those dishes where we used up whatever onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc. we had on hand, a last-minute meal thrown together in the winter in order to avoid a trip to the grocery store. I never really gave it any thought. I browned some ground beef, threw in a packet of McCormick Chili Mix, and called it a day.
Over the years my husband brought home recipes for chili that his coworkers brought to their “pig-ins.” They incorporated venison, bison, or some other ingredient that required a scavenger hunt of local grocery stores or butchers.
So with the new-found realization that my chili lacked luster I sent out an S.O.S., asking family and friends for any chili recipes worth sharing. My cry was answered by a high school friend who read me his infamous chili recipe in a hushed voice over the phone. While I had hoped to share it with you here, I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Yet I can tell you it calls for over 25 ingredients and most certainly requires a trip to the grocery store. But, it is definitely worth it.
The best part is that after browning the meat, only two kinds and neither are bison or venison, you put it in the crock-pot until you are ready to eat. There are very few things that I make successfully in a crock-pot, but this was a winner. Everyone loved it and we’ve added it to our rotation of comfort foods to keep us warm in the winter months. I’d say we have a new family favorite.
Since we conquered chili, we thought we should move onto other chili inspired creations. These Chili Spiced Mango Biscotti with Chili Flavored Dark Chocolate and Homemade Chipotle Flavored Almonds are a perfect dessert to share after finishing your next steamy bowl of chili. They are a wonderful balance of sweet, smokey, and salty. We found the Chili Spiced Mangoes at Trader Joe’s and used a recipe from Party Nuts! to make the almonds. There are plenty of almonds left for snacking too. We placed the chili flavored dark chocolate in a plastic bag and handed our son a meat tenderizer to crush the chocolate and release his aggression.
Chili Spiced Mango Biscotti with Chili Flavored Dark Chocolate and Homemade Chipotle Almonds
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mango flavored oil
½ heaping cup diced chili spiced mango
¼ cup crushed chili flavored dark chocolate
½ cup salt and chipotle flavored almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and mango flavored oil.
4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.
5. Add the mangoes, dark chocolate, and almonds and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.
6. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
What to do with the ends #41: Crumble the ends in your next bowl of chili instead of saltines or oyster crackers.