Meathenge California Style, “A Bowl of Red”

Recipes for chili are about as numerous as cold remedies, tales of woe & mac vs. pc arguments. No matter which list of ingredients, no matter how long you simmer it, you’re doing it wrong. So, I say, sit down and contemplate why you enjoy chili and base your recipe against that. And this is how I came up with Meathenge’s California Style, “A Bowl of Red”.

What about Chili makes me weak in the knees? Offers up a craving that nothing else will replace? Chile peppers, that’s what. Whole, dried, chile peppers. Everything else is only to support the chile pepper flavors. No cans of corn, no whole sticks of cinnamon, no cans of beans, nuttin’ like that.
This pot of chili was a little tough on the Biggles this time. First off, it was a work night and second, I don’t have a vita-mix anymore. My usual way of getting the chile peppers rendered down is to soak them, then whiz them with ingredients. I didn’t have the time and no real blender at hand, just a little electric chopper. Here’s what I did, there were some issues, but the end product came out just fine.

List O’ Ingredients:
Flap Meat, 2.5 to 3 pounds
White Onion, 3 medium
Garlic, 1 head crushed
Cumin Seeds, 2 tablespoons toasted then powdered
Salt, 2 teaspoons
Oregano, 2 tablespoons
Tomatoes, 30 oz Sauced or Crushed + several handfuls of garden maters
Broth, 15 oz Chicken
Chipotle, 4 chiles from can sliced
New Mexican Red Chiles, 6 or 7 medium sized
Pasilla, 3
Guajillo, ended up not using
Chile Powder, keep on hand in case you need it towards end to adjust
Note: The ingredients and amounts are not gospel. Adjust to your taste at every corner, I did.

Dried chile peppers should have the texture of supple leather, not all cracky. Slit open chiles and remove seeds, veins. Do not do this under water, I believe it removes some flavors, I’m picky that way. Besides, you want to heat them a bit in a dry cast-iron skillet.

Slice up in to pieces and install in to electric whizzer of some kind and get as small as you can. I had to add some extra virgin and got them pretty small. The skins won’t cook down and they are not digestible (you figure that one out on your own). Next up, the other ingredient.
My new favorite cut of beef meat is Flap Meat from the sirloin area of the cow animal. Not only can you quickly pan sear it, you can cook it slowly and it’ll come just as tender. Slice across the grain to less than bite sized pieces.
At this point I had my meez all out in front of me and the large stock pot heating up with oil. Getting ready to brown all the ingredients, I was. “Man, I aint got time to brown all this crap! And besides, I want my meat all tender and juicy. Brown, shmown.” Every last ingredient went in to the pot all at once, plop!
Simmer for a few hours and adjust with the powdered chile stuff. I think I ended up using a few tablespoons. Remember, if you don’t like that much tomato sauce, use half what I did. I don’t care, I do what I like. And here’s what I got!
4-5 hours of simmer=

It’s full of rich chile flavors and the meat melts in your mouth. The heat shows up slowly, then comes to stay for a bit. My scalp ever so gently sweats with its love. This, my good people, is a great Bowl of Red.
As good as it was, it would have been better with a properly prepared base. I found a handful of pepper skins that were dime size and had to be expelled, flick! To get yourself a nice base, heat up a large pot of water to boiling. While it’s coming to temp, prepare 20+ New Mexican Red chile peppers and a mixture of others if you like. Once the water is boiling, turn off and toss in peppers, cover for about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove peppers and save liquor. Install peppers in to large electric whizzer or do in stages. Add 6 cloves of garlic and a few teaspoons of cumin powder and combine. Add pepper liquor to the party until it’s a nice sauce consistency. Simmer for 20 minutes and add a tad of sugar until it tastes right, maybe a teaspoonful. If your whizzer ain’t a badass, you may want to strain the sauce before you cook it. This base should be made a day or two in advance, can be saved for a week or two. At that point, it can be used for nearly anything. Marinade, gravy, pour over tamals or base for chili!

Oh my, what would a pot of chili be without a large hunk of cornbread? Really good, that’s what. But it’d be far better with some real, “No Cookie Ingredients” cornbread. No flour, no sugar, that’s what that means. This is some badass shit, thanks to Uncle Meathead for this recipe.
Here’s the recipe:
Buttermilk – 2 cuppa
Eggs – 1 Egg
Bacon Fat – 1/4 cuppa
Mayonaise – an optional dollup
Corn Meal – 2 cuppa
Baking Soda – 3/4 teaspoonful
Salt (Kosher) – Pinch it!
Combine dry with dry and wet with wet. No wait, preheat your oven to 450 first, I lowered rack to bottom. Then combine dry with dry and wet with wet and make sure you sift the B. Soda.
I let my buttermilk & egg lose it’s chill.
Rub your 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet with liberal amounts of bacon fat.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you cannot reproduce this cornbread. Stop now and either give up or find one, ask Mommy or Gramma.
Mix your batter together and pour into room temperature skillet. I decided since the batter looked like a blank canvas, that I should lay a slice of crisped bacon in the center with two sprigs of fresh thyme, love the thyme. Meathead won’t allow extrees, but I like the idea, so topped my batter.
Install to the oven for about 25 minutes or so, until done.
Let rest a while and SLICE. Serve with a pat of butter over top with honey slooping down and allowing to puddle on the plate.
Life has never been this good.
And you know what? You’re welcome.

10 thoughts on “Meathenge California Style, “A Bowl of Red”

  1. Sounds great! Here’s a little thing I like to do. When I grill beef — maybe for a party — I make some extra. Then I cube up the grilled tri-tip or sirloin or whatever and make the chili with that. Adds a smoky flavor to the final product.

  2. Man, that is some Mighty Fine Red you made. I would allmost say it would come in Second,next weekend at the “Rodeo Chili Cookoff”.First Place is all ready wrapped up,if you know what I mean.

  3. I’m cruel. I like to leave the chile seeds in. But I’m with you on the chunks of meat. That ground beef stuff? Ick.

  4. I was so excited about your no-cookie ingredients in the cornbread recipe but puzzled when you served it with honey. Mama don’t ‘low no sugar of no kind around her bread. That makes it kin to eating honey on tortillas. It’s straight or nothin’ — except for butter, of course.

  5. Hey Zu,
    Yeah, that’s what I get for using my stock photograph. That was taken a few years ago, didn’t have time to make a fresh batch for this run. It was still good though.

  6. Aha!! That explains why it looks like it was baked in an octagonal (or hexagonal) pan. I have one of those and like the effect but I’ve never seen one in cast iron. I do have a square cast iron skillet that is the love of my life and has been for years and years. It’s esp. great for bacon — all lined up neatly — and also for bakin’ .

  7. Kudzu,
    Close, it’s a purchase from Lodge about 5 years ago, their 10″ square cast iron fry pan. Said it was the perfect shape for french toast, strips of bacon, that kind of stuff. Yeah well, it’s lame. It’s large enough for barely 1 slice and rarely do bacon slices come that short. That and it’s really really really thick. Unless they used cheapass recycled ore, it shouldn’t ever have to be that thick. I’ve sworn many times to sell it on ebay.