Bacon Chili by Michael David Tomko
1lb Ground Sirloin
2 strips of Applewood Smoked Bacon
1 roasted Red Bell Pepper (can be store bought)
1 package of Brooks Mild Chili Seasoning
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 bottle of Beer (most types will work, nuttier ales are best)
1 can Busch's Chili Beans
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 can Black Beans
1 can Tomato Sauce
1 can Rotel "Chili-Fixin's" Diced Tomatoes
1 can White Shoepeg Corn
--serves 6-8 people
The first few steps are the most important and creating the "chili stock" takes a little practice.
The "Chili Stock"
- Finely dice 2 strips of bacon.
- Dice the whole roasted red bell pepper. I prefer for it to be coarsely diced but with the pieces kept fairly small. Feel free to adjust to your personal tastes.
- Heat up an empty large pot and place the diced pepper and bacon inside once hot. You can use the drippings from the peppers to test and the pot should be ready once the drippings are bubbling.
- "Fry" the bacon and peppers until the bacon is fully cooked. At this point, slowly stir in 1/4 of the package of seasoning. It's important not to do too much at once. You also want to watch your heat through the next few steps. I usually am around "6" on my electric stove.
- Fairly quickly you'll start to notice a coating of bacon grease and seasoning on the pot. Leave the burner on but remove the pot from the heat and let sit until you hear the sizzling subside. Open the beer and have it ready.
- Put the pot back on the heat and once the sizzling returns, use about 1/4 of the bottle of beer to de-glaze the pot. Essentially you want to use the beer to pull all of the seasoning and grease off of the surface of the pot and quickly you will see the beer boil up and begin to cook down.
- Stir in another 1/4-1/2 of the package of seasoning into the pot. Very quickly the beer and bacon/peppers/seasoning mixture will reduce into a thick, dark sludge. As soon as you notice this happening and it looks as if you no longer have liquid beer in the pot, again remove it from the heat and let the sizzling subside.
- Once again, return the pot to the heat and use another 1/4 of the beer to de-glaze the pot. And use this opportunity to stir in the rest of the seasoning. This is your chili stock. It is supposed to be sludgy and full of really flavorful goodness.
- From here you want to be careful that you don't over-reduce your chili stock. If you let too much of the liquid evaporate, your delicious sludge will turn into a gross tar. Use little bits of beer to keep it wet if it gets too sludgy.
- Once you've de-glazed the pot at least twice and have put in all of the seasoning, add in your ground sirloin.
- Lower the heat and cover the pot while you brown the sirloin in the chili stock. It is important to cover it at this point so that you don't dry it out too much.
- While browning add in the brown sugar.
- Once you have a bubbling stock going in the pot and the sirloin is broken up and fully cooked, put in the cans of Rotel and tomato sauce. If I have time to let the chili "setup" I like to let it cook at a medium-low heat for awhile before adding anything else in. This gives the tomatoes a chance to cook down and for the flavor to be its richest. It is not a requirement however.
- When ready, add in the chili, kidney and black beans and reduce the heat to low. I typically drain the kidney and black beans but DO use the liquid from the chili beans. Let the pot simmer for as long as possible from here.
- At a point of your choosing, drain the can of white corn and add it to the chili. This doesn't need to cook long and is meant to stay crunchy. I don't always add the whole can, either. Just adjust to your preference for the desired mixture.