Even though I’m not much of a football fan (ok, who am I kidding…the only game I watch all year is the Superbowl, and that’s only for the commercials and the halftime show), it would just feel wrong to let the Superbowl come and go without making some kind of chili in its honor. This chili is thicker than your average soup but thinner than your average chili, which in my opinion makes is perfect for topping with crumbled corn bread to soak up all the juices (but I have to admit, it’s also great for dipping things like corn chips into).
I first saw this recipe in Cooking Light’s January 2009 issue and the thing that drew me in was the use of tomatillos in the original recipe. On the day that I was shopping for the ingredients, the market didn’t have any tomatillos on hand so I ended up improvising with tomatillo salsa, which still worked fantastically. There were a few other changes I made to the recipe as well; the original version used three different kinds of pork: ground pork, boneless pork shoulder, and smoked ham hock. Since Mike and I don’t eat pork, I used ground beef, boneless beef roast, and turkey bacon instead. (And yeah, with three different kinds of meat this is “man food” if I’ve ever seen it…but don’t worry ladies, you’ll like it too!) If you’re looking for a new chili recipe to try, I definitely recommend this!
Be sure not to skip the garnishes, they really make this dish!
Smoky Chili Soup (Inspired by Cooking Light’s recipe for Smoky Slow Cooker Chili from the January 2009 issue)
(Yield: 8-10 servings)
2 TB olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, thinly sliced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb boneless beef roast (I like to use sirloin), trimmed of fat and cubed into 1-inch pieces
2 medium-large onions, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 TB chili powder
1 TB cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
2 c lager-style beer (such as Corona)
1 beef bouillon cube
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 c tomatillo salsa (I used Frontera’s Gourmet Mexican Salsa)
1 c water
2 medium green peppers, diced
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans (salt-free if possible), rinsed and drained
Queso fresco, crumbed (for garnish)
Fresh scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Fresh lime wedges (to squeeze on top) – I forgot these when I took the pictures, but don’t worry, I remembered them in time for serving! :)
In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat; add the turkey bacon and sauté until crispy (about 5 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove turkey bacon; set aside. To the same pot, add ground beef; turn heat up to high and cook until browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove browned meat. To the same pot, add beef cubes and brown on all sides (about 2 minutes per side). Add turkey bacon and browned ground beef back to the pot; add onions and sauté until starting to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, bay leaves, and sugar and sauté another 1-2 minutes, until everything is fragrant.
Add beer and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan; cook a few minutes until lager is reduced by about half. Add bouillon cube, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomatillo salsa, and water; bring up to a boil, then cover the pot, turn heat down, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green pepper, cover the pot, and cook another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Serve garnished with queso fresco, thinly sliced scallions, and lime wedges to squeeze on top.