Head of the Charles Chili

Posted on: Monday, October 22, 2012

Every October, we look forward to the Head of the Charles Regatta, the world's largest two day rowing competition attracting crews from colleges, highs schools and clubs all over the world. Lucky for us, it takes place a short walk down the foliage-engulfed Charles River. While watching the boats glide across the water, we connect with Hamilton College (our alma mater) and other local alumni in the riverside Reunion Village. After a full day of catching up with friends over Otter Creek beers and sweet potato fries, we return home to warm-up with a homemade pot of spicy chilli.

While prepping the ingredients, we laugh and reminisce about our college days. Senior year, we entered a chili cook-off on a whim and won first prize. While we cannot tell you the exact measurements and ingredients (since we truthfully don’t remember), we always use a few key standouts-chorizo for some smoky spice, cinnamon for subtle sweetness, and beer to deepen the flavor. We also recommend making the chili a day ahead to meld overnight and enhance the rich flavor. While it is very likely that we won the competition by pushing the corn bread filled bowls on our sleep-deprived friends, we continue to make a variation of the recipe year after year. We must have the trophy cup somewhere...
Smoky, Spicy and Subtly Sweet Chili

8 oz. Spanish chorizo, decased and chopped
1 lb ground beef
3 T Santa Fe Dixon Medium Hot Red Chile Powder (we have a large bag from The Chile Shop in Santa Fe, NM-feel free to replace with your favorite chili powder/spice combination)
1 T ground cumin
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 15 oz can can red beans, drained
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 bottle autumn ale (we use Otter Creek Oktoberfest)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 c chicken broth
salt and pepper throughout
Cholula hot sauce (to taste)

Our favorite toppings:
Grated Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour cream
Lots of cornbread!

Over medium high heat, heat a large pot with 1 T EVOO. Add the chorizo and render for 2-3 minutes. Add the meat and let brown, crumbling with a wooden spoon for 4-5 minutes. Add the onions and peppers and cook for 5-6 minutes.Stir in the spices (chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and oregano). Add the garlic and beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Pour in the beer and reduce for 1-2 minutes then add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. Let simmer on the stove for 45 minutes-1 hour. When ready to serve, add hot sauce or more salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon into bowls with desired toppings and a big piece of corn bread. Serves 6.

A side of corn bread is a must. The sweet yellow crumbles absorb all of the spicy, red-velvet hued chili!


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