Episode 1: Campfire Chili
It was an easy decision to join forces with Robert “Fireball” Mitchell for the very first episode of Supersonic Kitchen. We both share the same passion for each other’s craft. He’s an incredible songwriter who is always evolving. I’ve seen firsthand the passion he puts forth in his music, and his DIY approach has always impressed me. We took a train ride to NYC one day with a bottle of whiskey and some smoked almonds. We had a long conversation about holding a chili cook off in Baltimore, which became one of many conversations to be had about chili. It only made sense when Supersonic Kitchen was born, that for the first episode, I wanted to make chili, and Fireball to be my musical guest.
Chili is a very particular dish to a lot of people. This here is my version. Yes, I use beans. No, I don’t use any mass produced chili powders. It has evolved over time. I’ve made many versions of this classic comfort food through the years. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten less and less fancy with it. I wanted to make a chili that brings me back to my first memories of chili, which is around the campfire. As with any recipe, use mine as a base. Individualize it, add your own flair. Most importantly, have fun!! Put a smile on someone’s face, and always, always remember step 1….put on some tunes!!!!
Sponsored by Jailbreak Brewing Company
Robert Fireball Mitchell
Chili Base Ingredients
3 Ancho Chilis and 3 Guajillo Chilis (soft and pliable, not brittle) stemmed and seeded, torn into 1” pieces
½ cup corn chips crushed (PLEASE use Fritos!)
2 tbl coarse grind Garlic Powder
1 tbl dried Oregano
2 tbl Cumin
1 tbl Paprika
Toast chilis in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. They’ll start smoking a bit, but don’t let them burn! It’ll really distort the flavor and impart a bitterness you don’t want. Remove from heat and cool for just a couple of minutes.
Add toasted chilis and rest of chili base ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Process until well blended, about a minute. Set aside.
2 lbs. Ground Chuck
1 Tbl. Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, diced (don’t spend too much time being exact here, like Fireball said, use the “chili chop”)
4 cloves garlic ( or 6, or 8, it’s YOUR chili) chopped
1 btl dark beer (if it’s good enough for your chili, it better be good enough to drink, so open a 2nd one for yourself!)
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, blended (use the food processor immediately after making the base, that way the tomatoes will pick up any flavor left behind, never throw away flavor)
1 15 oz. can Pinto Beans (No, I do not rinse and drain)
1 15 oz. can Black Beans (Again, I do not rinse and drain)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbl Grated semi sweet Chocolate
4 Jalapenos, bottoms cut off, seeded, and scored to fit over the edge of a mug Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Prepare a campfire (you’ll probably want to do this an hour in advance, you want a real nice bed of embers) with a grill grate or a tripod for your dutch oven, OR turn on your stove to medium-high heat. Heat the oil until hot in a large dutch oven or stock pot. Add the diced onion, and cook for 4-6 minutes. Just sweat ‘em out. Add the garlic and stir around for a minute, careful not to burn. Add Ground chuck and entire bowl of chili base. Stir around in the pit for a while until the chili base is distributed throughout. Add your bottle of beer and close your eyes and listen to the beautiful sound that is making. Let the beer go for about a minute, then add the beans, sugar, and tomatoes. NOW, it’s time for a salt check. We’ve already added some salt to this with the incorporation of the corn chips, and by not rinsing the beans. Take a quick taste what you have so far. Add some salt to your taste. This will not be your last chance to salt your chili. Your chili should be boiling by now. Turn down your heat to low, and simmer for a couple of hours. If you’re cooking over an open fire, move your embers around, you should have plenty of heat if you’ve done it right. Cooking over fire takes practice. Now you’ve got some time to kill. Clean your work area right about now, chances are, it’s a mess!
Your chili should be ready in about two hours. Slow and low, let yourself go! During this time, make a quick batch of cornbread. If you’ve got a special recipe for corn bread, now is the time to break it out. ME? I’m not a baker. A good ole box of Jiffy Corn muffin mix is fine with me. When done, cut into circular discs that will fit into whatever mugs you’ll be serving your chili in.
When you’re down to the last 15 minutes before your chili is done, place the jalapenos in a square sheet of foil, drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper over them, and form the foil into a square sealing the edges. Place packet directly over the embers.
Check your chili one more time for salt levels. Adjust as necessary. Now, grate your chocolate directly into the chili and stir well. Check your jalapenos, they should be soft with little char spots on them. Now you’re ready to plate!
Place your corn bread discs into the bottom of your mugs, top with hot chili. Top with sharp cheddar cheese, and place a jalapeno garnish on the edge of the mug. Check your beer, check your tunes, and check yourself!!! You’re about to enjoy a true comfort classic.
Here’s to Music, Here’s to Food \m/
Campfire chili EPISODE CREW
Co-Producer, Camera, Editor