Tequila. The stuff of legends…and nightmares. This slightly spicy and peppery distilled spirit derived from the blue agave plant is both hated and loved (curiously, often by the same person depending on what point in the evening you ask their opinion). Songs have been written about it, and on more than a few occasions people under its influence have been known to do things they would never consider under any other circumstances (or wake up places they would rather not divulge). Be it shooters, margaritas, sunrises, or “NorCals” (thanks Robb Wolf), there’s something about a little bite from tequila.
Some of you may recall my previous chili recipe, in which I had included a small amount of tequila (with undetectable results). Since then, I’ve been looking for something that might better showcase the flavor of the distilled blue agave, but without the subsequent erratic behavior or waking up in a back alley in Tijuana. And of course, we need to keep it safe for the kids to eat too! This time, I did it – combining a few of the basic ingredients of the “NorCal Margarita” with a more simplistic chili recipe that yielded just the right amount of aroma and subtle flavor without being overpowering to the senses.
- 1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground grass-fed beef (or, if you’re lucky enough, some ground elk – thanks Dad!)
- 1 lb ground pork breakfast sausage – something rather mild would be best, or simply some ground pork
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
- 7-oz can of diced green chiles
- 15-oz can of tomato sauce
- 1-3/4 cups water (rinse out the tomato sauce can and pour that in)
- 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 oz good reposado tequila
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dry yellow mustard
- 1 tsp beef bouillon, as low salt as possible
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- just a dash of sea salt, depending on how salty your bouillon is
Start out with a large sauce pan. Brown all of the meat over medium heat, mixing and turning well. The pork, with its higher fat content, should help balance the leanness of the grass-fed (or wild) red meat. If you’re finding it still sticking a bit, you can add in a tablespoon or so of bacon fat to help.
Continue to simmer for about an hour to two hours on low heat, keeping covered the whole time. About 10 minutes before serving, turn off the heat and set the lid ajar (insert a serving spoon into the pot and set the lid back down) so that there is a gap for steam to escape. Let it sit like this to evaporate a little liquid off as it cools to a temperature that won’t destroy the roof of your mouth in the first bite. Stir well right before serving, then dish into bowls. This would go great with our almond muffins, or served over a bed of riced cauliflower, but it is also excellent just by itself. And no, you won’t find yourself with a señorita tattoo in the morning…or at least not because of the chili (now where did the rest of that bottle end up?) Enjoy!