Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I did not shoot the chili

I realized I committed a classic eats shoots and leaves error in my last post. For you chili rights activists, no, I did not shoot the chili. I did cook it, though, and we ate it. And lord was there a lot of it.

MizBubs, saint, knows that if I'm left alone I'll cook too much food. She knows that, no matter how well-prepared we are--for a camping trip, a party, a family dinner--there will inevitably come a moment when I turn to her, brow beginning to furrow, and ask "do you think we have enough food?" I've learned over the years to control the anxiety and to shop and plan accordingly so that we don't end up with 3 meals worth of extra food after having guests for dinner. It's a fragile state, though, and all it takes is one person to say "maybe we could use a little more..." to set me off in a frenzy of extra buying and cooking.

Which brings me back to the shooting range on Monday. Six or seven times a year my department uses an outdoor range in Wisconsin to train with our rifles. I've never had a bad time up there, and I've even managed to have a few perfect moments.

Another thing is that we eat well up there. Over the years we've had your standard burgers and brats, sure, and Italian beef, and your usual deli sides. I've been asked to cook two things: biscuits and gravy, and chili, and I've done them both a few times. The range master and senior firearms instructor both love country food, and I got the request to make chili this past Monday. They fueled my excess by insisting that I use more meat than usual, and they supplied the meat.

About an hour into the training I ducked back to the area behind the shooting booths and set up a little field kitchen for myself:

I have a few variations I do on a recipe I found years ago for something called "Buzzard's Breath Chili", an all-meat Texas chili recipe. Here's what the stuff I made Monday looked like while it was cooking:

Shooting Range Chili

8 pounds coarse-ground beef
5 pounds ground venison
2 pounds bacon, chopped
2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
5 heaping tablespoons chopped garlic
8+ tablespoons ground Ancho chiles
5+ tablespoons ground red hot chiles
2 tablespoons cumin
1-2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons ground red chipotle
(all spices from Penzey's)

32 oz of tomato sauce
1 bottle of beer
1 square of Baker's unsweetened chocolate

  • Fry bacon in a big pot until it just starts to get crispy
  • Add onion and peppers, and cook about 30 minutes until they start to wilt
  • Blend together the meat, chile and spices and add to the pot
  • Cook the meat until browned, stirring frequently and breaking up lumps
  • Add tomato sauce, beer, chocolate and salt to taste
  • Cook at least one hour, closer to two hours is better
  • Serve over rice
I used the burner from my turkey fryer, and if I'd known how much meat there was I would've used the turkey fryer pot instead of my regular chili pot. This recipe, by the way, is even better if you cook it over a campfire. We topped the chili with sour cream, shredded cheese and chopped onion.


Splotchy said...

Holey frijoles! That looks like good eatin'!

Now I have Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" in my head ("but I did not shoot the chi-hi-li").

SkylersDad said...

Your Chili looks wonderful, I am going to steal that recipe!

I must tell you a quick shooting range story from my Navy days. The Kaneoe range is run by the Marines, and my buddy Vick from North Carolina just bought a Heckler and Koch model 901 assault rifle. He took it and me to that range to try it out. When I pointed at the sign that said all automatic weapons load only 5 rounds, he smiled and said "that's just for the general public". At that point I started making my distance between me and Vick, cause I knew that him slapping that big banana clip in meant trouble.

The Marine gunney clears the range and says to commence fire. You hear pop-pop-pop of all the other guns, and then Vicks HK opening up like some sort of water hose.

The Gunney is shouting over the PA to "cease fire cease fire", and then follows with a red faced "what the F*** is wrong with you"!

Vick is just grinning ear to ear and I think there is even a little drool involved. Those North Carolina boys do like their shooting irons...

justacoolcat said...

You were in Sconi and you didn't call?

Johnny Yen said...

The chili recipe looks great, though I might have trouble coming up with the venison. There is, however, a big fat possum roaming my neighborhood...

Thanks for the link to Penzey's; I was just thinking yesterday that I need to order some mixed peppercorns for my pepper mill.

Mathman6293 said...

If you don't mind me borrowing your recipe, I think that is the winner for next years chili cook off a Mathman HS.

Bubs said...

Mathman, have at! Change something about it, add or subtract an ingredient or change the amounts, and then re-name it and make it your own!

Johnny...mmmm. Possum. We don't have possums in the yard anymore since the dogs killed so many of them.

Coolcat, it was just over the line in Kenosha. If I ever make it to north cheesehead land I'll get in touch.

Skylersdad, a classic gun story. There is something thrilling about blasting away with a hi-cap magazine in the rifle.

Splotchy, I might have some on the 4th of July.

FranIAm said...

Can you mail me some please? I am so hungry right about now.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Mmmmm, biscuits and gravy.

By the way I had another heart attack just reading the amount of meat you put into that chili. (Well not really but damn, that's a lot of meat.)

Bubs said...

Dr MVM, I don't normally make it quite that heavy, believe me. I was adapting to a more aggressively carnivorous crowd than I usually cook for.

Fran, I'll throw some in the freezer for your next visit here. It gets better after it's been frozen and reheated once. Really.

Writeprocrastinator said...

Wow, sounds delicious, but shouldn't have some buckshot and shell casings, to make a real "shooting range chili?"

'Bubbles' said...

Ahhhh, Penzey's . It is all I can use anymore!! The best!!

Wren said...

Bubs, that's some serious man-made chili. Wowza!

Now, I gotta know: How many people were you feeding that you needed 15 pounds of meat (8 of ground beef, 5 of venison, and 2 lbs of bacon)? You said you were feeding carnivorous carnivores, but ... wow.

Considering the generous amount of ground Ancho, chipotle and red(was that cayenne) chilis and cumin, I'd also like to ask, politely, how many fire extinquishers were needed to put out the mouth-fires? What's that foam taste like, anyway?

Seriously, now. I must try your Buzzard's Breath Shooting Range chili. And soon. It sounds scrumptious, if a bit dangerous. But I do need to ponder for a while on how to reduce the amounts of ingredients so that I'm only feeding Mr. Wren and me for a week or so.

Bubs said...

Wren, that was for 9 people. No shit. I ended up placing ladels full in 1 quart bags for guys to take home. I brought home three bags myself.

And the chili wasn't spicy at all, I thought it came out on the mild side, almost bland.

Dino aka Katy said...

okay so chili is not normally my thing - having meat in it and all - but chocolate???????? mhh i may need to try that in the veggie version