Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dish and then Save it with Beer

Yesterday I made some Bison chili at home. I love Chili when the weather turns cold and it's fun to cook too. There are a few things I do differently with my chili than most people. One, I don't use any tomato sauce or whole tomatoes. Instead I sautee some tomato paste with my onions at the beginning until it caramelizes a bit. This gives just enough tomato flavor without turning the chili into a tomato sauce. Second, I use a combination of beef stock and water instead of just water. I think this adds flavor. Third, instead of just using spices to give it a chili flavor, I make a puree from re-hydrated chili peppers combined with canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. It is this third step where I went wrong this time. I foolishly put the whole can in the puree; too much for the amount of chili I was making. The result was a way-too-spicy chili with too much chipotle smoky flavor. It still tasted good, but was out of balance.

I had opened a red wine that I was planning on having with the chili, but because of the intense spice I just couldn't drink it. Instead I opened up a Belgian Christmas ale we just got in, the Delirium Noel. The beer is quite sweet and lower in alcohol than wine, so it goes well with spicy food. The sweetness of the beer toned down the spice in the chili and improved the flavor quite a bit. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Good wine or beer can improve a mediocre dish. Plus I love Christmas beer.

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