Even though the weather has been temperate, ‘tis the season to be outdoors—picking Christmas trees, skating, ogling holiday store windows or maybe even a round of caroling with friends. After hours outside, what could be better afterward than a steaming bowl of chili—or better yet, dreaming about a trip to the Southwest, where two feet of snow is only something we might see on television?
We have two books that might help with each—one with a collection of great chili recipes, and another with tales and recipes from New Mexico (sorry, you’re going to have to arrange for airfare to the Southwest yourself).
The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh (Ten Speed Press, September 2015) is a collection of all the “one, true chili recipes” from all over the country. Lavishly illustrated, the book displays recipes featuring beef, venison, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken and shrimp—and an entire chapter on vegetarian chili is included as well. While researching the book, Walsh said he found that “chili is both a quintessential American dish and part of an ancient chili pepper culture that has become deeply ingrained in the whole world’s cooking.” His book features chili recipes from such unlikely cooks as Miles Davis and President Barak Obama, and dishes that will have you serving chili over eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, and Fritos corn chips (and while he doesn’t quite settle the argument over who invented the Frito Pie, it’s still fun to read about).
A long as we’re eating Southwestern, why not hang out there for a while, with The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes & Tales from New Mexico by Lynn Cline (Baker & Taylor, 2015)? This is a cookbook with a twist: it’s the history of New Mexican cuisine through stories of 12 legendary figures, including such luminaries as Georgia O’Keefe, Dennis Hopper and Billy the Kid. Through the book, we get to spend some time with these icons, while enjoying the recipes for delectable original treats such as La Doña’s Mexican Hot Chocolate, Spiced Orange Pancakes, Son-of-a-Gun Stew, Shrimp Remoulade, Route 66 Burgers, Fiesta Flan, and Mud Palace Brownies. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to ditch my skates, skis and snow shovel right now and light out for the territory.
But before I do, how about mixing up one more pot of chili for the road? Here’s a recipe from The Chili Cookbook that comes to us from legendary auto racer and Houston, Texas native A.J. Foyt, the only man to win four Indianapolis 500 competitions.
A.J. Foyt’s Super Tex-Mex Chorizo Chili
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds beef chuck roast, cubed
1 pound fresh chorizo
2 large onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 fresh jalapeño chiles, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 (15-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-oz) can Mexican beer
2 cups of water, plus more as needed
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches and cook five to seven minutes or until browned, transferring the browned meat to a plate with a slotted spoon. When the beef is browned, add the chorizo and cook five to seven minutes or until no pink remains, scraping with a spatula to turn. When the chorizo is cooked, add the onions, garlic and jalapenos and stir while adding the cayenne and chili powder. Add the tomato sauce, salt, beer and water. Return the beef to the pot. Cook and cover over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often. Uncover and simmer for two hours, adding water as necessary to maintain the desired consistency.
(Alternatively, transfer the beef and sauce mixture to a slow-cooker set on low and cook for at least six hours and up to eight hours, or until the meat is tender and the flavors are well-blended.)
Serve with bottles of Mexican beer dressed with salt and lime quarters.