Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Make Chili Using Espresso and Giant Slayer Russian Imperial Stout

Written by  Ryan Ranspach
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How to Make Chili Using Espresso and Giant Slayer Russian Imperial Stout

It is difficult to find solace and inner-peace in the afterglow of the holidays. A day or two after New Year's, one starts thinking about the challenges, new directives, and TPS Reports that lie ahead--it can shake a man loose if he's not careful. So for a final sendoff of the holiday season, I travelled to my Spiritual Advisor's house and set to work on planning a large and decadent pot of chili. I am not and have never claimed to be well-versed in chili. I enjoy eating it a few times a year, namely at out annual chili-themed tailgate in the fall, but I play no real role in the production of the dish at this event. Simply, I am no expert at the stuff.
We bounced a few recipes back and forth (to and fro) and found a basic one we could work with. My chili guru from tailgate season, a very serious man of science, always puts coffee in his batches. I have found after eating it for several years that it adds a richness and complexity to a dish that if done too pedestrianly can taste like ground beef and kidney beans tossed in bland tomato sauce, and ain't nobody got time for that! In addition to incorporating the coffee, we decided to omit the ground beef and instead use three pounds of cubed sirloin steak (man's game) and also use half black & half kidney beans.

The black beans were an outside request and not necessarily by our design, but for now that story is a horse of a separate and different color. It was also decided that a rich, rough and tumble stout should be added to our chili to give it the right mouthfeel and panache. We gathered several (you can never have too much stout laying around) and settled on the decadent Giant Slayer, a Russian Imperial stout from the good folks at Tri-City Brewing Company of Bay City (which is gorgeous this time of year), Michigan. This is a fairly standard version of a Russian Imperial, but I think what sets it apart is the forward presence of bitter cocoa. I thought this would work well in our recipe, and it did. Here is what you'll need to put together this fairly simple but delicious chili.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 pounds (yeah I said it) cubed sirloin steak
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
  • 1 double shot of espresso (Biggby, Starbucks, or your favorite)
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beeans, drained
  • 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 bottle of Giant Slayer Russian Imperial Stout
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, ground beef and cubed sirloin in oil for 10 minutes, or until the meat is well browned and the onions are tender.  Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook until fragrant...usually about a 1 minute or so.
  2. Mix in the diced tomatoes with juice, dark beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth. Season with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, coriander and salt. Stir in 2 cans of the beans and hot chile peppers. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Stir in the 2 remaining cans of beans, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with plenty of cold beer. Garnish chili with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced red onions or shallots, and fresh cilantro

This recipe was a big success. The beer did its job and was even more prevalent in the chili the next day. The mixture of beans, originally to the chefs' chagrin, was a nice touch. Next time I would add an additional shot of espresso or even incorporate dried espresso powder as it is more condensed. This chili was exactly what we needed to calm our nerves in preparing to head back to the rockpile. Bravo, gentlemen! Bravo!!

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