The wonderful thing about chili, is that it is easy to make allergen-free. Of course, most chili recipes do not contain nuts or gluten anyway, and the dairy is usually "on top", so you can choose to leave it off. But with most chili recipes, you still miss that taste and texture of dairy - to either compliment the spice or to simply make you happy.
So, if you cannot consume dairy products, have I got a recipe for you. There is no cheese required, and these flavors will demand that you leave it off.
This recipe has a mix of French and Mexican flavors, with a sauce that compels you to lick your bowl. I call this "grown-up" chili, because this is not your kids' chili (not your normal kid, anyway). With this blend of flavors and a 1/2 bottle of red wine, it's for adults only.
Grown Up Chili Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 8 hungry people (and 10 not-so-hungry people)
Gather the Ingredients
3 lbs Ground Beef
1 TBS of Sea Salt (plus a few extra pinches as you go)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. ground cumin (1 and 2)
2 tsp. ground coriander (1 and 1)
4 TBS chili powder (2 and 2)
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow or white onions (chopped well)
6 cloves garlic (smashed and finely minced)
4 fresh serrano chile peppers, finely chopped with seeds (no stems) OR (6 – 8 frozen serrano) - if you want a milder chili, remove the seeds from the peppers and use only the pepper flesh (throw seeds away).
4 mulatto chile peppers, soaked for one hour and chopped finely (can also use soaked ancho chiles) - include 1/2 of the seeds (no stems). If you like it hot, keep all of the seeds in.
1/2 c. organic tomato paste
2 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 TBS of fresh oregano, finely chopped)
½ bottle of dry, full-bodied red wine (cabernet or an equivalently full bodied “good” red table wine)
1 quart organic chicken broth
2 - 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
3 - 12 oz. cans of black beans
6 oz. dairy-free, bittersweet chocolate, chopped into large chunks
Season the Beef
Place the ground beef into a large bowl and season generously with sea salt (about 1 T. salt). Then continue seasoning with:
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of cumin
2 TBS of chili powder
Brown the Beef
Prepare a 13x9 inch pan by lining it with a paper towel. Set aside.
In a large cast iron pot, Doufeu (my favorite pot, bar none) or stew pot, cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil (3 TBS to 1/4 cup). When the oil is hot, add the ground beef in a layer that is about 1 inch thick (don't crowd or clump so it browns evenly). Resist the temptation to stir the beef. Let it brown - when the blood starts to rise on the beef, turn each piece over and brown the other side. Once browned / carmelized, removed the beef from the pan, and place it in the prepared 13x9 inch pan. Set aside.
Layer the Flavors
Add the onions right into the juices in the pan. Saute until they start to get soft. Add a pinch of sea salt, then add the garlic and saute until you smell that yummy garlic aroma. Throw in the serrano and ancho chile peppers. Saute for about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Then add the remaining spices:
1 T. of chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp oregano
Stir to incorporate the spices, then stir in the diced tomatoes.
Add the Grown Up Stuff & Simmer
Now add the meat back into the pan, and stir to incorporate everything really well. Let the meat get used to its new spicey friends, then pour in the red wine - all of it. Stir it well, then add the chicken stock and incorporate that juicy goodness. If your chicken stock is unsalted, another pinch of salt here might be a good idea. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In the meantime, drain the black beans and rinse them well to get the “gas out”. Simmer for another ½ hour.
Top it Off with a Secret Weapon
Stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir until it melts brilliantly, then serve immediately and enjoy the beans out of it.
(Please note: if you make this recipe a day or two ahead of time, its best to wait to add the chocolate until you reheat it.)
Other toppers....if you must....
In my opinion, this chili needs nothing else (except a glass of red wine). But if you would like a little more flavor, chooped cilantro is a nice garnish. And if you make it really hot and you are not alergic to soy, a dairy alternative could be a dollup of tofutti (a soy-based cream cheese). Its a bit heavy, so dollup lightly.
This recipe can be made a day or two ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated in the cast iron pan.