Winter and the holidays are just around the corner. I love the holidays but it dawned on me the other day that they just don’t hold that same feeling, for me, as when I was a kid. There’s that sense of awe and fascination, the giddiness that comes with anticipation, the joy of being so caught up in the moment. I still have many of the same feelings, but they are no longer all-consuming as when I was a child. I watch my daughter, during the holidays, and I see in her all those feelings and emotions and the passion with which she feels them and I miss those days. I miss the wonder and the excitement and find myself longing for those carefree days of being a kid.

Being an adult, though, during the holidays isn’t all bad. Instead of experiencing the “magic” of the season I get to be part of making that magic to ensure that my daughter has a chance to experience those same emotions that I often think back on with such fond memories. And maybe not all that magic is lost on me. I might no longer wait in wide-eyed anticipation for Santa to arrive, but I do wait in wide-eyed anticipation as my daughter makes her way downstairs on Christmas morning and I get to see her face light up as she discovers the joys of that Christmas magic.

So, how does this intro fit into a blog post for a recipe about chili? I have absolutely no idea!!! I just started writing and that’s what came out. I’m feeling a little nostalgic for the holidays of my youth and a bit introspective although I’m not sure why. Nothing, today, has led up to this. In fact, we just got back from taking my daughter to the ice rink for an afternoon of free skating lessons. Sometimes it’s best just not to question why.

So, Chili…it’s one of my favorite cold weather foods. Before I started blogging I never worked from a recipe (outside of the restaurant) as I just always created based on my whims of the moment. Sometimes is was fiery hot, other times somewhat mild. It may have contained beef, or just as likely pork, or maybe chicken. It might have been traditional “chili con carne” or more than likely was full of beans and tomatoes.

It has been awhile since I posted a chili recipe and considering my love of the dish and the numerous different styles I like I figured I was overdue for offering up another recipe. As is true with many of the recipes I give, this one should be considered as much a guideline as a tried and true recipe. If you like your chili really spicy then up the chile peppers, if you prefer ground beef to whole muscle meat use that. Make it what way you would like it as that is what really counts in the end. The chipotle powder will add a nice, subtle smokiness to this chili which is further enhanced by Oktoberfest beer.

Chipotle Spiked Chili
serves 10-12

1 pound Pinto beans, soaked overnight
3 pounds Beef, Chuck or Arm Roast or other tougher cut
3 Tb. Vegetable oil
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
3 each Jalapenos, seeded, de-ribbed and minced
3 medium Onions, peeled and diced
1 can (6oz) Tomato Paste
1/2 tsp. Oregano
2 tsp. Cumin, ground
3 tsp. Chipotle pepper, ground (or more depending on the heat level you like)
12 oz. Beer, Oktoberfest or other darker malty beer
1 can (28oz) Diced Tomatoes

Drain the beans, cover with clean water and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to a high simmer and cook the beans until just barely tender, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Do not add salt, tomatoes or any other acids which will increase the amount of time it takes for the beans to get tender.

Dice the beef into bite sized pieces, removing any large chunks of fat and connective tissue. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-reactive pot over high heat. Add the oil. When the oil almost reaches the smoking point add in some of the beef. Do not overcrowd the pan or you will end up steaming the beef instead of browning it.

Brown the beef well on all sides. Do not rush this step. For a deep, beefy flavor the meat needs to be browned on all sides. Once done remove the meat and add another batch. Continue in this manner until all the beef is well browned. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic and jalapenos. Continue to cook until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the tomato paste and the spices and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add the beer and cook for 5 minutes to cook the alcohol out.

Add the tomato, along with the beef and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for 1 hour. After the hour add the drained pinto beans, season with salt and pepper and add more chipotle powder if you want more heat. Continue to cook for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours longer or until the meat and beans are tender. Serve however you like. I often serve my chili with tortilla chips and sour cream, and sometimes with shredded cheese, minced onion and cilantro leaves.