Middle Eastern Chili

I got invited rather last minute to a Chili Cook-Off tomorrow. I’ve never been a huge fan of chili, and by no means have any sort of potentially prize-winning recipe. Nor did I really have time to experiment and come up with one.

Here is what I was told:

“There is one rule and one rule only: You must make your own chili from scratch.
Compete for: Most Original, Spiciest and Best in Show. If there are enough vegetarian chilis, we will make a fourth category. All voting is anonymous.”

Since I can’t tolerate the heat like I once could, that category was out. Chili without meat is not even worth talking about, so forget that, and there’s no way I’d even be in the same league as Best In Show. Which leaves “most original”, or in my case, the “WTF is That?” category.

Purists and most Texans prefer their chili without beans, with pieces of beef or other animal, such as venison or other game. I usually go for the California style of ground beef with beans. But since I am looking for a bit of novelty, I needed to mix it up a bit more than that. I decided to do a middle eastern inspired version, with a mix of ground beef and lamb, sweetened with dates, and spiced with harissa, using chickpeas instead of pinto beans.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any lamb suitable for grinding, and don’t have any harissa or all of the ingredients to make it, so had to improvise some more. The result is simmering in the crock pot right now, I’ll report back tomorrow with the results. Meanwhile, here is the recipe.

1 kg goat stew meat (with bones)
1.5 lb beef chuck
1 small whole onion
2 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 black cardommon pod, 1 dried chipotle chili
1 TB Red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
2 TB Osem chicken soup powder

Crock Pot
1 lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 long hot pepper, chopped
1 Italian frying pepper, chopped
4-6 oz dark beer
1-2 oz bourbon
2 TB Silan
6 pitted Dates, chopped
6 dried apricots, chopped
Small can Rotel tomato sauce
1 bag dried chickpeas, soaked
Beef broth
Fresh Oregano
Fresh thyme
Fresh culantro, chopped (yes culantro, not cilantro)
1 teaspoon salt
Chili Powder spice mixture
2 each guajillo, ancho, pasilla dried hot peppers, ground
1 teaspoon new Mexican chili powder
hot paprika, Aleppo pepper, cayenne to taste
baharat and garam masala
ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds, roasted and ground
Caraway, fennel
1 dried Persian lemon
2 teaspoons black pepper
Fresh chopped Mint and/or Cilantro
  1. In large pot, heat 1 teaspoon of canola oil
  2. rinse and dry the goat/lamb and brown on all sides over high heat
  3. Cut beef into bit sized pieces
  4. When goat is browned, add beef and brown on all sides
  5. When fully browned, cover meat with boiling water.
  6. Add 1 whole onion, 3 bay leaves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 black cardommon pod, 1 dried chipotle chili, 1-2 TB Osem chicken powder
  7. Season with Worcester and vinegar
  8. boil down until only about 1/2″ of liquid is left at the bottom of the pot
  9. remove from heat and stir in about 1/3 of the spice mixture
  10. Meanwhile, chop the remaining onion, pepper, and sauté in a bit of olive oil in the crock pot. Add ground beef and fruit, mix well, and moisten with 2 ladles of beer.
  11. Stir in tomato sauce, silan, bourbon, and about 1/3 of the spice mixture. Result should be a slightly sweet, thick spicy meat sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  12. Add the meat and gravy from the other pot, discarding the whole spices.
  13. Mix well with meat sauce, add sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme
  14. Add chickpeas (start with half and adjust amount until it looks like the right amount) and stir gently
  15. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  16. Cook on high for 2 hours, then on low for 3-4 hour or until chickpeas are tender
  17. discard oregano and thyme, ladle into bowls and sprinkle chopped mint and/or cilantro.
  1. I had intended to use a ground lamb/ground beef mixture, but couldn’t find any suitable lamb, so the bony goat was a compromise, balanced with the chunks of chuck steak.
  2. Canned chickpeas would work just as well
  3. Goat can be removed prior to serving if a boneless stew is desired.
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