Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Plug: Penzeys Chili 9000

Penzeys Spices (no apostrophe…) was started by a husband and wife team in 1957. Based out of Milwaukee, WI they sold their spices out of their family store, until their son started the mail-order business in the 80’s. It really took off! Now they have more than 30 retail fronts nationwide while still selling over the internet and out of their catalogue. Based out of Wisconsin, their Wauwatosa plant freshly grinds, blends and packs all of their spices. There is a store just down the street from my house and I love going there to browse and sniff interesting blends to add to my collection. Here is one of my favorites:

Chili 9000: The future of chili is here

What I like about it:

Sold by weight:  You can buy as much or as little as you need. They prepackage in 1.2 and 2.1 oz glass containers (that you can reuse!) or you can buy bulk bags that vary in weight depending on the herb or spice. Chili 9000 spice ratio is 1 Tbsp per quart of chili, so a little goes a long way.

Complex blend of spices: This blend hints at North African and Mid-Eastern cooking. It has the following ingredients:
ancho chili pepper, cumin, garlic, cilantro, onion, paprika, cayenne pepper, lemon peel, Mexican oregano, black pepper, cocoa powder, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, natural smoke, fenugreek, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, white pepper, anise seed, jalapeno pepper, star anise, and cardamom.

Can you believe that list? When I read it in the store, I couldn’t wait to try it!

Flavor: The flavor of this chili is deep and complex without being overly spicy. The cinnamon and ginger add this hint of sweetness that balances it out wonderfully! ( I am sure it would also make an amazing rub on the grill, too.) If you like your food a bit more spicy, you can always use a fresh hot pepper or a bit more cayenne for punch.  I think this spice blend works best in a simple and basic dish so the flavors can really sing!

Basic Beef and Beer Chili

Don’t mess with a good thing—but maybe use a really good beer? A boring old can of Bud just won’t do.

1 lb 80-85% lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (keep seeds and ribs to add spice—if desired)
12 oz bottle of good dark beer (minus a few sips of course!)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder
14 oz can black beans
Salt and pepper
White rice and garnishes

In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, cook the diced onions in a bit of oil for 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and green peppers. Cook the beef completely as you break it up into small bits. Add the jalapeno and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Take a few sips of beer (wink*) and pour the rest in. Still over medium heat, allow the beer to cook until it is no longer foamy and add the can of crushed tomatoes.  Measure 2 Tbsp. chili powder and dump it in (You can add more if you feel it needs more flavor). Stir and cook until it begins to boil and reduce the heat immediately to low. Add the beans and simmer covered for 45 minutes-1 hour. Stir occasionally and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Cook up some white rice and prepare your garnishes. Suggestions: avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, cotija cheese*Place about ½ cup of rice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle to soup over the top. Let your guests/family garnish as desired.

*cotija cheese: Oh my gosh—this is best cheese on chili ever! It is a dry, salty complex and crumbly cheese that tastes similar to feta but grates more like parmesan. You only need a little bit—it is so flavorful. It also has a really high melting point so it doesn’t get all stringy in your hot bowl of goodness. If you can find it at your grocery store, go for it! (I have also seen it sometimes called Queso Blanco.)

Penzeys Spice, Inc. Order online or find a store near you:

It is a good day for chili! Enjoy!

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