Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cabrito Chili with Cornbread Topping

It's finally cooling off here in Austin. Well, some days. And some days are not. We had a little cold spell a week or so ago, and I decided to make chili. Chili, it turns out, was a fairly elegant solution to the question, "What does one do when one receives goat stew meat in ones meat share?" Goat chili, cooked low and slow, is delicious. But this recipe would work with any stew meat, really.
One of my favorite chili recipes is from Alton Brown, and involves using a jar of salsa. As much as I enjoy this recipe, I decided to play with it and see if I could adapt it to use up some of the beautiful peppers we've been getting in our farm share. And the final kick? I also had a hankering for a cornbread topping. I cooked the chili in a dutch over, made a batch of cornbread and layered it on top, and baked it in the over. Soooo good!
This isn't a soupy chili - this is meant to be more like a casserole - a ramped up version of something you might find at a potluck. The chili is very thick, and the peppers give a lot of texture and flavor to the stew.
The basic idea here is making a pepper heavy salsa out of fresh vegetables.

For the pepper "salsa":
1 cup diced fresh peppers  (About 3 - 4 medium/large peppers and a few small, too. These can be Anaheim, lipstick, green, red, or whatever you have on hand. Mild peppers will make a mild chili. Hot peppers will make a hot and spicy chili. Mix and match! Use several mild to give you the volume you need, then add a few small, hot ones for some spice!)
1 onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 can stewed tomatoes, or 2 - 3 fresh tomatoes
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until finely ground to a salsa-like texture.

For the chili:
2 - 3 TBSP Canola Oil or Olive Oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
3  TBSP Chili Powder (or to taste)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
(All of the seasoning can be adjusted to taste)
2 lb stew meat (goat, beef, bison, pork, whatever! I often combine 2 or 3)
1 bottle beer (try and use something dark and flavorful, but not too complex. Something you'd drink with a burger....)
2 - 3 cups beef broth, or any broth on hand

Heat the oil in a dutch oven. Add the stew meat in batches, evenly browning the meat. (Add just enough meat per batch to cover the bottom of the pan, and get it just a bit brown on each side. Remove the meat as it browns and process the rest in batches.)
When all the meat is browned, remove it all from the dutch over, and add the pepper mixture, and the bottle of beer, and "deglaze" the pan - scrape the tasty bits of brown meat and flavor from the bottom. Add the cornmeal, the salsa you made, the spices, and the meat. Add enough broth to cover all the meat, plus an inch or two. Place the lid on the dutch oven and place the dish in a 325 degree oven for 3 - 4 hours. The slow even heat will cook the goat (or any meat you use) to a nice, tender braise.
When the chili is done, or close to done, mix up your favorite cornbread recipe. (You don't need to take the chili out of the oven for this, but don't forget to reset the oven temp to match your cornbread recipe!)
Remove the chili from the oven and spread the cornbread batter evenly over the top. If you want, add a layer of grated cheddar to the top! Bake according to the cornbread recipe - no lid.
Enjoy!

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