Beer and Bacon Chili

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Review by BetterThanAndrew


So it’s summer in Seattle. Time for people to enjoy the two weeks or so of sunshine and participate in social gatherings. One of my favorite excuses to subject my underdeveloped eyes to the strange bright light in the sky is my friend Marge’s annual chili cookoff. Having now established my reputation as a baconnoisseur in pretty much all of my social circles, there was much expectation that I would be bringing something with bacon in it. Not to disappoint, I fired up the interwebs in search for a promising recipe. Before long, I stumbled across this one. As a bonus, beer, one of my other favorite things, was another ingredient. Also, it promised to bring a bit of heat. A trifecta!

So, as usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit to my own tastes as I went. For starters, 1/2 a pound of bacon was most certainly not going to cut it. I went for a full pound of thick sliced, hickory smoked bacon. I also added a 1/3 cup or so of hickory smoked BBQ sauce, 1/3 cup of light brown sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I also mixed up the recipe a bit by using one clove of regular garlic and one clove of red. I also went for 8 oz of tomato paste instead of sauce, to keep things a little thicker.

This is a very meaty chili and while I’m all about that it was almost a bit unbalanced, with only one can of pinto and one can of kidney in 3 lbs of meat and almost 40 oz of sauce. I would throw another can of beans in next time, personally. I’d also consider using chipotle peppers instead of or along with the jalapenos for a more smoky flavor. Oh, and I’d cut the cumin by a half. It stood out too much and didn’t have any real complimentary spices to play off, in my opinion. Some molasses could have been a nice addition, too.

Anyhow, enough nitpicking. It came out very well, if you ask me. The consistency was nice and thick but not too heavy. It wasn’t watery. The combination of the red pepper, chili powder, jalapenos and cayenne pepper delivered a nice even heat across the palette from start to finish. Not too hot for the more delicate folks, not too light for the heat-seekers. The bacon was unfortunately a bit lost in the shuffle. Next time around, I might bump it up to 1.25 – 1.5 lbs and roll back the burger and stew meat accordingly. Anyhow, the bacon definitely wasn’t a highlight but it played a nice role overall. More would have a good thing but enough to give it too commanding a role could have made things awkward. Bacon can’t always win. At the end of the day it’s comforting to know that it’s there, though. That’s what really matters, right?

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