Roasted Chili Verde!
Recently, my husband and I worked on developing a chili recipe together. This was significant for a few reasons.
For one, we really don't tend to develop a lot of recipes together - we'll hash out an idea, sure... but then I take over the kitchen, usually kicking him out.
Secondly, this was for a chili cook off. Now, I make great chili - and used to seriously kick butt in chili cook offs back home... but it's something that I haven't participated in since moving to Minnesota.
As you may already know, the average Minnesota palate is still completely foreign to me. Early on, it was explained to me that "Ketchup, salt, and pepper are the standard spices here", and then experience proved that statement to not ENTIRELY be a joke. I quickly got used to specifying "hot-hot, not Minnesota hot" when dining at various ethnic restaurants in the state. Apparently, it's all the Scandinavian culture here? Not a huge deal, more hot stuff for me!
Thing is, when it comes to my famous chili... it has way more heat than would be acceptable for "Minnesota hot". It doesn't burn your mouth off or anything (I like flavorful heat, not tastebud-killing heat), but... I don't think it would go over so well with the general public here. So, no chili contests for me!
Then, my husband was asked to participate in one for work. Says he:
I work at a large company, and the department I work in decided to have a chili contest, sending out an email to the group trying to find people interested in competing in the friendly competition. I immediately knew what I had to do…
Show the world that tomatoes suck.
That’s putting it nicely, actually. I feel that tomatoes should be handled like smallpox, and eradicated from the earth in the same manner. Ok, ok, I wouldn’t seriously do that if I somehow obtained that sort of power, I do realize that plenty of people like them. I don’t really know why I hate them, there’s some component in them that is really gross. Luckily for me, this gross component gets severely reduced by cooking and other processing. Tomato sauce on pizza? Yeah, I’ll eat it, though I prefer white sauce. Ketchup with my fries? Yup, though I prefer ranch. Fresh salsa? No thanks, I prefer the stuff from a bottle, the stuff that has been processed so much that the gross component is barely there. Chili? Yup, I’ll eat traditional chili, but there is another option.
Tomatillos are similar to tomatoes, but different enough. They will never be a favorite food of mine, but I find them to be a far superior fruit than the tomato. The taste and texture are similar. I wouldn’t say they’re interchangeable, but products can be adapted to use tomatillos instead of tomatoes.
My chili would be green, it would be something different. After talking about the idea with Marie, we starting working on details. A quick google search showed us that we’re not the first people to do this, which didn’t surprise me at all. Here in Minnesota where I grew up, I’ve never had it or heard of it, so I knew it would still be in a different category for most people.
I wanted to help, it was a competition for my work after all. I also knew that I needed to rely on Marie’s super-duper-amazing seasoning skills for this to actually come together as a tasty product. I did prep work, de-husking and cleaning the tomatillos and other such work, letting Marie do the actual skilled labor.
Although I didn’t win the competition, I know people enjoyed the chili and I think it’s a great recipe to share. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too, and perhaps some more people will be turned towards tomatillos.
... So, we set about making out own recipe. There would be beans, unlike traditional chili verde, because this is the midwest, where chili is supposed to have beans. (And I agree 100%!).
We wouldn't go for a lot of heat, instead bringing out a ton of flavors by roasting pretty much everything in the chili. Sure, there could still be the "it's GREEN" objection, but hey... can't please everyone!
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