Sometimes here at Cooking and Beer, we like to go beyond just pairing beer with food and just go right ahead and stick the beer in the recipe. Now, we do not recommend doing this with just any recipe (after all, I am sure that your grandmother would not appreciate getting served some beer pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving . . . especially if it is her recipe that you are modifying). On the other hand, the flavors in some foods can be boosted by adding a beer (or two) to the recipe. This works especially well with spicy dishes, like chili con carne!
A good rule of thumb for cooking with beer is to use it when you would normally have to add water. This does not mean go ahead and boil your spaghetti in a vat of beer. I imagine that that would end in quite a mess on the stove. But, if a recipe calls for a cup or two of water, and needs to simmer for a while, feel free to replace the water with a good beer. Chili is great for this application, especially if you have a chile beer on hand.
We just so happened to have a bottle of Twisted Pine’s Ghost Face Killah on hand. Justine, nor I, were able to actually drink the beer by itself so we decided to throw it into a chili recipe. Normally, we would add a jalapeno or a habanero to our chili just to kick it up a knotch or too. But, with the beer being as spicy as it is, this will not be necessary. And, pasta is a great way to serve the chili!
Not only does the addition of the chile beer make this not your average chili dish, we take it to the next level by dousing the chili in freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese and a few slices of fresh avocado. After all, you can’t go wrong with the combination of heat and avocado!
If you do not like really spicy food, feel free to use a beer that is not quite as hot, or just replace the chile beer with a good pilsner or brown ale. Also, this dish is great for pot-lucks or if you are having company over since you can make it the day before and just heat it up when you are ready to serve your guests!
Now, for the beer pairing. While we have already use an entire beer in the recipe, drinking this spicy chili with a chile beer would just be too much heat in our opinion. So, as with many spicy dishes, whether they fall into the southwestern, spanish, or mexican cuisines, we like to pair this chili with an american IPA. American IPAs have a very floral and fruity aroma and while being rather hoppy, they maintain a subtle sweetness that helps balance the heat in the chili. In fact, as a good rule of thumb, most spicy dishes will pair well with a hoppy beer (IPA or IIPA) since the heat in the chili comes from capcasin, an acid, in the peppers. On the other hand, the bitterness in an IPA comes from the acidic nature of the hops used. This combination of acids melds together and helps compliment one another. And, the subtle sweet tones in an IPA help provide an overall pleasing mouthfeel which will prevent you from feeling like there is a match in your mouth.
- 1/2 lb chorizo sausage
- 1/2 lb ground beef (preferable 80/20)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 12oz bottle chile beer (Ghost Face Killah)
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme chopped
- 1 25oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 5oz can of tomato paste
- 1 15.5 oz can of black-eyed peas
- 5 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- pinch of ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 lb pasta (medium shells work well)
- 1/4 lb grated sharp cheddar
- 1 avocado
- Heat the dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and chorizo sausage and cook until golden brown. Be careful not to overcook the meat. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon, begin sure to retain as much of the fat as possible to use for cooking the onions and peppers.
- Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute for 8-10 minutes. They should start to caramelize at this point. Add the garlic and saute for just a minute or two, or until the garlic becomes aromatic.
- Now, add the beer to the onions, peppers, and garlic and let it come to a simmer. Allow the beer to reduce by half before proceeding so as to concentrate the flavors from the beer (10 minutes).
- Add the oregano, thyme, tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, chile powder, cumin, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then cover and allow the chili to simmer for 45-60 mins. The chili should thicken quite a bit in this time.
- While the chili is cooking, bring a stock pot full of well salted water to a boil. When the chili has about 15 minutes remaining, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Strain the pasta well.
- To plate, we recommend using shallow bowl and first place a nice helping of pasta on the bottom. Then smother the pasta with the chili and sprinkle the freshly grated cheese on top. Layer a few slices of avocado on top and dig in!