This is a Thanksgiving tradition now published for the 10th year in a row here and at my previous blog Idaho Samizdat
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and wanting to take a break from reading, thinking, and writing about nuclear energy, I’m offering my tried and true cooking instructions for something completely different.
By Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented to be eaten in the wide open west — chili. Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday.
These instructions take about an hour to complete. This chili has a few more vegetables and beans than some people might like, but we’re all trying to eat healthy. Although the name of this dish has the word “nuclear” in it, it isn’t that hot on the Scoville scale. If you want some other choices for nuclear chili there are lots of recipes on Google
The beer adds sweetness to the vegetables, as does the brandy, and is a good for cooking generally. In terms of the beer, which is an essential ingredient, you’ll still have five cans or bottles left to share with friends so there’s always that.
However, I recommend dark beers or amber ales such as Negra Modelo or Anchor Steam for drinking with this dish and Budweiser or any American pilsner for cooking it. Alternatives for drinking include local western favorites such as Moose Drool or Black Butte Porter, and regional amber ales like Alaskan Amber or Fat Tire. Do not cook with “light” beer. It’s a very bad idea! Your dinner guests will not forgive you.
History of the cooking instructions
There is no town by that name, but legend has it that way back in the 50s & 60s, when the place was called the National Reactor Testing Station, back shift workers on cold winter nights relished the lure of hot chili hence the use of the use of the name ‘Scoville” for shipping information.
In winter overnight temperatures on the Arco desert can plunge to -20F or more. The men and women running the reactors couldn’t drink beer, but they did have coffee. It’s still that way today.
Why ‘2nd day’ in the name?
This is “2nd day chili.” That means after you make it, put it in the unheated garage to cool, then refrigerate it, and reheat the next day. The flavors will have had time to mix with the ingredients, and on a cold Idaho night what you need that warms the body and the soul is a bowl of hot chili with fresh, hot from the oven cornbread on the side.
Dan’s 2nd day Idaho Nuclear Chili
If you make a double portion, you can serve it for dinner over a hot Idaho baked potato with salad. Enjoy.
1 lb chopped or ground beef (15% fat)
1 large onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 sweet green pepper
10-12 medium size mushrooms
1 can pinto beans (plain, no “sauce”)
1 can black beans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can small, white ‘shoepeg” corn
1 12 oz can beer
1 cup hot beef broth
1 tablespoon cooking brandy or sherry and bourbon is ok too
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno peppers
2-4 tablespoons red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1. Chop the vegetables into small pieces and brown them in cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking brandy near the end. Drain thoroughly. Sprinkle chili powder, salt, pepper, to taste on vegetables while they are cooking. The onions should be more or less translucent to be fully cooked.
2. Brown the meat separately and drain the fat. Also sprinkle chili power and the cumin on the meat while cooking.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Be sure to drain the beans, and tomatoes before adding. Simmer slowly for at least one-to-two hours Stir occasionally.
4. Set aside and refrigerate when cool. If the pot doesn’t fit in the frig, and the garage is unheated, put it out here to cool off.
5. Reheat the next day. Garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serve with cornbread.
Feeds 2-4 adults.
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