Is it Cold in here?

Why, yes…it is.  Downright Chili.

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You generally don’t hear about chili being made in Wisconsin in the middle of the summer.  The heat and humidity that hammer down on this state in July make it far, FAR too dangerous to cook something in the house that requires the stove burner to be on more than a few minutes.

Each minute you’re generating heat within the house requires 5 minutes of cooler temps from somewhere (like…the fridge) to get the indoor temperature back down to a reasonable number.

Ok, ok…yes, we do have air conditioning…but we’re too cheap to use it!

Besides…the hot & stickies give us a perfect excuse to NOT cook in the house, but to take things in the backyard, ignite our new flame pits, and char some animal proteins on the altar.

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Quote semi-stolen from ‘The Coneheads’

It also gives a great excuse to suck down large amounts of ice-cold beer, play ‘swat the mosquito’ once the sun goes down…and sometimes, the hose comes out if anyone in the backyard looks like they’re starting to melt.

But I digress – this isn’t about the dismally hot & humid weather which usually occurs in Wisconsin in July & August – this is about a different kind of heat.

Chile heat…

Chili is just one of those meals – a few ingredients, a few spices, and a lot of time in the cooking process so everything ends up a uniformly spiced bowl of stew.  But because it’s a simple meal to toss together, makes the house smell great as it’s simmering, and everyone’s taste buds are a bit different, everyone has THE, undisputed, BEST recipe for the stuff.  All other recipes are worse than recycled dog food.

Chili Wars are amusing.  Texans, in particular, have been raging over kidney beans for decades,

 

Get them damnable veggies OUTTA there – that ain’t chili!

 

While in Cincinnati, chili has an entirely different spice profile,  allows for add-ons after the cooking is done (onions, cheese, beans), and is served over spaghetti.

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Anything with this much cheese on top is guaranteed to be a big hit in Wisconsin

I’m no stranger to the Chili Wars.  My ‘BEST EVER!’ chili recipe is a mixture of ground beef & pork sausage, tomato paste & sauce, garlic, onions, kidney beans, and lots of chili powder.   The individual eat-ee is allowed to add more onion, cheese, and/or sour cream to their individual bowl – and it is always served with fresh-baked bread & butter, and saltine crackers.

Mess with this complex cooking and serving method at your own peril!

The wuzband, on the other hand, made a recycled-Franken-dog-food that nobody in their right mind would call chili.  He dumped in ground beef, noodles, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and used V-8 vegetable juice for the broth.

He.  Doesn’t.  Add. Chili. Powder.

That’s bland beef vegetable soup – not chili!

 

Now, with Keto, I can’t use the beans.  I also can’t serve my chili with the bread or the crackers…but I wanted chili.

Needed chili.

Even though it’s a million degrees outside, and I could fry a hamburger by sticking the raw meat on the window.

Must.  Have.  Chili.

So I started digging through the web.  Read up on dozens of chili variations.  Decided against going the Texas route, because chili NEEDS something to offset the meat and sauce.

For Bella

For Belladonna Took

What I came up with?  Kohlrabi.

It’s a lesser-known bulb vegetable in the cabbage family, with a tough and fibrous outer shell.  The meat inside is smooth, crunchy, and very mildly flavored.  It doesn’t mush up (which is a great advantage over beans) when you cook it, but retains the shape you cut it into.

Even after the long simmer-time required for a great pot of chili, It retained a bit of its crunch, all the while soaking up all that fantastic flavor.

With 3.6 carbs per bulb – it’s a delightful low-carb bean substitute!

 

Because I’d been reading so many varied recipes, I decided to tinker with the flavorings as well as the bean substitute.  Chili powder is great and all, but I wanted something a bit more exotic.

Coffee cold from the pot.  And a bit of cocoa powder.

 

I’m sure the chili purists out there are preparing a lynching as I type…

 

It was an amazing bowl of almost-chili, with the earthier flavors from the coffee & chocolate giving a dark and rich ‘barely bitter’ note to compliment the heat from the chili powder & chilies.   You got the earthy/bitter note on the first bite, and the heat gently rose on the back of your tongue after the 3rd.  It was transformative.

I like food that delivers layers of flavors – it’s like reading a book with your tongue.

Here’s how I made it:

 

Keto Kinda-Chili with Kohlrabi
The Stuff
2.5 pounds ground beef
12oz ground breakfast sausage
3 Medium Kohlrabi, peeled and cubed
1 large white onion, cubed
12 oz can tomato paste
14 oz can beef broth
10 oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes with Chilies
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 TB cocoa powder
1.5 TB chili powder (or adjust for taste)
1 tsp ground coriander  (or adjust for taste)
The Execution
Brown the beef and sausage in a pan until no longer pink.  Drain
the fat, and place in a crock pot.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and beef broth to the crock
pot.  Stir until the paste is blended into the rest of the wet
ingredients.
Add the cubed kohlrabi, onion, coffee, cocoa, chili powder
and coriander.  Stir to dissolve the dry spices.
Cook on low heat for 2 hours.  Stir, and check the seasoning
ratio, adding more spices to taste.
Cook on high heat for 2 more hours.  Serve with any extras you want.
Serves 10 (or 1 teenaged boy)