For years, a former housemate of mine would prepare a huge bowl of chili for the day of the Superbowl and host quite the blowout party.
Days before the game, he would marinate sirloin in tequila, tossing in jalapenos and green peppers, Tabasco and spices, several types of beans, and ground chuck, and then simmer it all with a North American lager of some sort.
It was a big pot, a big production, and he called it —excuse my language— Asshole Chili, for the feared, and attested to, after-burn. Some of the meat would char, and little specks of burnt black matter would suffuse the goop. Plenty of beer would flow, but large unconsumed quantities would invariably remain the next morning, each year.
Now that time has passed, the true story can be told of the one year when the chili became an accidental culinary hit.
My housemate had done the ritual, cooking a particularly large quantity. Saturday, he moved the pot to the basement to cool overnight.
The next morning, Superbowl Sunday morning, we went down to the basemen to bring the pot back up to the kitchen stove to be re-warmed. It was a bad sight. The handle rivets, aluminum, had reacted with the steel pot. The entire batch of chili was foaming over the top, the color a grayish brown. He disposed of it, not pleased. Guests would be arriving in six hours.
I suggested an emergency plan of action. Why not go to the local supermarket, buy some cheap chili seasoning packets, some cheap ground beef, a couple cans of beans and tomato sauce, and then toss it all together, and simmer it until the guests arrived? The key would be not to tell anyone that anything was amiss or different.
And, it worked —but maybe too well.
Folks helped themselves to several bowls. "This is the best batch Asshole Chili you've ever made," they repeatedly told him. He would grin and bear it.
That would be Asshole Chili's swan song. The next year, he would retire the recipe.
WILD IRISH CHILI
A few days ago, I was in a restaurant-wine-beer-bar in Greenville, South Carolina. Attached to it, and in fact sharing an entrance, was a purveyor of records (you remember those 12-inch vinyl music platters, don't you?) and compact discs. I avoid such places these days; they do great damage to my wallet. But I was there, so in I went.
Fortunately, I was on a tight working schedule to visit several pubs and beer shops, so I had time to purchase only one CD: a used disc by the late great vocalist and pianist Shirley Horn.
It features her usual trio: Steve Williams on drums and Charles Ables on bass. And then there's the rest of the lineup!!! A young Roy Hargove (1996) on trumpet; Washington D.C. stalwarts bassist Steve Novosel and tenor saxman/postman Buck Hill; stars of the jazz firmament Elvin Jones, Billy Hart, and Joe Henderson.
It's called The Main Ingredient. Not only is the music exquisite — Shirley Horn was one of the great chanteuse/pianists of the latter portion of the 20th century — but printed on the back page of the liner notes is this recipe for ... Beef & Beer.
Look at the final two ingredients: a can of beer — Heineken — and some Wild Irish Rose. In case you don't remember days of (or pretend that you don't) searching for a quick cheap buzz, the recipe puts "wine" in parentheses, and better yet, calls for a half pint of the stuff. But, keeping it healthy, there's an admonition against using any salt!
Here are some less 'wild' recipes for the historic game tomorrow:
- My recipe for a vegetarian Super bowl of chili.
- Bobby Flay's recipe (carnivore) for chili (paired with Small Craft Warning Uber Pils)
- Beer historian Bob Skilnik has 2 meat-full chili recipes.
- Clipper City Brewing has a recipe for barleywine chili (Below Decks) on its website.
- Beer cookbooker Lucy Saunders offers her suggestions.
- and Bryce Eddings, our friend-in-beer at About.com, has posted a slew of recipes for gameday.