Sweet and Spicy Award-Wining Chili

With swimsuit season looming, and butterscotch blondies in my not so distant past, I have delved hardcore back into Atkins. I feel good, but I'm not on a mission to make this into a low-carb blog, so I've decided against posting the majority of what I've cooked this week. The only exception would be the unBELIEVABLE German Chocolate cake we baked for Josh's mom's birthday, of which I totally forgot to take pictures. Guess that means I'll just have to make it again someday soon...5 pounds from now.

Anyway, tonight's meal was an honest-to-goodness award winning Sweet and Spicy Chili. Really. It won my family's annual chili cookoff award last Christmas. Say what you want, but that was some pretty steep competition. I'd never felt simultaneously bummed and satisfied in one moment until I saw my brother's face after it was annouced I beat him by precisely one vote.

That was my trophy, by the way. Rather appropriate for a chili cookoff, wouldn't you say?

I wish I could remember where the original recipe came from, but whoever dreamed it up is a genius. The flavors in this chili are out of this world, but of course the trick here is to let the chili cook long and slow to allow all the different flavors to meld. What's even more amazing is that even as they combine, you can just barely pick out everything individually: coffee, brown sugar and dark porter beer (Guinness is preferred) are unexpected but oh so welcome.

It's a good thing this stuff freezes so well, because it makes more than we could ever hope to eat in a week. I've already eaten it three times since Monday night.

You will need:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
16 oz. coarse ground beef
12 oz. sirloin (prime grade is best), cubed into 1/4 in. chunks
1 large yellow onion, chopped into 1/4 in. dice
1 shallot, diced finely
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced 1/4 in.
1 green bell pepper, diced 1/4 in.
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped with seeds and ribs intact
1 1/2 cups tomato paste (2 6-ounce cans)
1 1/2 tsp. fine-ground instant espresso
Scant 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cayenne
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt (may find you need more - I kept it to about 3 1/2 teaspoons)
3 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups beef stock
1 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (drained)
12 oz. dark beer (Guinness recommended)

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, shallot, garlic, red and green bell peppers and jalapeno peppers and saute for 5 minutes until vegetables are translucent.

In the meantime, heat a separate skillet and cook ground beef and sirloin until no longer pink. Drain excess fat and add beef to vegetables. Stir to combine. Sautee for a couple of minutes, then add tomato paste, espresso, sugar and all seasonings, including salt.

After 10 minutes, add beans, stock, tomatoes and beer. Stir well and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for about an hour.

This is not traditional chili, nor is it Texas chili (my apologies to my homeland). It is, however, very unique and a must-try for the foodies out there. You can still serve it up traditionally with sour cream, cheese and green onions, and cornbread crackers if you can get your hands on them. If you try this one, please report back!

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