Baseball and hot dogs? Maybe during the summer. But by time we start nearing the Fall Classic, it’s time for everyone to step up their game.
The air is crisp, leaves are falling and the glory of summer is all but a distant memory. But the action on the diamond is just heating up and the greatest seven games of the baseball season are about to commence. Major League Baseball’s World Series pits the American and National leagues against one another in a grueling contest to crown the best baseball team on Planet Earth.
To fuel the celebration of these games, this bachelor has raided the local farmer’s market, loaded down the freezer with ice cold beverages, fired up the grill, tuned in early to the ballgame and invited a gaggle of great friends to chow down as we cheer, jeer and holler from the first pitch to the very last out.
The all star of our grand ole’ baseball barbeque is one of my fall favorites – Grilled Rojo Chicken Chili. It’s simple to prepare, but it’s loaded with a ton of kick, smoky essence and wholesome flavor. The ingredients are sautéed, grilled, garnished and from pot to plate within 90 minutes. This is a bold, hearty chili with strong regional influences – stewed in a red ancho chili and tomato base, packed with succulent grilled chicken, a cornucopia of colorful vegetables, fresh herbs and coarse seasonings.
10 Tips for World Series-Caliber Chili:
- Prepare as much as possible the evening before. Soaking the beans, grinding herbs and spices, chopping vegetables, marinating the chicken, etc.
- On game day, initiate preparation and cooking with the end in mind. Game time is 8 p.m. where I live. The recipe requires 60 minutes. Give yourself an additional 15 minutes of leeway and start at 6:45 p.m. This also allows sufficient time for last-minute fantasy team updates and lineup changes.
- I love my chili spicy. Like, smoke-out-of-your-ears spicy. But not all enjoy a spoonful of kick. Consider serving a milder version when cooking for a crowd. But make sure you have a variety of peppers, hot sauces and ground cayenne on hand for those who want to tune up their chili and ring the five-alarm bell.
- If using canned beans – purchase “no sodium” or “low sodium,” as the additional salt is both unnecessary and throws off the flavor profile of the chili.
- Grill chicken with the lid OPEN over direct heat for only a few minutes per side (“par cooking the chicken”) while integrating the smoky essence from your TRU-Infrared™ Grill. Fully submerge the shredded chicken into the simmering chili to finish the cooking process.
- Taste. Season. Taste. Season. And… taste again, just to be sure.
- In terms of chili consistency, thin with chicken stock and thicken with tomato paste – but only in increments of a tablespoon at a time.
- Install a rusty 1973 Ford Pinto 4-cylinder engine in your finely tuned 2014 Ferrari F430 and I PROMISE your Ferrari will perform like a beat-up 1973 Pinto. It looks like a Ferrari, but I promise it’s a Pinto. Lesson: Buy quality chicken. Not the stuff on sale for 68 cents per pound. I’m talking REAL chicken like the two-legged, winged creatures that have been humanely treated, non-chemically injected, nourished with fresh grains and allowed to roam freely in sunlight. The extra $2-3 per pound is a difference maker. Buy real chicken. Make Ferrari Chili. Taste the difference.
- Add bacon.
- There are no hard and fast rules to chili – or soft and slow ones, for that matter. Experiment. Eat REAL food. Drink. Be merry! Repeat.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red onions, diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 strips bacon, chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped and seeded
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cups canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 28-ounce cans tomatoes, not drained
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped and loosely packed
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- 2 pounds chicken thighs, approximately 8-12 thighs
- Olive oil
- Garnish with chopped spring onion, cilantro leaves, sour cream and hot sauce
- In heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, bring oil to a gentle simmer. Toss in the onion and garlic, then sauté 10-15 minutes or until beginning to caramelize. Add the bacon, sautéing for additional 3 minutes.
- Turn down heat to low and add all remaining ingredients except the chicken and olive oil. Season to taste, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring regularly until sauce thickens and the desired consistency is achieved.
- Meanwhile, preheat grill to its hottest setting.
- Season chicken with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn.
- With grill lid closed, sear the chicken for 4-6 minutes per side over direct heat. Remove chicken from the grill and place it under a tin foil tent for 5 minutes. Then, using 2 forks shred the chicken. Stir meat and juices into the chili pot during final 10 minutes of cooking.
- Remove chili pot from burner. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Spoon into bowls. Garnish with chopped spring onion, cilantro leaves, a dollop of sour cream and a splash of hot sauce. Serve.