I love spicy foods. Any type of cuisine that features hot peppers is one that I am certainly a fan of: Indian, Thai, Mexican- mas caliente! However, there is a line that can easily be crossed. One in which flavorful heat turns to flavor murdering scorch. Taste bud burning horror that overwhelms any of the other ingredients in the dish. Dip an apple in ghost pepper sauce and it will probably “taste” the same as a chunk of bread dipped in ghost pepper sauce.
So the challenge is this: find a way to create a five alarm, fiery chili that still tastes like a bowl of chili. There are a few tips and tricks that can help any home cook properly balance the level of heat in a meal. Adding in dairy, or acid, or sugar, or sometimes even simply adding in a starch or more of the other non-heat producing ingredients.
You can also add spice in layers and taste as you go to ensure that not any one of the steps in creating the meal adds too much of a kick. I roast all of the fresh peppers used in this chili and then peel the skin and remove the seeds and inner white membranes: this greatly reduces the spice all while enhancing the flavor of the vegetable.
This one turned out extremely well balanced! I used some warm spices that worked well with the chili heat: cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. I used vinegar, sugar, and tomato- all aimed at taming unwanted tongue singe. I did have to leave the table a couple times to blow my nose as I ate this one, but all the other flavors of this dish still came through creating a heated mix of beef, spice, and deliciously smooth broth.
You might be wondering why it is that people love fiery foods so much. Well, it’s actually a bit of food chemistry involving capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. Two ingredients found in peppers that basically trick your brain into thinking your mouth is getting burned, which, in turn, triggers the release of morphine-like hormones that are designed to help you deal with this foe pain.
I struggled with a name for this dish. “Five alarm chili” seems to be pretty popular. I know it’s supposed to be a cute little play on words. The dish is so hot that you need to call the fire department… is that a good thing? I mean, I’m all for inviting good looking firemen over for dinner, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t be showing up all that happy that I called them because my chili was kind of spicy.
“Dragon breath” is another one I’ve seen, along with “Fire in the Hole” (I’m guessing a reference to what might happen the day after you eat it…), and my favorite “Chuck Norris Chili”- because it packs a punch! I was unable to get a hold of Mr. Norris to see if he would allow me to use his name, so I made up my own. Bud Burner- as in “taste bud” burner. Get it! Eh, yeah, I know…not all that great. But better than a reference to a flaming butt hole!
So, grab yourself a bowl of this (taste) Bud Burner chili and enjoy the morphine-like spice high along with the soul satisfying warm spices, and belly filling beefiness . This is scientifically proven to be good-mood food
Start by prepping the chilis. Roast 3 habaneros, 2 poblanos, and 2 jalapenos, then skin, seed, chop and put in to a blender jar (Visit this page for tips on roasting and peeling peppers). While the peppers are roasting, rehydrate 4 dried guajillos and 2 dried chili de arbols in 1 cup of beef broth and 1 cup of water in a pot over high heat. Be sure to remove the stems and seeds from the peppers prior to boiling them in the liquid. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Then, add this mixture to the blender jar along with the roasted chilis, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, and ¼ cup of brown sugar. Puree until smooth.
For the chili: Brown 3 pounds of ground beef in a large pot along with 1 extra large (about 2 cups) of diced sweet onion. Once browned, drain the grease and return the pot to stove over high heat. Add in 2 T of ground cumin, 1 T garlic powder, 1 T of salt, 1 t of ground cinnamon, 1 t of ground ginger, 1 t of ground clove, 1 6oz can of tomato paste, 3 cups of beef broth, and the chili puree. Once this comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20-30 minutes. Stirring every 10 minutes.
I recommend serving with some tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, and Mexican white crumbling cheese (queso fresco).