My daughter Emily has been a Godsend the past few weeks; working beside me almost nonstop in preparations for both selling my home and moving. We started with cleaning out storage areas and closets and sometimes I left the keep/don’t keep decisions up to her. Otherwise I might still consider doing cross-stitch even if I haven’t made anything in the past two decades! But it also means she has discovered some treasures that she and her sister thought they didn’t want until they saw them. She now has a charming old kids school desk that I refinished a bazillion years ago and will also be inheriting my grandmother Bathe’s china hutch that I’ve had since I was 18 years old. How fitting that I had also packed away my first set of china I got when I was married; it will be filling that hutch! This is all good. So…what’s that got to do with chili?
Well, Emily’s time has been so dedicated to my needs that she has been stretched pretty thin for her own so when she was pressed for time to bring to bring chili to her company’s annual Chili Cook-Off this past week, I offered to be her sous chef. Preparing it here also meant using up some more of the pantry staples I don’t want to either store or move so it was a definite win-win for both of us. It’s a great source of pride to see how innovative Emily is with both her cooking and eating (she loves Sushi and I only love those fried spider roll thingys!). I know there were times when my kids were younger that they resented some of the responsibilities brought on them as the result of being raised by a single parent but over the years it has served them well and that includes their capability in the kitchen. Emily is by far the most knowledgeable and successful cook of her circle of friends and apparently holds her own during a company wide cooking event too…her chili was the winner!
Mom did make one little suggestion and Em has agreed a good one; she has used white wine when making this chili before because that is what she drinks; I thought chili required something a bit more robust so she bought some dark Guinness beer for this effort and we both loved it. It was the one ingredient that was a clear indicator of what low and slow cooking brings to the ingredients. For the first couple of hours in the crockpot, the beer taste was evident but once the chili had cooked all day, it simply added to the overall flavor profile and the end result was simply delicious.
This is a crowd pleasing chili; not too hot, not too tame, nope…just right! Em’s professional cohorts did not benefit from the garnish of lime crema; both the size of tasting samples and the number of people being served forced that decision but do try it, it’s not just a pretty face!