Cooking with Beer: Smoked Beer Chilli
Words & Recipe by William FrancePhotography by Ross Featherstone
For the second installment of this series I decided to tackle the Chilli. Now I don’t know you well enough to assume you don’t know how to make a good version. It’s a dish as personal as the good old “Spag Bol” and everyone has their own tips and variations that make it such a widely loved staple of everyone’s personal recipe repertoire.
My version has constantly evolved, whether changed by people’s suggestions, published recipes or simply by what I’ve had in the fridge. That’s the joy, the combination of a few key factors and you have a chilli, most notably a good base of aromatics, onion, garlic, celery & carrot with a bucket load of cumin, a selection beans and, of course, chillies.
On top of the aforementioned staples, a few more interesting ingredients have managed to sneak into my chilli. The first was coffee, this may sound strange but it works so well with the earthy flavours of cumin. Next was cocoa powder, this accentuated the role of the coffee and when smoked paprika joined in, it was hitting chilli nirvana! Then I added black-eyed beans, I just think they have a better flavour than kidney beans.
Where does beer come in then?
Well, I decided to add Rauchbier. Rauchbier is a generally a German style. The one I use is Schenkerla from Bamberg. The malt is kilned or dried over fires made from beechwood logs, which means the malt has a smoked flavour to it. This transfers to the beer when it’s brewed. The style has been made this way for over two centuries. Personally I love the beer on its own but when combined with all the great aspects of a chilli it propels it to a whole new level.
I urge you to slip it into your recipe, but if you want to give mine a whirl here it is;
1kg of Stewing steak ( skirt, feather blade or shin)
2 tins of black-eyed beans
1 tin of tomatoes
250ml of Schenkerla Rauchbier 100ml of strong coffee
2 sticks of celery
2 peppers (any colour)
2 cloves of garlic
1 beef stock cube
2 tsp of smoked paprika 2 tsp of cumin
1 tbsp of cocoa
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tsp of thyme
Salt & pepper
Heat a couple of glugs of good oil to a heavy bottomed casserole dish. Brown beef & remove. Add fennel & cumin seeds & let them sizzle, then add all the chopped aromatics & chillies. Soften. Add all the ground spice & thyme and fry for 2 minutes.
Make a very strong coffee with the cocoa stirred in, add to the pan.
Add tomatoes & beer & stock cube.
Add beef & beans.
This then needs to cook for around two hrs or so on the stove.
You know when it’s ready because it’s your dish, serve with what you thinks best. Enjoy.