Winter Breakfast Chili Over Eggs in Sourdough Bowls
De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.
The layers of flavor in this chili come from the toasted dried chiles used to make the chile paste, the savory chorizo and bacon, and the addition of some yeasty beer. It’s a rich, deep, slightly spicy dish that shines on a breakfast or dinner table. For breakfast, serve it over fluffy scrambled eggs in a sourdough bowl with broiled cheese on top. Since the chili can be prepared in advance, it makes the perfect dish for a busy holiday morning.
Chili Paste Ingredients:
3 dried ancho chiles (about 7/8 ounces), stems and seeds removed, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces
1-2 dried árbol chiles, stems removed, pods split, seeds removed
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoos cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/4 pound dried pinto beans (about 1/2 cup), rinsed and picked over
1 medium onions, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon light molasses
3 ounces chorizo, with casings removed
a few strips of bacon
1/2 (12-ounce) bottle milk lager (I don’t know anything about beer, so I just used Red Stripe and it came out perfectly)*
4 eggs for scrambling
1 tablespoon butter
4 sourdough boules (about 4 inches in diameter)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream and cilantro for serving
*If you don’t cook drink alcohol (I don’t, either), you should know that according to this chart, only about 5-10% of alcohol will remain in the entire dish by the time you’re done. The beer is very important to the flavor and I don’t recommend skipping it.
Note on scheduling: This chili can be fully prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for a few days. You can hollow out fresh bread boules the day before serving and wrap them tightly to keep them soft. When ready to eat, reheat the chili in the microwave for a few minutes, stirring periodically. Scramble your eggs, assemble the dish, broil the cheese on top, and serve.
Other notes: Make sure to wear gloves when working with chiles and avoid touching your eyeballs (or other people’s eyeballs. But why would you be doing that? Weirdo.) You can substitute 1/4 cup chili powder and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper if you don’t want to use the dried chiles, but I highly, highly recommend you give it a try. It’s so easy, and very gratifying.
Soak the beans: In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, bring 8 cups of water, beans, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and cover it. Let it stand for 1 hour before draining and rinsing the beans and rinsing out the pot.
Prepare chile paste: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Toast ancho chiles in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant (4 to 6 minutes). Reduce the heat if they start to smoke. Place the chiles into the bowl of a food processor and let them cool. Leave the skillet unwashed for future use.
Add the árbol chiles, cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the food processor with the ancho chiles and pulverize for about 2 minutes, or until finely ground. Then, with the food processor still running, slowly add 1/4 cup of chicken broth until a smooth paste forms (about 45 seconds). Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer the paste to a bowl and set aside.
Make the chili: Put the onions in the food processor and pulse them until they’re chopped (about 4 pulses). Add the jalapeños and pulse until the mixture reaches the consistency of a chunky salsa, about 4 more pulses, scraping the bowl if needed.
In your stock pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened and the moisture has cooked off, about 7 to 9 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute until it’s fragrant, just about 1 minute. Add the chili paste, tomatoes, and molasses and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and the drained beans and bring the whole mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to simmer.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in your skillet to your desired crispiness. Remove it to drain on a paper towel lined plate. In the same skillet, cook the chorizo until browned through (add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil if needed to supplement the bacon grease). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to the Dutch oven. Discard any liquid in the skillet (but don’t rub off the stuck-on bits!) and return to the heat. Add 1/2 of the bottle of lager to the skillet, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits, and bring it to a simmer. Pour the lager into the Dutch oven. Stir to combine and return the mixture to a simmer.
Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook until the meat and beans are fully tender, 1½ to 2 hours (I kept test-tasting the beans, since they took the longest — mine actually took longer than 2 hours). While the chili cooks, hollow out 4 sourdough bread boules for serving. If you’re not serving the chili today, wrap these tightly to preserve their freshness for the next day. Otherwise, set them aside.
When the chili is finished, let it stand, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Stir the chili well and season to taste with salt. (Afterwards, you can store it in a tupperware in the refrigerator if you’re not eating it right away.)
Assemble the dish: When you’re ready to serve your chili, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Scramble 4 eggs and distribute them evenly between the bread boules. Ladle chili over the eggs in each boule. Top with shredded cheddar and place on a baking sheet covered in foil. Broil on high for a couple of minutes, watching closely, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately with cilantro, avocado, chopped onions, and sour cream.
Recipe by: Recipe adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated, as found on Brown Eyed Baker
Yield: 4 servings