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This recipe started life as Double Buzz Chili. That name was a tribute to a great NYC event at Amor y Amargo, Double Buzz combined the barista craft of fine coffee with the bartender craft of great cocktails. The result was a revelation on how two seemingly disparate ingredients can come together to make something truly special. When I was playing around with a Seattle style chili using strong brewed coffee as a base, I started thinking about those Double Buzz events. I’m a fan of beer in chili so it seemed logical to add a coffee stout to the mix. These days, I prefer a good Imperial stout as it adds more sweetness to the finished chili.
Flash forward a couple of years to the Music & Food Project. I wanted to use this chili on a hot dog recipe but was having trouble finding an appropriately punny name. There are a couple of decent songs with “Double Buzz” titles. Nothing that really seemed to fit. I was starting to give up until I searched “Double” and stumbled on this Slothrust song. In a small world scenario, it turns out a friend of mine from my record label days works at Slothrust’s label. I remember listening to them a year or so ago after she posted a video, and now they often show up in my Spotify indie feeds. I certainly never planned on using them as a recipe title. It’s one of the pleasant side effects of doing this sort of recipe project – discovering new bands when trying to find recipe names. I have spent the day listening to Slothrust and have definitely become a fan. Plus – this particular song has been stuck in my head for days! All because I needed a name for chili with coffee and beer and they have a song named “Double Down”.
As with most of my chili recipes, this starts with soaking dried chiles for a half an hour. Making a chile paste adds time to the process, but the end result is worth it. I usually use Guajillo, Puya or Chiles de Arbol as they result in the traditional red style chili preferred by most. This recipe uses Pasilla chiles resulting in a dark brown, almost black, sauce and a hint of raisin flavor to match the coffee and stout elements. They also bring a lot of heat to the mix. (So – technically this is a triple buzz chili, but whatever.) If you want to get the same fruity dark sauce with less heat, switch up to a Mulato or Ancho chile.
While the chiles are soaking, dice up some chicken and get it marinating in a bit of seasoning. I keep this pretty simple as most of the flavor in this chili is going to come from the chile, beer and coffee paste. I use a quick and simple brown sugar and spice rub tossed with the diced chicken and allowed to marinate for at least a half-hour. You really won’t taste much of it in the finished chili but it does help balance some of the bitterness.
Oh yeah – did I forget to mention this is a bitter-sweet-heat chili (that’s life…hmm perhaps I should have gone with The Verve). The Pasilla and coffee contribute the bitter while the stout, depending on what you use, will add some sweet. It’s definitely an earthy chili and unlike most traditional styles. If you’re looking to balance thing out to a more middle of the road dish, just add two tablespoons of brown sugar when you add the chile puree.
Finally, and this is true with all stews and chili, it’s better after a night in the fridge. This is great after simmering a bit, but it gets even better after a night of allowing those flavors to blend and the bitter-sweet edge to mellow. I prefer it Frito Pie style over a bed of tortilla chips topped with cheddar sour cream and scallions. It’s also a left-of-center chili for a hot dog, chili fries or even a chili burger. This won’t be your everyday go-to chili, but it’ll certainly intrigue the more adventurous chili lover.
DOUBLE DOWN CHILI
Chicken and peppers in a Pasilla chile-spiked Coffee & Stout sauce with Colby Jack, sour cream, and scallions
Makes about 2 quarts
12 Pasilla chiles
1 1/4 cup strong coffee
14-ounces of stout beer (use an Imperial stout for more flavor)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, medium dice
2 red pepper, medium dice
2 poblano, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-pounds chicken breast, ½” cubes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
Place diced chicken in a medium bowl. Add brown sugar, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Toss to combine all spices and coat the chicken. Place in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour.
Rehydrate the chiles in boiling water for at least ½ hour. When chiles are soft, de-stem and place into a blender with the coffee, stout and 2 tablespoons of chile soaking water. Blend until smooth.
Place a heavy bottom pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and let heat until shimmering. Add onions and garlic and saute until garlic starts to lightly brown. Add red pepper and poblano and continue to cook until peppers are tender but not mushy. Add the chicken and any spice residue in the chicken bowl. Cook until chicken is lightly browned.
Add the chile puree mixture. Stir to combine completely. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.