Have you ever been given or purchased a unique food item, where later when you had it at home, staring at you from the kitchen counter, daring you to cook with it, and you had no idea what to do? I have and I am not ashamed to admit it. Hence the story of my adventures in cooking with scorpion peppers.
Spicy food is a passion for me, especially any dish the includes hot peppers. I relish the euphoria that quickly follows the release of the capsaicin in my body from that very first bite. I am a true “chili-head.” The irony there is that I was born in Wisconsin, which by birth makes me a “cheese-head.” I guess I need to work on combining the two together then and see what I can come up with in the kitchen!
This recipe took a few tries before I got the heat level to a point where my family was convinced I wasn’t trying to kill anyone. My heat tolerance is much higher than theirs, so when I no longer saw tears streaming down their faces or guzzling glasses of milk afterward, I knew I had it right.
Mix up a batch of the salsa if you just want something fiery to go along with a bag of tortilla chips, or go one step further and slowly simmer the chili in the crock pot all day and enjoy a bowl of the deep, smoky heat on a cold winter’s night!
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried Mexican or regular oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 lb. whole tomatillos, husked and washed
5 whole Roma tomatoes
3 white onions, peeled and quartered
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 scorpion pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup Liquid Smoke, mesquite flavor
Juice from one freshly squeezed lime
Base for Chili:
1 lb. ground sirloin
1lb. ground turkey
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 – 12-ounce bottle dark Mexican beer (Negro Modelo)
1 can tomato paste
1 – 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1-ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Spice Mix: Combine the ingredients in the spice mix and set the mixture aside.
1) Place the tomatillos, Roma tomatoes, quartered white onions and garlic cloves on a roasting pan and set them under the broiler in the oven until they begin to blacken – 8 to 10 minutes.
2) Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool.
3) When cool, transfer the vegetables and any liquid that has seeped out, along with the rest of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree.
Base for Chili:
1) Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and turkey and cook until the meat is crumbly and no pink remains.
2) Add the fresh onions, and 1 tablespoon of the remaining salt to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
3) Add the spice mixture and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the beer, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate, cook for 1 minute longer.
4) Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, and add the bay leaves.
5) Cover and cook the chili on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the sauce has reached a deep burgundy color.
6) Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cilantro and parsley. Optional Garnish: Serve the chili hot in bowls, topped with grated cheddar, chopped green onion, and sour cream.