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Ben's Chili Bowl (DC) Recipe? Help me hack it.

 
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:15 am    Post subject: Ben's Chili Bowl (DC) Recipe? Help me hack it. Reply with quote

I've never eaten there, but

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deXOfWKLuVc

When Adam of Man V Food, was there, he dumps out the contents of the bag.. So I'm hoping someone who lives in the DC area, or is well versed in chili making, can help me figure out what's going on in there..

Maybe it's the Linux/BSD user inside of me, but I hope that perhaps together, we can "hack" the recipe.

In the youtube I posted above, at 4:12, what I think the white flakes are should be dried onions. I also see the slightly dark red powder should be chili powder, and the dried onions seem to have a slight yellow to them, so I'm assuming cumin or turmeric or both.

What we know is that he's got meat and water, and tomato paste, and that's it for the "wet" ingredients, so no bell peppers, no tomatoes, etc.. and no fresh onions. No beans.

So I hope there are enough engineers on here to help me hack a recipe.

I'd love to hear from those who've eaten at Ben's. I'm hoping your palette will help us out.

Thanks!
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Auspicious



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 58
Location: on the boat, Annapolis, MD

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll stop by Bens the next time I'm in DC and see what I can figure out.

Incidentally, Chick & Ruth's personifies the culinary wasteland of Annapolis. Everything I have ever tried there was horribly greasy. Add that to a terribly crowded dining room and indifferent wait staff and the whole thing is just sad.
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, yes, I'd like to get a first hand account, and if you are up for it, kind of take some closeup shots of the chili and see what you can see inside it.

The Ben Ali is from Trinidad, and what they are famous for is a Trinidad curry chicken. I have obtained several versions of that recipe, and looked at the common ingredients that makes trinidad chili distinct.

So I'm going to the spice store today to pick up the ingredients.

I also have a no-beans chili recipe that I think is the closest to Ben's. It uses a large amount of turmeric but I will be substituting that for Trinidad curry powder. Hopefully this week, I will be able to make the chili.
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:45 am    Post subject: Update Reply with quote

So I tweaked and combined a bunch of recipes; and made some chili tonight.

A few things off the bat: I used turkey instead of beef (because that's all I had in the frig) and I think I put in a bit too much onion.

It smelled great; but the meat and the sauce didn't really gel.. when it finished cooking, it looked more like taco meat, instead of like chili..

And the chili didn't have a lot of flavor.. So I don't know what's going on, might be the turkey instead of beef; but it just wasn't flavorful, and it smelled like chili but didn't taste like chili..

Suggestions for a gooie'er chili?

Recipe I'm using right now:

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayonne pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of Trinidad Curry Powder ('cause Ben's from Trinidad)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Update Reply with quote

twoblink wrote:
So I tweaked and combined a bunch of recipes; and made some chili tonight.

A few things off the bat: I used turkey instead of beef (because that's all I had in the frig) and I think I put in a bit too much onion.

It smelled great; but the meat and the sauce didn't really gel.. when it finished cooking, it looked more like taco meat, instead of like chili..

And the chili didn't have a lot of flavor.. So I don't know what's going on, might be the turkey instead of beef; but it just wasn't flavorful, and it smelled like chili but didn't taste like chili..

Suggestions for a gooie'er chili?

Recipe I'm using right now:

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayonne pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of Trinidad Curry Powder ('cause Ben's from Trinidad)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


Where's yer liquid? And yeah, turkey doesn't have enough flavor or fat to bring the flavors together. Fat is a flavor delivery system, otherwise the spices, herbs & chilies stick to themselves and don't homogenize. And, "a bit" too much onion? Dude, that was way too much onion. Keep it on par with the other ingredients, 1 tsp or 1 tablespoonful. Ace the curry powder, ace the cayenne. Get your basic recipe down, keep it simple. Then you can begin to add the other ingredients and build on a solid foundation.

Biggles

ps - Googled it and found some similar recipes from people who says it's "close".

INGREDIENTS:
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lbs ground beef (or use half ground pork)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups beef broth
5 Tbsp. chili powder
6 Tbsp. corn meal or masa harina
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaves
PREPARATION:
Heat oil and saute garlic and onion until light golden, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add chili powder, sugar and cumin. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until evenly browned. Stir in remaining ingredients; reduce heat to low and simmer until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Makes about 20 servings of hot dog chili on chili dogs.
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, found out that I put in WAY too much onions. So reduced that, I googled around and found the same recipe so I'm cooking that as we speak. Will give an update when it's done.
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I just made it.. So I used the ingredients from the recipe with a few tweaks. First, I didn't have 2lbs of ground beef, I had 1lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork, so I mixed the two.. (Half-smoke chili???)

Instead of browning the meat, I did like I saw them do at Ben's, meat, water (actually, I used soup stock, more on this later) and emulsified it first. Then added the spices, substituting 1 onion for 1/4 cup of dried onions, and 2 cloves of garlic were substituted with 1/2 tsp of dried garlic.

Cooked it for 80 minutes.

Observations:

1) It's too salty, I'm not sure if it will taste as salty if poured on a hotdog, but it's salty.

2) There's no flavor.. The flavor is very flat, bland, everything is there, but it's not. No depth.

3) Consistency. Excellent consistency, really close to what I'm seeing on TV.

4) Color, Ben's is a bit "redder" than mine, but overall, really close.


So I'm going to try this again probably next week, but browning the meat first, and also using a real onion instead of dried powder.. I'll probably end up food processing the onion though. This thing burns easily though, even on the lowest heat, so I had to stir at least once every 5 minutes or so, otherwise I'd end up with a burnt bottom.

Will try attempt #3 next week.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

twoblink wrote:


Observations:

1) It's too salty, I'm not sure if it will taste as salty if poured on a hotdog, but it's salty.

2) There's no flavor.. The flavor is very flat, bland, everything is there, but it's not. No depth.

3) Consistency. Excellent consistency, really close to what I'm seeing on TV.

4) Color, Ben's is a bit "redder" than mine, but overall, really close.


So I'm going to try this again probably next week, but browning the meat first, and also using a real onion instead of dried powder.. I'll probably end up food processing the onion though. This thing burns easily though, even on the lowest heat, so I had to stir at least once every 5 minutes or so, otherwise I'd end up with a burnt bottom.

Will try attempt #3 next week.


Get rid of the dried onion & garlic. They're concentrated and can make things too salty very quickly. Cook in the oven, won't have to stir it as often. Add some bacon fat
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I think it's the dried ingredients.. also, not browning in the beginning.

Bacon fat? Bacon makes EVERYTHING better !!

Will make attempt #3 next week. Have a good weekend ppl.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

twoblink wrote:
Yes, I think it's the dried ingredients.. also, not browning in the beginning.

Bacon fat? Bacon makes EVERYTHING better !!

Will make attempt #3 next week. Have a good weekend ppl.


You can count on it. When you're browning, make sure you add the dry ingredients so they have a chance to let out their love to the ground meat. If you can, take a mortar & pestle and whack the powders/leaves first. You'd be surprised how well that releases more of what's already there.

Biggles
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twoblink



Joined: 17 Feb 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried the chili on hot dogs today that I made yesterday; it was still fairly lifeless, and now it's even saltier.

I also bought a coffee grinder just to grind up the spices a bit more. I have a mortar + pestle but it's tiring.. So will go with the grinder the next time.

I would like to get to the point where the recipe is what I deem "damn good" and then have others try it and together maybe perfect it.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 354
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

twoblink wrote:
I tried the chili on hot dogs today that I made yesterday; it was still fairly lifeless, and now it's even saltier.

I also bought a coffee grinder just to grind up the spices a bit more. I have a mortar + pestle but it's tiring.. So will go with the grinder the next time.

I would like to get to the point where the recipe is what I deem "damn good" and then have others try it and together maybe perfect it.


How long are you cooking it? You can dice up russet potatoes and simmer for 10 to 20 and remove. They will soak up extra salt. This is until you find out what's going on. I would jack the chile powder content, maybe double it. Remember, restaurants are probably simmering that stuff all day and probably start way early in the morning. This isn't something that will come together in 90 minutes, it's hours. Chile peppers work this way.

Biggles
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kgb1001001



Joined: 21 Dec 2005
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:53 pm    Post subject: I think you need to up the chili pepper content Reply with quote

As I look at your recipe and compare it to my own chili recipe, the thing that strikes me is that you're deriving most of your "chili" flavor from just the chili powder and the cumin. The problem is that there's a big range in chili powder flavor profiles. Honestly most of them are like sawdust. You have a couple of options in my opinion. First, you could make your own, possibly starting with Alton Brown's chili powder recipe or you could go online and order some Gebhardt's chili powder which is what the Texas chili-heads swear by. Or you could just buy up one of everything in all the mega-marts around your area and do a side-by-side comparison.

Personally, to up the flavor in my chili, my secret has always been adding a little bit of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce - it's readily available, and adds a nice smokiness and heat to the chili.

Kyle
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pizzaguy



Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try finishing (last 15 minutes of simmer) with a tablespoon (per lb of meat) of smoked paprika powder. Another way to give a bit more body to the flavor is a tablespoon of bakers cocoa powder when you add the initial ingredients.

Since your making hot dog chili, try adding 1/4 cup of white sugar as well.

To reduce the saltiness, use 2-4 cloves of fresh garlic crushed or buy the pre-minced garlic in the jar and use 1-2 teaspoons, 1/4 of a medium to large red onion. Saute them with a quarter cup of canola oil until almost black. Strain the oil from the pan and brown your meat in that oil. This will impart the flavor without the saltiness. You can also add the flavor of extremely hot peppers without as much "heat" doing the same thing.
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Guest






PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

try this virgin island version, add some curry powder, a couple of tablespoons of spanish half smoked paprika, and use grocery store grind hamburger instead of the listed meat. Use fresh chopped onion!! Run beans through a food procesor to make smooth chili. I ussually use kidney beans only.

2 lbs sweet italian sausage removed from casings
5 lbs ground sirloin
3 large onions chopped
2 medium green bell peppers seeded and chopped
2 medium sweet red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 fresh green roasted scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and minced,
4 garlic cloves minced
1/3 cup white chili powder
1 tabelspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 oz dried cilantro leaf
3 cans (28 oz) whole tomatoes with tomato puree, undrained
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cans (16oz) pink beans, drained
2 cans (16oz) black beans, drained
METHOD / DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup kettle, cook the ground round, sausage, onions, red and green peppers, chili peppers and garlic over medium-high heat, stirring often until meat is seared (but not browned), about 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat. Add the chile powder, salt, oregano, cumin, bay leaves and cilantro and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their puree, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Bring to a simmer. Reduced the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced, about 1-1/2 hrs. Combine in a small bowl the cornmeal and 1/2 cup of water. Stir the cornmeal mixture and the pink and black beans into the chili. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened, about 10 minutes.

RECIPE NOTES:

The chili can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. If desired scrape off and discard the solidified fat that rises to the surface. Reheat chili gently on top of stove before serving.

Recipe courtesy
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