The commandos of the International Council on Augmented Phenomena are superhuman. Stronger, faster, smarter, they can dodge bullets and in some cases even throw cars. Unfortunately for them, the bonks they hunt are even bigger; hopped up on the drug Jade, they’ve augmented themselves beyond sanity—some stand twelve feet tall and have enhanced parts of their formidable skeletons with protruding steel blades, spikes, or bolted-on armor plates.
When tangling with bonks, ICAP agents take a hell of a beating. Lost limbs, pulped organs, and crushed bones are commonplace. Fortunately, second-generation regenerates can repair that damage, in minutes or days rather than weeks or months, and without surgery. But all that regeneration takes an enormous amount of energy, and throughout the process the injured Augs consume a proportionally enormous amount of calories.
This recipe from the ICAP corporate kitchen has five types of meat and two kinds of beans, and is served with sour cream and cheddar cheese, so it’s loaded with both calories and flavor—everything a hungry Aug is looking for. A full batch will feed twenty or so normals, or three regenerating Augs.
1 lb bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground pork
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
3 stalks celery with greens, diced
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 medium or two large Spanish onions, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (24-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (24-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
5 tablespoons chili powder (homemade, see below)
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (homemade, see below)
3 heaping tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons paprika
A dash or two of liquid smoke (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
The Chef’s Extra-Special Something Something
2 cups good, dark beer (ICAP uses Custom Brewcrafters’ Night Owl Porter)
2 oz. good dark chocolate
NOTE: Amounts are approximate. It’s hard to buy meat in exact pound weights, so don’t worry about it. This is chili, and a massive amount of it—so close enough is close enough.
Shredded cheddar cheese
Green Salsas (See below)
Corn Bread (Not a garnish, but essential.)
Spice grinder (a coffee grinder you only use for spices, not coffee)
Food processor (optional)
- Chop the celery and peppers and dice the bacon. Peel but do not chop the garlic and onions. (Garlic and onions release sulfur compounds the longer they’re exposed to air, so while you can chop them beforehand, we don’t recommend it.)
- In a large stock pot (this will mostly fill a 16-quart pot), cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- While the bacon is cooking,
- Make the chili powder. (see below)
- Toast and grind the cumin. (see below)
- Chop the garlic and onions.
- Once the bacon is browned, add the celery, garlic, onions, peppers, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, herbs, and paprika, and season with a generous pinch of salt and twenty grinds of black pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender and seasonings are aromatic, about ten minutes.
- Add the beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Once beef is beginning to brown, add the pork and the Italian sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon like the beef, and brown until no longer pink.
- Stir in the beer, beans, liquid smoke, and chocolate.
- Toss together, then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Stir.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer for at least 90 minutes. Hours and hours is great. All day is fine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Serve directly from the pot with the garnishes and a complimentary angioplasty. (If you’re taking it to a party that doesn’t have a stovetop you can monopolize, you’ll need two crock pots. Make sure to keep it piping hot the whole time for proper food safety.)
Some people do not consider anything with beans or non-beef meat in it to be a true chili. We in the ICAP kitchens don’t really care what those people think, because this stuff is awesome.
On Chili Powder:
You can use store-bought chili powder, but it tastes better (and you have more control over the heat) if you make your own. The ICAP kitchens pride themselves on our homemade chili powder, and this is how we make it:
- Buy dried chilies, tear them into pieces and “toast” them (seeds and all) in a dry pan on medium-high heat, tossing constantly, until they start to smell good, but do not burn them. If they burn, throw them away and start over.
- Transfer to a food processor and chop (or chop by hand), then put them in a spice (coffee) grinder and grind into a fine powder.
Because of the diverse tastes of our agents, our default chili powder is relatively mild—largely ancho (dried poblano, which tastes raisiny and has very little heat), Anaheim (aka New Mexico, also mild) and pasilla (dried chilaca, like an ancho but not as sweet). If you want it medium, mix in some cascabel, cayenne, chile de arbol, and/or chipotle. For hot chili powder, go with cayenne, chipotle, thai reds, and the like. For serious heat, consider dried naga jolokia (ghost pepper) or Carolina Reaper.
Two peppers to avoid in this chili are the lemon drop and the habanero—both have a delightful, fruity flavor and are wonderful peppers (in fact, the habanero is my personal favorite pepper), but they’re the wrong taste for this application.
We grind in small batches on an as-needed basis, and adjust heat level by the tastes of who we’re serving to. Yes, it’s totally worth the effort, and yes, you should do it, too.
If you use all mild chilies, you might want to add an extra tablespoon or two to the chili, and finally, if you do use store-bought chili powder you won’t have to add as much salt at the end, as commercial chili powder typically has a lot of salt in it already.
Cumin is the essential chili spice. Earthy and pungent, when people want chili, they want some variation of meat with, at the very least, cumin in it.
Pre-ground cumin is a pale shadow of what cumin could and should be. The proper way to use ground cumin in any dish that calls for it is to treat it just like making your own chili powder:
- Toast the whole cumin seeds in a dry pan until they smell nutty and just start to ‘pop’ (but are not burned).
- Transfer to your spice grinder, then grind into a fine powder.
Any time you use cumin for anything, do it this way. The taste is incomparable to pre-ground cumin. While making your own chili powder is sort of optional, this isn’t.
On a side note, most spices are better if bought whole, then toasted and ground just before use. Start doing this, and you’ll never go back to pre-ground spices again.
If you can’t get Night Owl Porter, Guinness works, too. Any good, dark, not-too-hoppy stout or porter should work fine. Do not use ales or highly-hopped beer, as the bitter note will clash with the cumin and chiles in ways that are not good.
The chocolate is essential to the overall balance of flavors, but don’t overdo it—you don’t want the chili to taste chocolaty. Use a nice dark chocolate, 85% cacao Lindt is my favorite for this, but Dove or whatever is probably fine. Avoid Hershey’s Special Dark, as it’s too much sweet and doesn’t have enough cocoa.
The Green Salsas:
We like to prepare two green salsas, one cool and soothing, the other mouth-murder hot.
Extra Hot Green Salsa is: a small diced onion, two diced jalapenos, two diced ghost peppers, one diced celery stalk, a tablespoon of carrot finely grated on a microplaner, and a small splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s melt-your-mouth fiery with a nice hint of onion.
Cool Green Salsa is: a small diced onion, one diced celery stalk, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’ll give that onion hit while chilling out the heat just a little.
On Corn Bread:
Any basic “fancy” or “city” corn bread recipe is fine. If you want to make it extra-special, mix diced jalapenos (or chipotles…or ghost peppers!) into the batter just before baking, then drizzle with honey (we use the ghost pepper Hot Honey from www.frogspointhoney.com) as soon as it comes out of the oven.
‘JADE SKY is a an ass-kicking action-fantasy that takes no prisoners. Lightning fast, brutal and way too much fun. Highly recommended!” -Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestselling author of CODE ZERO and FALL OF NIGHT
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Patrick Freivald is a four-time Bram Stoker Award nominee, a teacher (physics, robotics, American Sign Language), beekeeper, and author, and coach of an award-winning competition robotics team for high school students.
He lives in Western New York with his loving wife, birds, dogs, cats, and several million stinging insects.
You can find him at http://patrick.freivald.com