Chili is a strange food: one you have to freeze overnight, then thaw in the fridge for a day, before it really gets good. Last night was the annual Chili Cook-Off at Sip Coffee here in Chicago, and the Smart Aleck Staffand I created this awesome number: Grand Avenue Pizza Chili with Pizza Crust Oyster Crackers. Like Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History, it didn’t win awards, but was critically acclaimed and thought by many to be a strong contender. Here’s how you make it:
GRAND AVENUE PIZZA CHILI
– 3 cans of diced tomatoes
– 1 can of kidney beans
– 2.5 pounds of hot sausage
– 1/4 pound thinly-sliced pepponi (if you can get the above an Italian deli, do so).
– 1 tablespoon Deep Dish Pizza Seasoning from The Spice House. Substitute some red pepper and paprika and garlic if you don’t have any of that.
– 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
Empty tomatoes and beans into a crock pot. Removes sausage from casing and brown, breaking into small chunks in the process. Add to crock pot, along with seasonings. Leave it there all day, then remove to plastic containers to freeze overnight. Thaw in fridge for a day, then return to crock pot. Cut pepperoni into small bits and stir in. Add more seasonings if desired.
PIZZA CRUST OYSTER CRACKERS:
Mix up a handful of flour with a cup of water, a package of yeast, a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of oregano. Mix, adding more flour until the whole wad of dough can be kneaded without sticking. Roll onto cookie sheet or stone and bake for about 10 minutes at 400. Remove when it’s fully baked (but not too crisp) and cut into oyster cracker-sized bits. Keep in a separate bowl.
Spoon chili into bowl, top with mozzarella cheese and the pizza crust crackers. We may not have won the award, but it was the first entry to run out!
Above: “Dibs” in my neighborhood – this is how we reserve parking spots we’ve shoveled out after blizzards. The city doesn’t officially endorse it, but they don’t stop it, either (until the snow melts). Note awesome skyline view in back.