I like holidays. They are the perfect excuse to cook a good meal, not that I need any excuse. They are even better excuse to cook a themed or regional meal. With Tuesday being Cinco De Mayo, I decided to cook up another batch of my Whiskey Spiked Slow Cooked Beef Chili, but instead of Whiskey, use Tequila instead. After all, we were going to have margarita's as well, so there would be tequila on hand. I have to say, this beef "chili" is probably one of my more favorite original recipes. The flavors that are developed over 5-6 hours of cooking are intense, balanced and totally kicked up. I used a bit more heat this time (perhaps a 1/2 tsp more of cayenne), but the heat was still diffuse and not overpowering.
I started the whole pot going about 1:30 in the afternoon, added in the tequila, 1/2 of the mushrooms and the squash and zucchini at 5:30 right before my sister and I headed out for an 11 mile run in the Marin Headlands. Before we left, I also put two baked potatoes into the oven at 350, so that by the time we came back everything except the guacamole would be ready to go. We rolled in the door to the glorious rich smell of the chili and I popped straight into the kitchen and whipped up some of my guacamole while my sister mixed up some margaritas (Tommy's margarita mix- made with agave & lime juice, thats it & Don Julio Blanco Tequila)- the perfect way to rehydrate after a run! I served up the chili over the incredibly tender potatoes and toppped with a bit of fresh cilantro. On the side, I offered guacamole, pico de gallo and a chipotle mango salsa. The meal was well rounded, flavorful, complex and pretty darn healthy. If it hadn't been a holiday we were celebrating, it sure would have felt like a holiday eating a meal like that.
The best part about this chili is that it keeps really well and is versatile. The next day my sister took it to school for lunch and wrapped it up in a nice warm rice tortilla (keeping it gluten free baby!) and topped with a mixture of sour cream and salsa. Delicious! I am so excited to have gotten into the kitchen 2 times this week after such a inconsistent (due to traveling) start to the spring. I am back in the kitchen tonight, so I am excited to see what I will come up with!