With chili, it is never just one thing. When done right, everything that is added to the chili makes it better. This evening's chili (which of course started cooking around sunset yesterday) came together especially well. It might be my imagination, but I have to credit a secret ingredient -- one inspired by my Scottish heritage.
It all began with a calendar item we noticed last fall -- the second annual brewfest aboard the fantail of the USS Massachusetts in Battleship Cove, Fall River. We had a chance to learn some nautical history, honor veterans, and enjoy an extraordinary variety of beers in a unique setting, so we got tickets right away. (If there is to be a 3rd annual, it has not yet been announced -- fingers are crossed!)
Scottish Wee Heavy, along with some French oak chips that are like those I use when making red wine. It was not difficult to find bourbon in our kitchen. I soaked the chips in the bourbon, and then put them in the fermenter with the ale. I think it is going to be terrific when we open them in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, we had a little problem on bottling day -- not enough caps! We had already started to the process, and realized we would have the equivalent of a wine bottle's worth of beer that we would not be able to bottle. That is, it would not be proofed or sealed, and would just be flat beer -- albeit it a flat beer with strong, complex flavor.
So guess what was the first ingredient in the family crock pot -- a bit of oakey, bourbonish, wee heavy! We don't yet know how the beer will be, but the chili was magnificent -- sweet, tangy, and complex.
(Incidentally, a quick search of this blog for the word chili reveals that I have still not divulged the basic recipe, though I described the other key ingredient -- time -- in our silver-anniversary post. The rest of the story will be told ... eventually!