Eat ’em Up: It’s Not Cold, Just a Little Chili Mark and Erik, Mark Crouser and Erik Pollom October 22, 2014 Eat 'em Up, Features Game Weeks on The Salute I didn’t have to think long when searching for inspiration for this week’s tailgate meal. It’s the time of year when every time you walk outside, there’s the ever-present scent of seasonal smoke hanging in the air. Somebody nearly always has a fireplace, firepit, grill or smoker fired up, often taking advantage of the beautiful weather to enjoy the outdoors. For me, that means it’s chili season. A big, robust, bowl of chili always hits the spot. But I don’t know anybody who is really going to enjoy a bowl of chili before an 11 a.m. kickoff. Instead, let’s start with breakfast and get to the chili for postgame. While it will be difficult to contain your “GAMEDAY!” excitement and slow your momentum toward The Bill for breakfast, trust me on this one and dig your waffle iron out so you can make Bacon-Jalapeno Waffle Grilled Cheese. A perfect pregame combination of crunchy, cheesy, salty, smoky and spicy, it should complement your favorite caffeinated beverage. Prepping it night before, I’m planning to crisp my bacon in the oven and probably sauté the jalapeños just to soften them up and add a little caramelization. After that, iron and crisp the tots, layer in the remaining ingredients and enjoy it on the way out the door. While the idea of chili was inspired by the season, the specific recipe is a nod to this week’s opponent. After graduating from K-State, my wife and I moved to Texas for about five years (and then happily moved back to Kansas City). What always impressed me about cooking in Texas, whether Tex-Mex, a steakhouse or elsewhere, was their use of spices. Not in a way that set your mouth on fire with spicy heat, but one that showcases the food and sets it apart. I also never bought into the idea that for chili to be authentic, it had to be limited to only beef and spices. Instead, it’s a tailgater’s palette for some awesome and distinctive flavors. That’s why this recipe for Porter Chili (makes four bowls as prepared) is an exceptional one, with its layers upon layers of spice and unique ingredients. Like the blogger here says, chili is a meal that can easily be customized to meet your tastes and preferences. For instance, as I couldn’t find the seasonal Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, I substituted one of my favorites, the Founders Porter –dark chocolate, espresso, and an enveloping roastiness will work well here, adding a depth of flavor and some sweetness. To further augment this recipe, I used two cans of chili beans, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, a can of stewed tomatoes (for the chunkiness I like in chili) and two chorizo sausages (the ones at the Hy-Vee meat counter are inexpensive great on the grill or in this recipe). This is one you can prep on Friday night, refrigerate overnight and then store in your cooler for a postgame celebration. Once back on the lot, fire up the coals and heat up the chili for you and the crew. If strapped for time, an easier option for the cornbread than the one listed is the simpler cornbread from a box. You can personalize it by adding to the batter 1/8 cup of sugar (sweet version, which I learned from co-workers in Texas), a small can of green chiles (spicy version) or a cup of fresh/frozen/canned corn (corny version) to the batter. To make it easy in the lot, I’m planning to prepare these in small muffin cups, making them bite size and useful in mopping up any chili remnants. As for the beer, it only makes sense to pair with the style used in the recipe. A good porter is one of my favorites – originally brewed for (and said to be named after) the transportation workers of Central London, they needed a big “meal” in their mug after a day of manual labor. Today, it’s a good year-round style, but especially this time of year, serving as a roasty post-game victory beer or a warmer for the cooler evenings. A few you might like, most of which are readily available, are Tallgrass Zombie Monkie, Anchor Porter, Summit’s Great Northern Porter and Deschutes Black Butte Porter (and all of their barrel-aged varieties). Taking it to Texas is one of my favorite games of the year. Now, I can’t wait to get on the lot with a tot waffle in hand, give Texas the whoopin’ they so richly deserve, and then still have this pot of chili and a variety of porters to enjoy. See you on the lot.