A Super Bowl of Chili

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By Deirdre Bourdet

It's that time of year to gather up your friends, stock the beer (or wine) fridge, turn on the TV, and sit around eating manly foods like salty meats, spicy meats, fatty meats, and fried stuff.  Yes indeed, the Super Bowl is upon us! The need for satisfyingly unhealthy ways to feed the ravening crowds is mounting.  But what to do if yucky weather makes barbecuing meat out of the question?  Opt for the indoor sports food of choice, one that combines fatty, salty, meaty, rich, and crunchy in endless permutations, all in a single bowl... chili con carne.
Chili is the ultimate cold weather food because it's hearty, spicy, and--whether vegetarian or not--generally, pretty darn filling. It's also the perfect game food because it stays hot for hours, requires only one pot to make, and has a fabulous affinity for the other snacks that typically find their way onto Super Bowl coffeetables: chips, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  And unlike the other foods that go well with these condiments (nachos and tacos, I mean you), chili is neatly contained in individual bowls, and thus dramatically reduces the risk of carnage on your living room rug.

But whether you decide to make your own chili, or just empty a few cans of Hormel into the stockpot for that semi-homemade magic, I think the end result is almost always improved by a generous pour of chipotle hot sauce to finish it off.  Smoky, spicy, savory, rich, and very faintly sweet, this stuff is utterly irresistible.  At my house, it is referred to as "crack-potle" by those in the know.  It fills the hole in your tastebuds' soul.  It makes every bowl of chili a revelation.

Although I tend to think chipotle is especially amazing with black beans, it really does the trick with any kind of chili bean, and any kind of meat... even seafood.  The savory, smoky aspects of the chipotle complement shrimp or crab's sweet freshness beautifully, and the potent heat somehow manages to burn in a way that doesn't prevent you from tasting the delicacy of the other ingredients.  For me, black beans, shrimp and chipotle is a match made in heaven.

Buffalo is my favorite brand of chipotle sauce and easily found in most grocery stores with a Mexican food section.  Check it out and let me know what you wound up eating it on when all the guests have left.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Red - Spicy Syrah or Zinfandel to stand up to the smoky heat of the chipotle.
White - Vino Verde or similarly high-acid quaffer to refresh the palate or even a cava for its bright effervescence.

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