TRIO: CRAFT CHILI
Whether it’s downing the local fireman’s peppery blend or whipping up the family’s revered recipe, chili satisfies. We get it—no chili comes close to mom’s Super Bowl stew. But these bold batches, taken straight from the menus of three Sarasota chefs, definitely spice up a weeknight 30-minute meal.
Libby’s Café and Bar
Taste Profile Perhaps the chili on your dining room table is on the traditional side, laced with kidney beans, ground beef and tomatoes. This isn’t the way it’s done at Libby’s. The All Natural Bison and Black Lentil chili is still con carne, but Chef Fran Casciato subs bison meat for typical beef, bringing on a “high protein/low fat ratio and a very mellow beef-like flavor.” Lentils stand in for the standard carb with the legume giving the chili a finer and lighter mouth-feel than the traditional chili. And it doesn’t get sauced from tomatoes either. “It’s flavored with what diners recognize as ‘southwest’ spices,” says Chef Casciato, referring to a dynamic mix of cumin, chili powder, garlic and cayenne. Flavor Patrol Topped with melted pepper jack cheese for a quick, creamy zing, the bison chili shares the plate with a batch of tortillas and a smoked chili aioli. As for the chef’s inspiration, the bison chili brings back a dish that’s just as substantial. “When I was a kid, the closest thing I had to chili was my mom’s Bolognaise and, like a lot of the cooking I do today, I can almost always find her memory in the finished product,” says Chef Casciato. “With the weather cooling off a little, the chili is a natural.”
Whole Foods Market
Taste Profile Maybe you’re looking for a hearty bite without the meat. Whole Foods Market has just the fix. What is Regional Prepared Foods Coordinator Chef Brian Collaro’s favorite component? Bulgur wheat. “Instead of using a typical meat substitute, like soy crumbles, bulgur wheat has a shockingly similar consistency and texture as ground beef, while still contributing that great flavor to the chili,” says the chef. It just goes to show that going veg doesn’t have to take away that meaty element. “You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it either.” Flavor Patrol A heaping bowl of vegetarian chili is a wholesome fix for one of those quasi-wintry Sunshine State days. “I was born and raised in Florida and, like many Floridians, I don’t do well with cold weather. My fondest childhood memory of eating chili comes from one of our few cold days. I had a big bowl of chili that warmed me to the core,” he says. That doesn’t mean that chili is one of those dishes reserved exclusively for the coldest of the cold. “You can eat chili all year round, especially this particular vegan chili,” he says. “You can mix it up even—add a little shredded cheddar cheese and some chopped onions, or eat it with a warm piece of delicious cornbread.”
Morton’s Gourmet Market
Taste Profile Any roadside diner can call its chili “world famous,” but Morton’s Gourmet Market’s is truly legendary in Sarasota. The Famous Chili confronts the classic chili prototype head-on. “It’s just a traditional chili con carne—the kind everyone makes for Super Bowl Sunday,” says Chef John Teitsch. “I would say it’s the chili mom makes, but my mom’s Mexican so it might not be the kind your mom makes.” A special blend of spices, comprised of cumin, red chili powder, paprika and garlic, goes into the Famous Chili’s seasoning synthesis. “It’s well-balanced and won’t smoke you out.” Flavor Patrol Cultivating an affinity for chili at a young age, Chef Teitsch knows good chili. “When I was a kid, every year on New Year’s Day my uncle would make these huge pots of chili. We would go downtown, have the best seats in the house on the roof and eat huge bowls of steamy chili and homemade tortillas.” When Teitsch joined the Morton’s team, he was gung-ho about changing the recipe, but when he tasted the chili there was nothing he wanted change. That tried-and-true recipe, untouched for at least a decade, is still open for interpretation when it comes to his own bowl. In addition to diced onions and cheese he likes throwing in cubes of avocado, and adding half a bottle of Cholula. “It’s good with your eggs in the morning and with a beer at night.”
BY ALLISON MILAM // PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATHRYN BRASS
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