In The Chili Cookbook, Robb Walsh explores various meat-bases, spices and flavors while still maintaining true to this iconic American dish.
Here’s a recipe I came up with while fantasizing about the Aztec lobster chili that Sahagún sampled in the 1520s. Granted, the Aztecs weren’t eating Maine lobsters and their maize didn’t look much like our corn on the cob, but you get the picture. Don’t be too surprised if this ancient/modern chili is the tastiest you have ever eaten.
- To cook the lobsters and corn, bring 12 cups of water to a boil over high heat in a soup pot large enough to fit the lobsters and corn (or use two pots). Put the lobsters and corn in the boiling water. Boil the lobsters until bright red, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the lobsters and set aside to cool. Continue cooking the corn until tender, about 5 minutes more. Remove the corn and set aside to cool. Reserve the liquid.
- When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, break off the claws, crack the claw shell and each joint with a nutcracker, and set aside. Remove the meat from the tail and chop into bite-size pieces and set aside. Remove the shell from the body and discard, making sure to reserve any greenish tomalley or red roe.
- To make the stock, chop the body sections (where the legs connect to the body) in four parts (setting aside any easily removed lobster meat) and put the body pieces in the pot with the reserved liquid, along with any tomalley or roe. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, mashing with a potato masher frequently to extract as much lobster essence as possible. Add water as needed to maintain the level. Strain the liquid, you should have at least 10 cups.
- To make the chili, combine 10 cups lobster stock, roasted green chiles, serrano, squash, onion, and oregano. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, mashing with the potato masher until the squash and chiles begin to dissolve and the liquid reduces by a quarter. Do not puree. Add the masa harina mixture and stir to thicken. Add more masa dissolved in hot water, if needed, until the chili reaches the desired consistency. Salt to taste.
- To serve, break each ear of corn into three pieces and add to the pot along with the lobster meat and claws to reheat for a minute or two. Then divide the chili among four large soup bowls, making sure the lobster meat is distributed evenly. Add three corn pieces and two cracked lobster claws to each bowl. Serve with hot corn tortillas and pass around the pepper sauce.
Reprinted with permission from The Chili Cookbook: A History of the One-Pot Classic, with Cook-Off Worthy Recipes from Three-Bean to Four-Alarm and Con Carne to Vegetarian by Robb Walsh, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.