It’s bowl season! Here in Georgia, that’s cause for celebration for football fans of every stripe, but especially the Dawg faithful. And what’s a celebration without good food, right?
Whether you’re keeping your eye on the final stretch of the college season or holding out for the super-sized pro championship in a few weeks, remember to include another bowl— the kind filled with spicy chili — in your game day planning. It’s a menu must-have.
You can make fantastic chili on your natural gas grill.
Did you know you can make fantastic chili on your natural gas grill? In the age of slow- and pressure-cooking gadgets, we tend to forget that gas grills can do the same job — only better.
Be it chicken, steak, beef or vegetarian, you can adapt your favorite chili recipe for easy preparation on the grill. The end result will be a more flavorful offering you can savor in a bowl or atop a grilled hot dog.
So, step outside for a breath of fresh air and make your own super bowl of grilled chili with these tips.
Start fresh. Fresh ingredients always go best on a grill and chili lends itself to freshness. Substitute fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers for canned or frozen ones to give your chili an added boost.
Pick the right pot. You’ll need a heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven (or another large, grill friendly pot) for cooking chili on the grill.
Add smoke. Smoking the fresh vegetables and meat prior to making the chili will infuse it with an additional layer of flavor. The smoky flavor adds an element that chili made on the stovetop just can’t beat.
To add smoky flavor, use wood chips. Mesquite or hickory flavor is recommended for a beef or vegetable chili. For a Georgia-inspired flavor, use Fire & Flavor smoking chips made by a company based in Athens.
You’ll need about 2 cups of wood chips or chunks soaked in water to cover for 1 hour, then drained. Place all of the chips in a smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium before grilling veggies and meat.
If you’re new to using wood chips with a gas grill, watch this short video that explains how simple it is.
Grill ingredients first. Cut up fresh vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Brush them with a light coating of oil and grill over direct medium heat (350 to 400 F) with the lid closed. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the skins are lightly charred on all sides. This will infuse them with some of the smoke flavor. Note: You may wish to transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and purée before placing them in the chili pot.
On a separate grate, prepare meat. Steak or pork can be cut into bite-sized pieces and slid onto a skewer for easy prep. Form small patties of ground meat for browning. Close lid and allow it to brown while being infused with smoke flavoring. Take care not to overcook meat.
Be patient. Slow and easy wins the chili game, which is easy with a reliable supply of natural gas. After grilling the meat and vegetables, reduce the grill temperature to low, about 250 to 300 F. Combine grilled items with remaining ingredients in the Dutch oven. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 60 to 90 minutes.
Note: If your recipe uses beans, any sort of sugar or chocolate, add them in the last 15 minutes of simmering. You want them to warm but not be overcooked.
Your patience will be rewarded with a rich, smoky taste that comes from making your favorite chili on the grill.