Living in the Kansas City area you are surrounded by all sorts of delicious BBQ. If you ask the people around here they may not agree on which bbq place serves the best in the city, but what they would agree on is Kansas City is the best bbq around. Don’t get me wrong, there are many areas throughout the country that make some great bbq, but Kansas City for me takes the top prize when it comes to BBQ, especially with their burnt ends!
Until moving to Kansas City 3 years ago, I had never heard of burnt ends. So what exactly are they? Ultimately, burnt ends were an adaptation, and an amazing one at that! Kansas City BBQ has been mainly characterized by their choice of meats, from beef, chicken, turkey, pork and sometimes they have even used fish. When beef barbecue became a more common practice, the pitmasters would set aside these tough, drier, odd-shaped end pieces of their briskets as they sliced them. This is what came to be known as “burnt ends” and initially they were served as appetizers, thrown into stews or even some customers would ask for “the scraps.” But these delightful little “scraps” are anything but tough or dry, they are delicious pieces of heaven, and if you haven’t had them you need to get some burnt ends in your life ASAP!
For this chili, I decided to go with more of a smokey chipotle flavor and with the smokiness of those burnt ends, I knew it would be a perfect match. At last years American Royal here in Kansas City, I had my first experience with burnt end chili and since then I’ve been obsessed! Not that you couldn’t use other kinds of meats for your chili, it’s just you won’t want to. 😉
Burnt ends are a hot commodity around here and are not always readily available, so I made sure to call over to one of my favorite spots, Joe’s Kansas City BBQ to reserve them. (Joe’s is a must if you ever come and visit Kansas City, Anthony Bourdain named it on his list of restaurants to eat at before you die)
Once I picked up my order, it was time to head back home and do a little tasting of bourbon/whiskey to see what would work best with that smokey spice of the chipotle, cumin & chili powder. When working on a new recipe I like to incorporate all the spices I’m using together and taste them along side my bourbon. It’s really amazing to smell and taste the difference that each bourbon has on the spices, even those with similar flavor characteristics. Initially I thought I would choose a rye to go with these big bold flavors, but I found that a rye punched up the flavors too much or just didn’t compliment it the way I had wanted it to. With this kind of a flavor profile you want to compliment & enhance the flavors, I would almost even say to look to soothe the palate. I found what I was looking for with Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
If you haven’t tried or heard of Stranahan’s, it is a straight whiskey from Colorado, that has been aged in new charred oak barrels, like bourbon, but the final whiskey product is a blend of 2, 3 and 5 year-old whiskeys. It is distilled from a 100% malt barley, using four barleys sourced from the Colorado area. So it’s not a bourbon, but yet not quite a scotch, even though it is made with malted barley, but ultimately a perfect combo of the two.
Now you know what to do, go get some burnt ends & Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
You’ll find that this chili recipe is the perfect combo of a smokey, sweet & spicy goodness!
Enjoy & Remember to #EatResponsibly
- 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 lb. Ground Chuck
- 1 lb. Burnt Ends
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, with or without seeds, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin (toasted)
- 1 Tbsp. Oregano
- 1-2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
- 3/4 cup Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey
- 1 - 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 can of black beans (or a combination of your favourite beans)
- 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoon chipotle peppers chopped with adobo sauce
- Optional garnishes: grated white cheddar, shredded cheddar, green onions, sour cream, jalapeño honey cornbread
- In a large pot over medium-high heat add the ground chuck, cook until brown & done. Drain the cooked meat and set aside. In the same pot add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, then add the onion and saute until soft and brown, about 6 minutes. Add the cubed butternut squash, stir and cook until tender but still firm, about 8-10 mins. Add in the garlic,jalapeño & red pepper, stir and cook for an additional 2-3 mins. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and Kosher salt and let it cook for 1 minute more.
- Carefully add in 3/4 cup bourbon/whiskey, while scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot and bring to a soft boil, cooking for about 5 mins. Drop the heat to medium-low, add in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, kidney beans, black beans, chopped chipotle peppers, burnt ends and 2 cups of water and stir well. Cover the pot and let the chili simmer for 1 hour or more. (the longer you let set the more the flavors will come together) Season to taste with salt & pepper.
- Serve chili with the shredded cheddar, green onions, and of course the honey jalapeño corn bread
When I am cooking with bourbon and I am using spices that are on the smokey side I toast my cumin in a small pan on the stove top. What this does is add a bit of a nutty flavor to the cumin, allowing it pair well with bourbon. So I have a nice little jar set aside for my "toasted cumin" for those occasions when I may need it.