Tom PapoutsisTom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis is back in the kitchen, MacLean, Virginia, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Fire Station 1. We are making three-alarm, thats what we said in the beginning one of the guys wants three-alarm, we are going three-alarm. A three-alarm chili today.
We already have everything cooking in here, the meats in, the peppers, the onions, a lot of the spices in, we are getting ready to put the finishing touches on it. One of the big things that we have to do is we have to put in our jalapeno and habaneros. This is what's going to make it three-alarm right here. So, we are going to go ahead and we are going to dump this in, put that all in there, make sure we get every bit of it, because I want those guys to get every bit of this heat, there we go. We are going to put that in, give that a stir, thats all our heat, there it goes. We are going to give that a little bit of a help.
Now, the flavor of the jalapeno and the habanero is different than the hot sauce. I am going to go ahead and put some Tabasco in, I like to use Tabasco, thats the flavor that I prefer. We are going to put about probably about three tablespoons of Tabasco in here, thats pretty good right there. This is going to be a fairly hot chili, but these guys can take it.
Remember, with chili you are going to make it to what you want. If you dont want a lot of heat, back off one of peppers, back off one of hot sauce. If you have to use half, use half a pepper, dont use three peppers, but kind of gage it to your taste. You know how you like your pepper; you know how your family like your chili, you know how they like it, you like it, make it accordingly.
Next, we are going to put in some tomato paste. Ive got two little cans, two six ounce cans of tomato paste that I am going to add to this, this is going to kind of beef up to tomato flavor a little bit. It actually works pretty good, gives it that little bit of extra flavor that you dont get from just the tomatoes. So, were going to go ahead and add this in, if I can get it all out of the can, it will be alright, there we go. Youve got to stir, get it off the spoon, very nice.
Now, this is one of our alternate ingredients. Typically, we wont do this in a firehouse, but today, we are going to do this. This is good chili; we are going to put something good in it. Guinness Draught, Guinness is going to give it a very unique flavor and we are going to go ahead and just dump it in. Ive got two cans that we are going to put in, this is what kind of gives it a little bit extra something, makes it a little bit better than normal.
Like I said, we typically wont do this in a firehouse, but because we are making this for you, and you can do this at home, we are going to go ahead and put this in here, and give this a little bit extra body, a little bit extra flavor for these guys today, here we go, that stuff man it comes; it wants to come out of that can. So, we are going to go ahead and put the second one in and we are good to go. So, this is where we are at right now, I want to go ahead and give you a look, see, we are to the point where these things are starting, see weve got the fluid in there. Typically, you can add a couple of water, if you are not going to use something like Guinness or any other liquid, you can add some water, but I have got enough liquid in here now that this is starting to be real nice and fluid, thats going to cook down real nice and there we go.
At this point, the other thing we are going to add, this is kind of like at the end we are reporting in all of our alternate ingredients. This is 65% extra dark chocolate, chocolate adds a wonderful, wonderful flavor to chili for whatever reason I dont know, but it is like fantastic. This is about a three-and-a-half ounce bar; we are going to use half of the bar, because weve got so much. Its about four squares there, were just going to drop those in, just like that, there they go, they disappeared. The chocolate for whatever reason gives a wonderful, wonderful flavor to chili. So, remember that, thats a key ingredient, if you want to make good chili, use a good dark chocolate and thats going to make it super chili.
I think we are about ready to wrap it up, there is only one other thing to add and this is what we talked at the beginning about beans versus no beans.
At this point I am going to go ahead and add the beans; I want to cut the heat back a little bit, because we are going to start simmering. So, weve got our red kidney beans, we are going to go ahead and dump those in. Remember that was two cans; I think almost four pounds of beans. So, weve got nine pounds of meat and four pounds of beans and everything else thats going in there. Now you can see there is our beans going in incorporated. Now, its starting to look like chili. We are going to let that cook for a little bit, let those flavors melt, and then we are going to come back and we are going to talk about the cook time next, and also we are going to go over review as to what weve done today.