How to Make Firehouse Chili

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 42,801
    Firehouse chef Tom Papoutsis shows how to prepare classic firehouse chili.

    Tom Papoutsis

    Tom 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… 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: Hi! I am Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Welcome to the Fire Station.

    We are here today in McLean, Virginia at Fire Station 1 in Fairfax County, and we are going to be making Three-Alarm Firehouse Chili. So, come on, lets go inside and lets start cooking.

    Today, we are going to make chili for about 12 to 14 hungry firefighters. Firefighters have quite a voracious apatite. So, typically when I figure out how much I am going to use, the main ingredient, which today is going to be the meat. We typically figure about half-a-pound per person. So, whenever, thats uncooked meat. So, today were making a little bit extra, the guys will have a big pot and they will be able to use it a couple of days from now, they will be still eating the chili.

    Today, we have our ground beef; we are using about nine pounds of ground beef. We are going to be using three large sweet onions, and we also have three large green bell peppers. As far as the tomatoes are concerned, I use a combination typically, but we are going to use probably three-four pounds of diced tomatoes and we have two cans, two large cans basically two pounds can, so about four pounds of our kidney beans. Also, we are going to use a little bit of tomato paste, its going to add a little bit extra tomato flavor to the tomatoes that we are already going to use.

    Now, lets talk a little bit about our spices. Spices are what make our chili. We are going to use typical salt and pepper, a good table grind pepper, and you are probably saying, why are we using black pepper whenever we are going to use jalapenos or whatever, hot pepper we are going to use.

    The black pepper actually gives a different flavor, a different type of heat to it. We are also going to be using dark chili powder and some paprika. These are what actually give the chili the flavor and the color of the chili, the red color.

    One of the key components is cumin; ground cumin is one of the most key components to our chili because when you taste chili and it doesnt have cumin in it, youll know it, but if you smell this, I wish we could actually open it and have you smell it, because it actually you would look at it, you would smell it and say, this is it, this is the smell of chili.

    One of the other things is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate adds a very nice flavor to it as well. We have our garlic. Now, hot peppers I have a cherry pepper. This is a habanero, which is very hot and these are jalapenos. Depending on how much each you want is depended on which pepper you want to use. I also like to use a hot sauce, so we add a couple of different flavors of hot. You can use the hot sauce of your choice. Today, we are going to be using a regular Tabasco sauce.

    A couple of the alternate ingredients that you can put in your chili is number one, you can use pepperoni, some people use pepperoni, some people like to use some sausages. Today, we are probably going to be using some Guinness draught. Guinness draught actually adds a great flavor, as well as sometimes you may want to think about maybe putting a little bit of bourbon or maybe your favorite sherry or wine or something into it, but personalize your chili. Make it your chili, and in the end you are going to like it.