Sunday, February 21, 2021

Finnish Chili

You never associate chili with the Nordic countries, do you?

I give you that with the influx of tourists, especially Americans, you can find chili but it’s not a common menu item.

Harri Merimaa Puukko Set

I love chili and after begging for a while I was informed, if I cut up the chuck roast, my wife would make chili.  As a bonus I could cut the meat in any size I wanted.  I have almost religious view about chili meat size and shape.

I grabbed my puukko and went to town.  That’s the Nordic connection.

Knife meet meat
I have a set of Harri Merimaa puukko knives.  The set has the curious name of Double Big Hunting (Knives).  Harri is from Bothnia, a providence of western Finland and is a third generation knife maker.  I think they are very nice knives and I'm very happy to have them.  

Of the two available I selected the larger 154 mm (6 inches) long blade.  Both knives are handled with dyed curly birch capped with elm wood.  The blades are high carbon steel.  I first washed the protective oil off the steel with hot water and soap followed by plenty of hot water rinses.  Someday I tell you about a camping trip that had a little detergent left on a fork.  I really need to get food grade protective oil.

"A knifeless man is a lifeless man.”  Nordic proverb.

First steps to chili

The Nordic countries have a rich knife history.  In that extreme climate environment, the inability to use a knife to make a bowl, a cup, build fire and prepare food once meant you would die.  Today’s social institutions have changed some of that, but move to the edges, to the small villages and hunting camps and you’ll find that rule still enforced.

You can still find that in America, in hunting camps, back in the woods and mountains where your survival depends on you and the tools you have on you.  A good fixed blade is one of the best and simplest tools the prepared mind could ask for.

Just as an aside, the puukko is the only civilian item which can be openly worn as a part of a soldier's combat gear without breaching the regulations of the Finnish Defense Forces.  This is because puukkos are traditionally considered to be very personal items and the military does not supply conscripts with them.  Most bring their own with them. 


The thin saber grind blade quickly reduced the semi-frozen meat to various sizes and shapes according to my internal chili recipe.  Since I prefer very lean meat in chili, I carved out as much of the fat as possible.  Despite the blade size and being an inch wide the puukko efficiently dissected and removed the fat from the meat.

It didn’t take too long. The handle fit my hand well.  The gloves were just to protect the meat from a number of cuts and scrapes I have recently acquired.  I didn’t develop any hot spots and I just loved the way the blade parted the meat.  If Moses would have been standing there with me, he would have wondered by God hadn’t give him a puukko at the Red Sea.

Chuck roast cured, shaved, sliced ready for the pot

I’d give a puukko a chance if I were you.  It’s not the glitz or the super steel everyone seems to be nuts about.  It’s a design shaped by hundreds of years living in harsh environments.  Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

Lunch is served.

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