An amazing man. This article brought tears to my eyes.
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Get ready for a big spicy spoonful of chili! In the winter, give me chili with cornbread and cabernet; in the summer I’ll have chili with tortillas and tequila (or cold beer). What a flavorful, succulent meal it is! You’ll find chili everywhere, north, south, east and west; in cookbooks, food magazines and websites (like this one), with many of those authors claiming to divulge “the authentic” recipe. Particularly in the Southern US, chili recipes provoke discussions almost as heated as the peppers they contain. But, I’m ready to jump into the fire, by sharing with you my husband’s favorite recipe. It’s not the hottest or the spiciest chili you’ll find, but it’s meaty, delicious and the best he’s ever encountered. He made it for me for the first time when we started dating and we’ve cooked it together many, many times since then.
DOWN HOME DIG-IN CHILI
(from Bon Appetit, 1988)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 lbs stewing beef, chopped
2 lbs pork shoulder (Boston butt), chopped
4 cans (14 1/2 ounce) stewed tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle pale ale (12 ounce)
7 Tbs chili powder
4 jalapeno chilies, seeded
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
Hot pepper sauce (Tabasco type), to taste
Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables using slotted spoon and set aside.
Increase heat to high. Add beef and pork; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Return vegetables to pot. Add tomatoes, ale, chili powder chilies, cayenne and cumin. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer 2 hours, adding reserved tomato liquid if chili appears dry. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Uncover and simmer until thickened and meat is tender, 2 more hours.
Season chili with hot pepper sauce. Serve with green onions, cheddar cheese, avocado and sour cream.
Makes at least 8 servings.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This favorite version of ours might very well be “middle-of-the-road” in the debate about what should (or should not) be in a pot of chili. It doesn’t include beans, pleasing many, but it uses tomatoes, upsetting other purists.
We usually make it with beef and pork, and we recently tried a mixture of lamb and pork. We prefer this version, exactly as published 22 years ago (!!!) in Bon Appetit, by far. Some markets sell ground beef for chili, but it’s better to buy a large cut of beef chuck, some pork shoulder and cut them by hand into 3/4 inch cubes. The final texture is well worth the extra work.
Chili is ideal for entertaining, as it gets better when it sits in the fridge for a day. Sometimes we make a full batch, enjoy “chili for two,” and save leftovers in the freezer for an encore another time.
This dish deserves recognition as a “Perfect Saturday Night Dinner” !
ONE YEAR AGO… CINNAMON ROLLS
Even though I know that the word “pesto” refers to pounding ingredients into a paste (preferably using a mortar and pestle), I tend to associate it with basil – the classic pesto Genovese. So, this recipe using cilantro as the main herb perked my interest. I found it in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, and it seemed perfect for this time of the year, in which the temperature approaches 100 F every day, with no rain in the horizon. Not that there’s anything wrong with it… 😉
LINGUINE WITH CILANTRO-LIME PESTO & SHRIMP
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound linguine
1 + 1/2 bunches fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup green onion, cut in large pieces
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs lime juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbs tequila
cotija cheese to taste, grated (or crumbled feta)
To make the cilantro pesto:
Place the cilantro leaves in the bowl of a food processor and process it for a few seconds. Add the green onion, jalapeno pepper, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and process for 30 seconds. With the machine on, pour the olive oil until a thick paste forms – you may need a little more or a little less olive oil. (I usually opt for a lot less than recipes call for).
Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet, add the shrimp and cook until it just starts to get opaque. Remove from heat, add the tequila, bring back to the stove and cook for about 30 seconds, until the tequila achieves a syrupy consistency. Add the pesto to it, cook a few seconds to warm it up. Add the cooked pasta and mix everything together until shrimp, sauce and pasta are well blended. Grate some cotija cheese on top and serve.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Cilantro haters will have to forgive me, but this pesto rocks! At first I thought this recipe could end as a major gastronomic disaster, due to cilantro overload, but its taste mellowed down in the final sauce. I had never tried cotija cheese, and did not particularly cared for its texture, but grated over the pasta it worked very well. Many people dislike adding cheese to seafood dishes, but I don’t have a problem with it: it definitely embellished this pasta.
One year ago: WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU CHARD…
My second recipe for the month of June in the Mellow Bakers Challenge is Hamelman’s pizza dough. I was anxious to try this one, to compare it with my favorite recipe, that you can find here. Hamelman’s dough uses a biga – a pre-ferment of flour, water, and yeast – that is incorporated in the final dough, together with a small amount of additional yeast. Apart from that, the recipes are quite similar.
Last week we had a small pizza party at home, and Hamelman’s method was put to the test. It passed with flying colors, or… should I say… ballooning colors!
In the Summer, we avoid turning the oven on, so we use our grill as an improvised oven, placing unglazed tiles over its grids, and cooking the pizza on them. This is not a grilled pizza, simply a regular pizza baked inside the grill. Once you get the temperature right, it works like a charm, each pizza will be ready in about 7 minutes. My husband was the one who had the idea for this “oven-grill-method”, yet another evidence that I won the jackpot when I married him.
So, what’s the verdict? This dough deserves to share the first prize with my default recipe – excellent texture and flavor. The only thing that prevents me from placing it ahead of Fine Cooking, is the 2 hour rise with a folding cycle after 1 hour. That makes it slightly more complicated to have pizza on a weeknight. But, it is a minor detail, and I will definitely be making this recipe again and again during the weekend.
I remind everyone that we are not supposed to share the recipes for our Mellow Bakers Challenge, so if you are interested, consider buying Hamelman’s book “Bread”, where all these recipes will be waiting for you… 😉
That evening, we made 8 pizzas, this one was particularly tasty: sauteed cremini mushrooms, roasted yellow bell peppers, and smoked mozzarella. Pizza parties are a lot of fun!
Many Mellow Bakers have already enjoyed their pizzas, if you want to see their report, jump here.
One year ago: From Backyard to Kitchen….
Every Tuesday at 7:30 pm I meet with my wonderful Chinese tutor. So, dinner and the dishes must finish in time to drive to her home. Ideally, I plan the meal the preceding weekend, but sometimes the ideal and the real diverge. This past week I was eating a rushed lunch in the office when panic hit: what am I going to cook tonight? Without cookbooks handy, the internet came to the rescue. I had some ground turkey in the fridge, so I “googled” it and found a recipe in The Perfect Pantry. If you don’t know this blog, make sure to stop by, it’s a life-saver for designing meals with ingredients that are often in your cupboard.
(adapted from The Perfect Pantry)
1+ 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (full fat)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (do not omit this step!), and reserve.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, working the mixture well with your hands until thoroughly combined. Wet your hands with cold water and form the mixture into balls, either as bite size (for appetizers), or larger (for a main dish). Place them on the prepared sheet and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. When done, they’ll be a nice golden brown on the surface. You can carefully move them around after they’ve been baking for 10 minutes or so. Cut through one of them to judge if they are fully cooked, and serve.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: In her post, Lydia mentions that she prefers roast chicken to roast turkey. However, she’d rather use ground turkey than ground chicken. I’d never considered it in those terms, but… I’m on the same team!
The addition of yoghurt is a great twist on this simple recipe, giving it moisture and a tangy flavor. A quick saute’ of shredded zucchini with a salad and a slice of bread was all we needed for a delicious Tuesday dinner, even if it was a little rushed.
Note added after initial publication: It is a good idea to spray the parchment paper with some olive oil, as the meatballs can stick to the paper and be hard to move around (see comment by E Brandler below).
Note to self: spinach might be excellent mixed in with the ground meat.
One year ago…. Focaccia
Auvergne rye, also known as “baguette aux lardons” is, simply put, bread with bacon bits all through the crumb. Bread… and…. bacon. I know, I know… unless you are a very committed vegetarian you are salivating already.
The recipe comes from Daniel Leader’s Local Breads, and requires the preparation of a very stiff sourdough starter made with both whole wheat and regular flour, and a final dough with a small amount of rye, which, in my opinion, always gives a sourdough bread a touch of depth hard to achieve with any other flour.
Mix everything together, forming a stiff dough. Allow it to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, until doubled in volume.
280 g thick cut bacon
350 g water
450 g bread flour
50 g white rye flour
125 g starter (you will not use the full amount made)
10 g salt
Cut the bacon in 1/2 inch pieces and cook over medium heat. Do not let it brown, just cook until most of the fat is released. Drain over paper towels and dice finely.
Mix the water, bread flour, and rye flour in a large bowl, let it stand for 20 minutes. Add the sourdough mix (remember: only 125 g of it!), bacon, and salt. Knead with a Kitchen Aid type mixer on speed 4 for about 8 minutes. Ferment the dough for 1 hour, fold it a couple of times, place it to rise for another 2 to 3 hours.
Cut the dough in 4 equal pieces, shape as baguettes, and retard them in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove the baguettes from the fridge 3 hours before baking. Heat the oven to 450F, slash the baguettes and bake them with initial steam, for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool over a rack for a couple of hours before slicing them.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: The recipe makes 4 baguettes, but I chose to make two baguettes and a larger, batard-type loaf. I haven’t yet perfected the shaping of my baguettes, in part because I end up baking round loaves a lot more often, and rarely practice this elusive shape. But, what really matters – the taste – was superb! You would think that so much bacon in the dough could be overpowering, but quite the contrary, they had a very mellow taste. I was pleasantly surprised by how copper-colored the crust turned out, probably due to the bacon fat playing its magic. The smell was intoxicating, even our dogs were restless… 😉
Note to self: This bread would be a very good match for a bowl of chili…
I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting….