Month: February 2011

a Super Bowl of Chili

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What is better than hunkering down to watch the Super Bowl with a big cup of chili?  Nothing, that’s what.  So here is the recipe that I made this year.  I’m writing it exactly as I made it, because it came out really well.  N said it was the best chili I’ve ever made.  You should know that this is not a fiery chili, but rather a sophisticated and smoky one.

This is one of those dishes that will never come out the same way twice, because you can really adjust or change so many of the ingredients and it will be fantastic.  I was trying to think of a name that would illustrate this point.  Now I have heard of some really awful names for recipes.  (Rachel Ray = guilty!)  Things like “Garbage Pizza” don’t sound very good to me.   I even have a friend that makes a delicious chocolate dessert, but calls it Poo Pie.  Poo Pie!  I’m not going to lie – that kind of freaks me out.  So even though you can throw just about anything into this chili, I’ll refrain from giving it a truly distasteful name – which is why I’m going with Fatty’s Dirty Chili.

Fatty’s Dirty Chili

Please don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients.  It’s a one pot meal so once everything is in you just let it cook away until done.  I promise it’s well worth it.

1 T oil (one little tablespoon for all this chili = awesome)
1 extra-large onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lbs. ground beef (I used the leanest mix I could find)
2-3 T chipotle chili powder
2 T dried oregano
½ t coffee (I had a tiny bit of instant coffee left in a jar – so I just threw it in)
3 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 t crushed fennel seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bottle beer (I think I used Sam Adams winter)
1 can diced San Marzano tomatoes 28 oz.
1 can 14.5 oz. diced toms w/chili
Sun dried tomato diced fine
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
2 mini eggplants, chopped (called Indian eggplants)
1 sweet potato, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
* shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, chopped and sautéed (extra step!  Please see step 5.)
*½ tsp. fresh Thyme

1.  Heat oil in a Dutch oven.  (I used my beautiful Martha Stewart cast iron enamel pot.)

2.  When hot, add onions, pobalano, and garlic.  Cook until onions are golden.

3. Add meat.  Cook until fully browned.  Add herbs and spices.  Stir.  Add beer.  Cover and cook.

4.  Add tomatoes, beans, veggies.  Cook with the lid off to reduce liquid.

5.  * Add the sautéed mushrooms in now, along with the thyme.  (As mentioned above, I sautéed these first in a drop of olive oil and then added them, but you don’t need to.  I just happened to like the specific taste of sautéed shiitakes in this dish.)

6.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Enjoy!

  I served my chili with lime zest, lime sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, mild cheddar and diced radish.  I also served some homemade bread that my friend Patty made and it was an excellent accompaniment.  If you’re curious, she told me that it’s a mix from a company called Tastefully Simple.  She made the Savory Wheat Beer Bread.  I’ve added the link below.   

 

 

Twists

1.  I’d like to try ground turkey in this recipe.
2.  You can definitely use more garlic.  For this amount of chili, I’d try 6 cloves.
3.  I might skip the zucchini next time.  They tasted just fine, but after such a long cooking time they didn’t hold their texture well and didn’t add enough of a difference to matter.  I’d keep the yellow squash though, because their color looked so nice!
4.  I added sun-dried tomatoes because I had some on hand, but next time I think I’d try a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.
5.  I added the thyme because I happened to have it available, but I don’t think it added much flavor.

 

If you try this recipe I’d love to know what you think and the way you changed it up.  Share your twists with me!

Also, you can look for Savory Wheat Beer Bread here:  www.tastefullysimple.com

Birthday Blog

Happy Birthday to me!  Man, I really love my birthday.  I’m happy from the moment I wake up and I revel in the birthday wishes that pour in online, on the phone, by text and from my friends and co-workers that I see.  How can you not be happy on a day when everyone wishes you and calls to tell you they love you?!

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!

In a happy coincidence my boss has the same birthday as me.  Even better, he thinks it’s totally cool that we share the day and we walk around all day annoying our team by constantly reminding them that February 3rd is the best day of the year.  They roll their eyes and we laugh like crazy.  If you’re rolling your eyes now, you’re obviously not born on February 3rd.

Well the boss and I obviously had to celebrate the momentous day by going out to lunch.  A group of us went to The Elm Street Oyster House in Greenwich.  I’d never been there before and had heard good things so I was eager to try it for myself.  We walked to the restaurant located just off of Greenwich Avenue, on Elm Street.  It’s not a very big place.  You enter the restaurant on one side with a bar with exposed brick face and lots of lovely dark wood, which I love.  Cross over to the dining room and you’ll find white walls with bold colorful artwork and lots of light pouring in from the large windows.

Obviously seafood was what we were in the mood for.  Upon first glance the menu seemed imaginative though a little on the expensive side considering what I would expect to pay for lunch.  This is, after all, Greenwich.

I chose shrimp cocktail for an appetizer, and for my entrée I had the Maryland Crab Cakes & Zucchini Fritter with Sautéed Spinach.  The shrimp cocktail was quite good… good size and not ice cold.  The cocktail sauce was of the ubiquitous red variety, I don’t know if it was homemade, but I’m a fan of the bottled stuff so I was happy.  I wanted to love the crab cakes – but I didn’t.  They were made with flaked crab, rather than lump meat.  To be honest I have yet to find a crab cake that is really rave-worthy.  The potato zucchini fritter was clever in thought, though I don’t think it quite hit the mark either.  It might have been better with a crispier texture.

I had mild plate envy looking at what one of my co-workers ordered.  He got the Lump Crab Salad Sandwich with melted Jack cheese, mesquite fries and corn relish.  It looked really delicious and he seemed to really enjoy it, but I was aiming for something a little healthier or at least not covered in cheese.  (I had a training appointment scheduled at the gym that evening and so guilt helped me make my selection.)

All in all it was a pleasant meal, but I didn’t find the need to tell anyone about it, which is usually a good indication of an exceptional dining experience for me.

So birthday lunch didn’t set off fireworks, but I am looking forward to birthday weekend plans.  And before the day ends I’m pretty sure that my boss and I can come up with a dozen reasons why Aquarians rule or why February 3rd should be a national holiday. 

Stop rolling your eyes.