Welcome to Seasonall - my spin on seasonal cooking - with all elements perfectly seasoned - and all seasonings properly represented. I hope to create - with your help - the perfect pairings for a fully seasonal menu of soup, sandwich, salad and pasta.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Anatomy of a Party

My son Rhys turns one next week.  Conveniently enough, his first birthday falls on a Saturday, during the holiday season, which can mean only one thing.
Time to throw a party.
So where to begin?  With a list.  More like list(S).  While my logical self knows that buffet-style offerings of a few dishes (lasagna, salad, garlic bread, done) would be the simplest thing I could do, that’s not how I entertain.  So I decided on serving individual appetizers.  A lot of them.  This endeavor will require taking a day off work next week, but will be well worth it.

My first list was the guest list.  A palate cornucopia of foodies, vegetarians, kids and meat-and-potatoes-only-please guys.  25+ adults and 10+ kids ages 12 and under made up the guest list. So my menu planning had to be creative.  Here’s what I came up with:
For the cutting-edge taste buds:
-          Sweet brie en croute – apricot preserve, cranberries, almonds, brie, puff pastry
-          Savory brie en croute – sundried tomatoes, olive tapenade, etc. (also puff pastry)
-          Onion tart
-          Apple cranberry spinach salad with poppy-seed vinaigrette
-          Basil-Caesar salad
-          Various crostini – I’m thinking a fig/prosciutto/goat cheese mash-up, and good ‘ol pesto/bruschetta/mozzarella.  (Yes, the faint-of-heart-taste-bud-holders would consider bruschetta outside their comfort zone.   See what I’m dealing with!?)
-          Crab dip
-          Spinach artichoke dip

For the faint-of-tastebud?
-          Pizza puffs – Aunt Janet’s recipe of Rhodes rolls, Ragu, pepperoni and cheese.  (a cheese version will also make the buffet.)
-          Macaroni and cheese tins – mac n cheese in individual muffin tins
-          Buffalo chicken dip
-          Meatballs.  Not just any meatballs – Paula Deen’s bacon cheeseburger meatloaf transformed into meatballs.  (you’re welcome, guests!)

All will be accompanied by the following:
-          Veggie tray
-          Sausage/cheese tray
-          Bread, chips  (enter list of spoon-shaped carbs here)

Dessert includes vanilla, spice cake and red velvet cupcakes for baby (and guest) cake-mashing.
To meet this end, I currently have, not one, not two, but nine (say it with me.....NINE TIMES) lists going.  Lists entitled:
-          Inside Projects
-          Outside Projects
-          General
-          To Buy
-          To Rent
-          To Borrow
-          CostCo
-          Trader Joe’s
-          Jewel
When I set the lists out on the counter, my husband, God bless his heart, asked if we couldn’t just order pizza for the party.
You can imagine how well THAT went over.
So.  I’ll keep ya’ll posted on the week’s progress. 
Today, I’ve been to Kohl’s, Target, Lowe’s, HomeGoods and have sent hubby on two trips to 7-11.  Can’t face the grocery just yet. 
The best news is that I have 3 guinea pigs here (my 10-year-old and his buddies) to recipe test.  First up – the mac n cheese tins.  To use muffin cup liners or not to use muffin cup liners, that is the question!  On first glance, methinks I’m going to use them, unless it results in mac n cheese a la aluminum foil.  Will let you know the results once they’re in!
(As an aside, when I went to download the pic of the mac n cheese I took, there was an email ad in my inbox for photography classes.  Which one of you sent that!?  C’mon.  I KNOW it was you guys…..)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taste Test

Isn’t taste a funny thing?

If you’re talking art, interior design or fashion, taste is certainly born of a subjective “sense” of an item or grouping of items – and if you’re talking palate, it’s certainly the most subjective of our five senses. 
Sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and the uber-nebulous umami.  (I spent 35 minutes trying to put an umlaut on that u.  Then I quit.  I dare you to try to correct me.)   If it were only that easy to categorize food.  Texture and temperature play a huge part in what we have a “taste” for, as does mood, hunger level, sense of smell and exposure to foods or flavors by a specific age.  I’m raising my 10-year-old son, Ben, to be a foodie – hats off to him for ordering a lamb-burger when we went out to dinner a few nights back.  He didn’t like it.  I don’t like lamb either.  Jules from Pulp Fiction “don’t dig on swine” – I feel the same way about sheep. 
My one-year-old I am also going to attempt to raise as a foodie – but a bit more scientifically.  New studies show that kids are most receptive to new tastes and textures between the ages of 6 and 24 months – and then preferences carry into adult life.  So, if I let Rhys try lamb before the age of 2, chances are more likely that he’ll enjoy it as an adult.  (I’m not going to.  Then I might have to have it in the house.  This experiment works both ways.)
Since the holidays are so representative of food-based memories, I think differences in taste are most problematic around this time.  My husband (NOT a foodie, but trending upward), for example, grew up having succotash as his Thanksgiving vegetable.  If you ask me, it’s SUCK-o-tash!  Not much worse texturally to me than a bland lima bean.  So, next Thursday won’t be the first time I make multiple dishes that please both of our palates. 

My favorite mashed potatoes are heavy on butter, sour cream and cream cheese (I love ALL white condiments!) but the only “cream” my husband tolerates is in his morning coffee.  So, I’ll be making plain mashed, splitting them into two halves, and leaving one half plain and I’ll white condiment my portion to my liking.
One major dividing line that I think exists in taste is this – I think that you’re either a citrus person or a berry person.  I am a berry person.  Ben didn’t know that oranges came from anything other than a can until he was old enough to peel one by himself.  The oil from the rind of an orange under my fingernails can ruin my day.  I once had to leave work after an hour because the cleaning crew had Lemon-Pledged my desk.  Instant migraine.  Yellow, green and orange gummy bears need not apply. So, you can imagine how I feel about my mom’s Thanksgiving cranberry relish – a simple combination of cranberries, oranges and sugar.  To me, it just TASTES like a canker sore.  One bite and I’m reaching for the Orajel.

In deference to my love of all things white condiment, (which include sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, Caesar dressing, butter, horseradish/horsey sauce – post a comment if I left any out) I have to post the cranberry relish recipe I stumbled across below.  I’ll also post the Canker-sore-relish recipe for those of my followers that are citrus people.
Which do you think sounds better?

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish
(Seasonall Note:  I LOVE horseradish sauce on beef – wouldn’t eat it without it.  I love cranberry (I guiltily admit I love canned cranberry sauce – can-rings and all) on turkey, too.  So, why has it taken me so long to think about pairing turkey with horseradish?  The combination of cream cheese, good crusty bread, this relish and good crusty bread will make one hell of a Panini next Friday!)
2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")
Grind the raw berries and onion together. ("I use an old-fashioned meat grinder," says Stamberg. "I'm sure there's a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.")
Add everything else and mix.
Put in a plastic container and freeze.
Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. ("It should still have some little icy slivers left.")
This allegedly looks like puree-o-Pepto-Bismol once complete, but I still can’t wait to test it out this year.
And, now, for those of you that don’t mind the rind:
Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 orange
¾ to 1 c sugar, to “taste” (pun intended)
Pinch Orajel (couldn’t resist)
Put washed, drained cranberries in a food processor with 1 orange which has been peeled and quartered with all seeds being removed.
Pulse for a few seconds, or until just coarsely chopped. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl, if necessary, to chop evenly.
Add sugar and taste, adjusting sweetness as desired.  Stir well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Just don’t forget the Orajel.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Allez Cuisine! (Start Cooking!)

Is it bad that sometimes, just sometimes, I like it when I see someone else screw up?

Are you a “pro” at what you do?  Go ahead!  Be my guest!  Have an epic fail!  It makes the rest of us feel better!

In “real life,” I work in the golf industry.  But I’m not a great player.  So, while I like watching guys on Tour get hot and go low, there’s something about Kevin Na making 16 on a par 4 that makes me smile like Gilly.  Makes the 10 I took on that par 4 the last time I played much less demoralizing.  

I happen to think it’s just as good for my 10-year-old son to see a Golden-Glover let one sneak through the wickets as it is to watch the same guy turn a miraculous double-play. 

This same sort of “gawker” phenomenon occurs when I pick up the Star! In the checkout line at the grocery because it’s the “Stars With Cellulite - Without Makeup!” issue.  Thank you, Jennifer Love Hewitt, yes I will have dessert!

We’re human.  None of us are perfect.  Ty Cobb – baseball’s best ever – had a batting average of .366.  Just slightly better than one for three.  In cooking terms, that means that if one of the three meals a day I cook is solid, I’m in “best ever” company.    But batting .366 in the kitchen means I’ve had my share of strike-outs.

For some reason, some of my favorite “kitchen nightmares” - mine and others’ - revolve around poultry. 

The first one was my mistake. 

I had chicken out on the counter, right next to the stove, uncovered, and ready to go in a pan.  As always, I was multi-tasking.  On another burner on the stove, I had a double-boiler going for some sort of melted-chocolate-goodness recipe.  When I went to pull the bowl of melted chocolate off of the boiling-water-pot below, it stuck.  When I tugged, I tugged too hard, and the glass bowl practically levitated upwards and crashed into the microwave mounted over my stove.  The bowl shattered.  I really thought I got all of the glass out of that chicken, really.  (I know.  I KNOW!)   So, when my amazing husband started crunching glass during dinner, I was mortified.  Needless to say he didn’t finish it.  I may or not have picked a fight that night about him not liking my cooking.

Home cooks make mistakes all the time.  The second poultry tale I’ll tell (and I’ll preface this by saying that I know that undercooked chicken isn’t funny, it’s dangerous) is my son’s stepmom’s “kitchen nightmare.”  (I TOLD you seeing someone else screw up can be fun!)  When Ben was about 6, before I started indoctrinating him in all things Food Network/Cooking Channel, he came to my house one day raving about “Kathy’s Pink Chicken.”  It was his FAVORITE.  I was jealous!  I grilled him about what was pink about it, and got nowhere.  He didn’t have the vocabulary for food.  And I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.  Was it a sauce?  A coating?  A garnish?  (Could he be colorblind?)  After weeks of hearing about that damned pink chicken, I finally asked my ex-husband about it.  Say it with me, people……#undercooked.  I can tell you that the story of “Kathy’s Pink Chicken” isn’t Kathy’s favorite story.

The last gastronomic gaffe I have for you is my family’s fabled Drop-Kick-Turkey-Thanksgiving.  I don’t remember how old I was, but knowing which childhood kitchen is the setting for this story, I know I was younger than 12.  As I remember it, my paternal grandparents were pulling into the driveway just as either the timer went off or my mom realized the turkey was done.  Were the flimsy aluminum throwaway pans a new fad that year?  Was the promise of “easy-clean-up” too much for my mom to ignore?  I don’t know if I ever asked her why she was using the flimsy aluminum throwaway pan – I have vivid memories of a black-and-white speckled roasting pan being used other years.  But use the disposable she did.  And in the process of pulling the turkey (HOT!) out of the oven, that throwaway pan lived up to its disposability a tad bit early and buckled, catapulting the turkey right onto the kitchen floor. 

DING DONG!  (Did I mention that in this house, the “family” entrance was a door right in the kitchen?)  Some sitcom writer would be better than I at outlining what took place next – the turkey being kicked as my mom bent down to wrestle it back into the pan, the floor being slippery-slidey, covered in (HOT!) turkey grease, me trying to tell Grandma and Grandpa through the door (can you imagine your in-laws peering in the door at this scene?) to go around to the front door…it’s gone down in family Thanksgiving folklore. 

But, do you know what?  We ate the chicken with the glass in it. And “Kathy’s Pink Chicken.” And the Thanksgiving turkey with the slightest essence of Mop-N-Glo (if you’re going to eat off a floor, believe me, you’d want it to be my mom’s floor) – and despite the culinary mistakes, the diners lived to tell (and re-tell) the tales.

We all make mistakes.  And sometimes, just sometimes, getting to witness – or just hearing about – other people’s mistakes makes us feel better about - or comfortable accepting - our own.  So if you’re wary of the kitchen, whether tonight’s dinner menu consists of Easy Mac or beef wellington with vegetable terrine, just get in there and cook.  Do your best.  Enjoy the process.  Savor your results.  Learn from your mistakes.  And if the end result is that bad, call for takeout.

And so, now readers, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of the Chairman’s Uncle:

 (Even if you’re nervous.)

(Even if you’re worried about making a mistake.)

“Allez cuisine!”  (Start Cooking!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chilly? Chili! Part Two – White Chicken Chili, or, Poaching the Subject

I got the next recipe I’m going to share from the email recipe exchange that went around a few years back.  It’s one of my go-to favorites for either entertaining or a pretty quick weeknight meal.  It’s a great make on Sunday and have all week for lunch recipe too.

It also provided me with the key to one of my favorite techniques to date – poaching.  When I signed up for a Viking Cooking School University class a few years back, my main goal was to learn about how to cook meat to the proper temperature, so that it’s not over-or-undercooked,  and still retains its moist-ness.  I learned a lot.  Like, did anyone else know that dial-probe meat thermometers are ADJUSTABLE?  Do you know how many of them I have thrown away for reading room-temperature at 45 degrees!?  Never again!    Just stick it in a heavily-iced glass of water for a few minutes, grab the round top, hold the probe, and TURN the thermometer to 32 degrees.  FIXED!  Who knew, really?

To be honest, when I don’t use a meat thermometer, I’m still good for an overcooked or undercooked chicken breast every once-in-awhile, but for any recipe that calls for shredded chicken, since I found this recipe, I’ve been a poacher.  Boiling something in a similarly-flavored liquid ensures moisture.  Try it the next time you make your favorite chicken salad.  (Calorie conscious?  It takes a lot less mayonnaise to moistly coat shredded chicken than cubed.)  Works great for enchiladas too, or really in any Mexican recipe that calls for chicken.

(I have to insert a quick shout-out to Jimmy Fallon, who writes and reads Thank You Notes to idiosyncracies and pet peeves on his Friday evening Late Night show.  A favorite (and I just used this word twice already in this post):  Thank you, the word "moist," for being the worst word ever. I think I speak for all Americans when I say that we don't want you as a word anymore. God I hate you.”  Ha!

To poach chicken, place chicken breasts (or thighs) in a pot that's just large enough to fit them in one layer.  Cover the chicken completely with liquid.  You can use water, stock, even oil – stock will impart the best flavor with low fat.  After bringing the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil/high simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Since you’ll be shredding the chicken anyway for most uses, there’s no harm in checking it for doneness – go ahead, slice into it, and if it’s not cooked through, you can put it back in the pot!  For those of you slow cookers, this can also be finished in a crockpot.

 So, without further ado, here’s the easy White Chicken Chili recipe:

White Chicken Chili

3 cans northern white beans (15 oz cans)

3 cans chicken broth (14 oz cans) – Seasonall note:  I use the boxed stock which run about 26 oz, so a box and a half total works for this recipe.

2 cloves minced garlic

1 medium chopped onion

Olive oil

6 green chilies (roasted) – Seasonall note:  I use 2-3 2.25 oz cans of fire roasted mild green chilies – available in the Latin food aisle

1 lb white chicken breast – Seasonall note:  I use boneless, skinless

2 cups Monterey jack cheese

1 tbs cilantro – Seasonall note: this measurement is for dried cilantro

2 tsp cumin

1 ½ tsp oregano

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp cayenne

Boil the chicken in one of the cans of broth/stock.  Seasonall note – for poaching, use about 15-20 oz of the stock.  Sautee chopped onion and garlic in olive oil (1 tbs).  Let chicken cool, then shred or chop.  If using a crockpot, pour poaching liquid into the crockpot with the chicken and add onion mixture.  If not using a crockpot, add poaching liquid and shredded chicken to the onions and garlic mixture.  Add remaining chicken stock.  Pour two cans of white beans (with liquid) into the mix.  Open the final can of beans and mash them thoroughly, with liquid, then add to the mix.  Peel roasted chilies and dice and add, or add the two cans of roasted chilies.  Add cilantro and remaining spices.  At this point, the chili can cook all day or can be heated over higher heat until ready to eat.  For planning purposes, add Monterey Jack 30 minutes prior to serving.*  Stir occasionally after adding the cheese.

* Seasonall note – Once the cheese is added, the chili is tricky (read: gummy) to reheat.  If you don’t plan on eating all of this at one serving time (yield is approx. 8-10), portion out the cheese and chili you will reserve and store the chili cheese-free until ready to eat.  Cheese can be added stovetop or even in the microwave when reheating chili.  Add the portion of cheese remaining to the chili to be eaten today.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Corny, cheesy stuff.

I looked over my first posts – wondering if either the recipes or writing were too foodie?  Corny?  Cheesy?

MMmmmmm.  Corny?  Cheesy? These are a few of my favorite things!

So I went all in. 

I posted Guy Fieri's chili recipe the other day, knowing that I’d be looking for a sandwich pairing to go with it.  But chili is FILLING!  So I couldn’t think of the perfect sandwich pairing.  But could I modify a bread choice to act like a sandwich to compliment this chili?

Say it with me, moms of Bob the Builders everywhere … “Yes I Can!”

So, here’s what played out.  I knew that some variation on chilies and cheese and cornbread would be a great accompaniment to that chili recipe.  So I tested.  Green chilies, cheddar, jalapenos, Monterey jack, cornbread mix – in the words of The Chairman, which combination would “reign supreme?”  Turns out, depends on your palate.  I tested every combination, and determined that with the sweetness of the cornbread, mixing the peppers/cheese combinations to cut the heat wasn’t really necessary.  So, green chilies and cheddar (mild) works, as does jalapenos and Monterey jack (hot.)

My next question was this – why hasn’t anyone ever coated cheese in cornbread batter (a la cheese dog) and fried that creamy goodness?  I don't know why! So, I fried two cheeses in cornmeal batter.

Enter flashback vignette here.  One of my best cooking coups was when my best friend came to visit from Cali.  We ordered pizza from the ONE pizza place in Chicago that didn’t also deliver mozzarella sticks.  She wanted mozzarella sticks. Me, being totally and completely codependent, and just wanting to cater to my friends's craving, set out to make them.  So, I milked, floured, egged and breaded plastic-wrapped cheese sticks – sans plastic – and fried ‘em up.  They were a hit.  (Note.  Frying cheese…melts cheese in the frying process.  Cut to size what you want to fry – cubes, sticks, etc.  Then FREEZE it.  Then proceed with the breading/frying process.)

Same logic applies to the un-dogged corn dog.  I took another box of cornbread mix, replaced the called-for milk with beer, added a small handful of breadcrumbs, and fried away.  Why HASN’T anyone done this before?  I froze cubes of cheese, dipped them in the batter, then quickly fried them (turning once) until crisp on both sides.

Finally, my last carb-based chili-pondering thought – you can put soup in a bread bowl, salad in a tortilla bowl – why doesn’t anyone put chili in some-form-of -carb-bowl? I started frying tortilla bowls.  I followed recipes that said that a tortilla “plunged” into oil by a ladle would form that perfect circular shape.  As if.  Luckily, I had purchased tortillas at CostCo, so 142 tortillas into a gross, I found the solution – fry, con ladle, then shove rounded bowl into a muffin pan – then bake at 400 until firm.

The end result?


In a tortilla bowl.

Topped with a corny/cheese fritter.

Nom.  Nom.  Nom.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chilly? Chili!

I love to shop at grocery stores where the cashiers converse with you – or quiz you – about the culinary outcomes of your purchases as they scan.  Trader Joe’s associates are tops at this.  Whole Foods’ associates too.  To her individual credit, I did once have a funny interaction at Jewel where the checkout lady told me if I “was looking for a buzz” I should go put the SkinnyGirl Sangria on the belt back on the shelf and pick out something else.  

One of my favorites of these exchanges was a conversation with a TJ’s checkoutchef about me using their refrigerated pizza dough to make flatbread pizza on my gas grill. (You have to roll or press it out much thinner than recommended on the package.   Each pouch yields up to 4 12” grilled flatbread rounds.  Grill untopped.  Oil grill (olive) and pop bubbles as you go.  Top then finish in broiler.  But I digress, I promised you Winter!)  She lived in an apartment without a balcony or patio so didn’t have a gas grill.  But she did also made grilled pizza.  Over coals. On a hibachi.  On her front sidewalk.  Love!  (Another aside?  Some of the same TJ’s people have told me that the herb refrigerated dough makes “great breadsticks.”  I’ve heard it 20 times.  So I made them.  AWFUL. Bland sawdusticks.)

My most recent culinary conversation was a Scoville-scale-symposium at Whole Foods.  Whole Foods is to me what Dick’s Sporting Goods is to my ten-year-old son.  This being Seasonall, both are places where (money burns holes in your pocket and) seasonality is key.  Bulls?  Blackhawks?  Winter.  Cubs? Sox?  Summer.   Same goes for Whole Foods, of course.  I was there to buy Anaheims and poblanos for Guy Fieri’s Dragon’s Breath Chili (recipe follows), hence the heated discussion (ha!) with the checkout guy.  Guy’ Fieri’s recipe is a hearty, party-portioned standout with deep, broad heat involving multiple meaty textures. 

Before I get into the recipe:  for my fellow Catholic-school graduates – one mea cupla and one caveat emptor. 

Mea Culpa: I am traveling this weekend and not cooking.  So there won’t be step-by-step photos cataloguing my knife skills or visually showcasing the finished product. (My knife skills are limited – I’m currently recovering from an “I don’t need no stinkin’ stiches!” knife accident.  ALWAYS put a wet paper-towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping.  ALWAYS!)  Check back for foodie eye-candy photos in the future. 

Caveat Emptor:  I am going to assume that those that follow this blog have the same primal foodie-phenomenology (Google it!) that I have.  I will assume that when I suggest that you add green chilies or jalapenos and cheese to boxed cornbread mix, you’ll just KNOW – like I do – how to “eyeball it.”  Those that don’t, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply with proper measurements.  In the following recipe, for example, we assume that you either know how to (or again, can Google how to) roast chilies.

Dragon’s Breath Chili, reposted from the Food Network and courtesy of Guy Fieri:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease, or canola oil - Seasonall Note:  Vegetarian suggestions follow recipe
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 jalapenos, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
  • 3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head garlic, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 pound boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes – Seasonall Note:  despite good, sharp knife, Carpal Tunnel Alert!
  • 2 pounds ground beef, coarse grind - Seasonall Note:  HUGELY important.  Don’t get regular ground beef.  The coarse grind is in same refrigerator case – one shelf up!
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage – Seasonall Note:  I used equal amounts of chuck, ground beef and sausage for texture.  Wanted more of a “cowboy chili” feel.
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 12 ounces lager beer - Seasonall Note:  Whatever.  12 oz. beer in a 15-serving recipe?  Methinks Natty Lite would work just as well.  Better beer = depth of flavor of course, but I’m not serving to that discerning of taste buds!
  • 1 cup chicken stock – Seasonall Note:  Veggies – you know what to do!
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto beans, with juice
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans kidney beans, with juice
  • Saltine crackers, for garnish
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar
In large stock pot over high heat, add butter and bacon grease. Add bell pepper, jalapeno, chilies and onion and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute longer. Add chuck and brown. Add ground beef and sausage to brown and stir gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook until meat is nicely browned and cooked through, about 7 to10 minutes. Add in granulated onions, granulated garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add in tomato sauce and paste and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in beer and chicken stock. Add beans, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Garnish with Saltine crackers, green onions and shredded Cheddar.

Seasonall’s suggestions/variations:

-          I added one can of supersweet corn to combat some of the heat for those of my guests that may be faint-of-palate.  I also served with cornbread muffins that guests could crumble into the chili.  (hint: don’t provide a separate bread plate – force the dunk-action by not giving them a place to  put that muffin – other than in the bowl!)  Also – where is sour cream on Guy’s list of garnishes.  A MUST for chili in my book!

-          Another shout-out to Guy Fieri, per another of his recipes/shows.  Always grate your own cheese.  Bagged grated cheese has that flour-y powdery thing happening.  For those watching fat and calories – and for those that aren’t – you’ll use less if it’s freshly grated.

-          I thought about it, didn’t, and might have, substituted black beans for the pinto and kidney beans.  It’s a dark, rich chili and I think the tooth of the black beans would have paired well texturally with the different cuts of meat.

-          This is a HUGE recipe.  Yields 10-15 servings.    If halving, I always (I was an English major) do all of the recipe-math before I start assembling the recipe.  Especially if I have to shop for ingredients!  You don’t want to get into it and have to figure out what half of three-fourths is.  Makes me sweat just typing that.

-          Given the recipe size, one suggestion would be to serve half to your family and reserve half.  Mix a boxed cornbread mix – add cheese, canned corn, minced or roasted jalapeno or canned green chilies if desired.  Pour half of chili into a ceramic/porcelain casserole dish with a plastic lid.  Pour cornbread mix over. Not over the lid, obviously.  (Make sure there is at least an inch of clearance between the top of your mix and the top of the casserole dish to allow plastic lid to be put on.)  Bake at 400 degrees , uncovered, or until cornbread is set.  Allow to cool then cover with plastic lid and freeze for future snowy nights or football Sundays.

-          Lastly, to my veggie friends – I do love veggie crumbles.  I make chili with them often.  I do think that the heat of the peppers would overwhelm a veggie-crumble substitution.  So.  My recommendation would be to obviously go canola oil over bacon grease.  Then, I don’t think this recipe translates well to a 15-person serving for vegetarians.  Halve it on paper – and don’t worry about doing the math on the chilies.  Then, substiture for all of the meat, 2-3 (you be the judge, depending on desired texture) bags of veggie crumbles, and cut the chilies to 1 Anaheim, 1 poblano, 1 bell and 1 jal.  The veg crumbles can’t absorb and handle the heat the way real meat can.  I think you’ll like it!!!!
I know I said I’d be open to YOUR suggestions about pairing courses.  This to me would be great with a quesadilla (maybe reserve a portion of the roasted chilies to add to quesadilla mixture – mmmmm) but what do YOU think would go well with Guy’s Dragon’s Breath Chili?