Sunday, February 12, 2006

Smoke and Fire Chili

Smoke and Fire Chili
An original recipe by Lorence Sing

So I made chili this weekend for the first time in quite a while. I've forgotten how good it can be on a cold winters day, especially when made properly. An this is how I've come up to make it took a while to develop. You see, family recipes can be a great source of gastronomic joy and my family was no exception; Grandma’s chopped liver, Aunt Lena’s matzo ball soup and chicken paprikash, Mom’s brisket and rice, heavenly lasagna and, ooh, her infamous and fortunately not recently seen meatloaf (sorry mom…). Unfortunately, I didn’t have a family recipe for chili. Since my mother never made it, I grew up not knowing what it tasted like and refusing to even try it. I didn’t even like the sound of it
…Then I got married…

Chili was among the many things my new bride made me try, even before we were married. And it wasn’t awful! The next step, of course, was to try to make it in my own kitchen, in my own way. After several years, the recipe below is what I’ve come up with and hope to pass down as my family recipe.

This recipe is about the chili itself. It contains at least 5 different varieties of chili pepper, each lending it’s own distinct flavor and heat to the dish; the Jalapeno’s sweet mild tingle, the Habanero’s tangy burn, the Chipotle’s smoky roar. A dash of chocolate at the end adds yet another dimension of flavor in an area of the tongue untouched by the reach of the various chilis. The extensive use of chili peppers in this manner produces a fierce heat as well, so this dish is always served with a generous serving of freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and whole dairy sour cream. I add the ingredients in stages to allow the flavors dance around and mingle with each other in differnt ways before the final product is ready. It looks rather involved for a chili recipe, but it's worth it! Be sure to check the notes at the bottom, too.

An award winner!

Honorable Mention, Children’s Hospital Employee Chef Contest, November 1999.

1 Tablespoon butter
3 small onions, diced
1 pound eye of round steak, about ½ thick and cut into cubes about ¼ inch. *
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Assorted Chili peppers, with at least the following:**
2 small jalapenos, seeded, chopped fine;
2 small habaneros, seeded, chopped fine;
1 chipotle (from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce), chopped;***
(add other chili peppers as available, such as poblano, ancho, serrano, anaheim, or scotch bonnet. I used rocotillo in this batch)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
3 cups water
1 can Brook’s "Just for Chili diced tomato with onions, medium"
(Do NOT drain the liquid!)
1 can Brook’s "Chili Hot Beans in chili sauce"
(Do NOT drain the liquid!)
1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Chili powder
2 teaspoons Ground cumin
½ teaspoonTumeric
Cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground mustard
15 to 20 semisweet chocolate chips ****
Sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded for serving
Real dairy sour cream

In a stock pot over medium high heat, melt butter to bubbling.
Add onion and steak.
Brown steak on all sides.
Add garlic and stir until onion becomes opaque. Do not let garlic brown.
Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Stir.
Add ½ teaspoon of ground cumin. Stir.
Lower heat to simmer and add ½ teaspoon ground mustard, stir for 2 minutes.
Add tomato sauce stir for 2 minutes.
Add 2 cups of water.
Raise heat and return to slow boil.
Add 1 tablespoon chili powder. Stir.
Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Stir.
Add ½ teaspoon tumeric. Stir.
Add ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper. Stir.
Add chopped fresh peppers. Stir.
Add chopped chipotle. Stir.
Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the can of tomatoes.
Add ½ cup water to the empty can and swirl it around to get all the remnants of flavor from the canin to the water, then add this water to the pot.
Add the can of beans.
Add ½ cup water to the empty can and swirl it around to get all the remnants of flavor from the can into the water, then add this water to the pot.
Return to a simmer.
Add the chocolate chips and stir for 2 minutes.
Simmer another 10 minutes and serve by the bowl full with Cheddar cheese and sour cream.
Have fire extinguisher handy!

* Use at least a halfway decent cut of meat. Don’t use anything ground!

** Use caution when seeding and chopping hot chili peppers. Wash you hands thoroughly afterwards. Do not touch your face or other sensitive areas without washing your hands thoroughly. Use gloves for this step if you have sensitive skin or if you wish to be extra careful. I know, I know, common sense, but it always bears repeating...

*** Small cans of chipotle chilis in Adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican section of large grocery stores. Once opened, Thye'll last a pretty long time if you transfer them to a small covered glass jar and keep them in the fidge.

**** Yes, you can eat the rest of the chocolate chips while you’re cooking. Just be sure to save enough for the chili. And DO NOT ADD CINNAMON TO THIS DISH. We are NOT in Cincinnati…yuck.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sausage and Potato Casserole

This recipe appeared as a comment posted by "Another Larry" to an item on my favorite blog, The J-Walkblog. I haven't made it, but it sounds like a nice tasty and warm winter dish. Cholesterol be damned, I've got to try it!

Sausage and Potato Casserole

14-26 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8-12 pork sausages such as Italian sausages
4-6 baking potatoes, peeled if desired and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried sage
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup chicken stock or water

Fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp.
Transfer to paper towels to drain and saute the onion and garlic
in the same skillet until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and set aside. Fry the sausages in the same
skillet until browned on both sides - there is no need to cook
them completely at this stage. Layer the potatoes in a greased
baking dish, top with the bacon and onion mixture, season with
sage, salt, and pepper, and top with the sausages. Add the stock
and bake tightly covered in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until
the potatoes are tender and the sausages are cooked through,
about 1 hour.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Winter Warmth - My Potato-Onion Skillet

I'm not really sure where I got this recipe, though I think it may have been from Jeff Smith's "Frugal Gourmet" show. This is a fantastic tasting, easy winter time recipe that always leaves us with a warm and full belly. The basic recipe has only 6 simple ingredients and uses only one pot, so both prep and cleanup are a breeze.

Although I've called it a skillet dish, it works even better when made on a deep pot, such as a soup pot because you can make more layers of potato, onion and cabbage and fit more sausage on top. Warm up with this dish once when you are feeling chilled it is sure to become a cold weather regular for you, too.

3 medium yellow onion, sliced thin and separated into individual rings (not Vadalia)
3 large potaotes, sliced thin, either baking potatoes or Yukon Gold*
3 cups shredded green cabbage
½ pound (or more!) Polish or smoked sausage, sliced thin
1 cup chicken broth
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of potato.
2. Cover the potato layer with a layer of the onion rings.
3. Make another layer of potato, another layer of onion, then a third layer of potato.
4. Make a layer of cabbage using half the cabbage.
5. Make another layer of potato.
6. Make another layer of cabbage using the rest of the cabbage.
7. Layer the sliced sausage over the cabbage
8. Turn the heat on to high until you hear the potato start to sizzle onthe bottom. This should take just a minute or two.
9. Pour in the chicken broth, turn the heat down to simmer and cover.
10. Cook covered for about 20 minutes.
11. Turn of the heat. Top with the parmesan cheese and put cover back on. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

We like this with a nice Sourdough bread.
Options (highly recommended):
*Use Yukon Gold potatoes, if possible. They really add to the flavor and texture of this dish.