Monday: Second Day Chili / App of Guacamole and Chips
Tuesday: Barbecued Chicken / Green Salad / App of Cheese and Crackers
Wednesday: Leftover Chicken
Thursday: Father Drew Talk – Chicken Tetrazini from The Cornerstone Restaurant / App of Ricotta with crostini and crudités / Salad / Dessert of cookies and pastry from Katie, Hilda and Linda
Friday: Grilled Swordfish with Wine-Bottle Sauce / Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Basil
Billy, at the Chicago 5 K, last weekend
Saturday: Senti Restaurant – Nice space, Great Fritto Misto, Unseasoned, poorly cooked entrees.
Sunday: Jacques Pépin’s Greek Tomato Salad / Grilled Lamb with yogurt sauce on flat bread
I am capable of eating enormous, SWMBO would say ‘gross,’ amounts of food. Sometimes there is a plausible reason for this excess – a Steeler’s loss, e.g. – but sometimes I find myself eating food just “because it is there.” [You will remember that this was Edmund Hilary’s reply when he, the conqueror of Mt. Everest was asked why he climbed it. What he lacked in logic, he made up in courage.]
There are times, however, when I don’t eat everything in sight, allowing us to have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. And when you cook for 2, there is often a fair amount left over. But the good news is that some things improve with age. (God knows I hope that’s true of my golf swing.) Among those things are wisdom, most wines, temperament, patience and the growth of hair in ears and other unwanted places. And also, to get back on track, there is a whole class of food that falls into this category – stews, cheeses, ragùs and, above all my favorite chili, which is really Steve Raichlen’s chili, which he probably got from someone else and which, for all I know, he may no long cook.
Before I tell you about this chili and about why we made it two Sunday’s ago with the temperature in the eighties, let me remind you about Steve Raichlen. (Surely nobody who cooks doesn’t know this guru of grilling?) Steve’s magnum opus is How to Grill, a master guide to cooking outdoors for home chefs. He is solid on the regular stuff – steaks, ribs and chops – but also good on fish, vegetables and fruit. If you grill, you need this book (and Francis Mallman, Joe Carroll, et. al.). Raichlen has also had a long-running series on PBS, but it is difficult to watch. How to describe Steve’s t.v. personality? Where Bobby Flay is a natural, Steve is, well, unnatural. His timing is missing a semi-quaver, his enthusiasm seems forced, his humor falls flat, but he is clearly a good guy and an absolute master of cooking outdoors over wood, or charcoal. This alone negates his social and expressive deficits and makes him automatically cool for men. I’m not sure how he does with the ladies.
Steve’s chili takes a little time and a little chopping, but it offers a great return on equity. And, if you wait to eat it until the second day, or, if like me, you can’t wait but you make so much that you have leftovers, you will find that the flavors have deepened and improved and, well, if you can leave enough to eat for a third day, please let me know how it tastes. It never lasts that long at our house.
We made this chili two Sundays ago, despite the steamy temperature, because we had the air conditioning cranked and it fell like a brisk autumn day. The Steelers won, the air conditioning was bracing, and the chili was superb – though not as good as the next day.
REALLY GOOD CHILI
(adapted from Steve Raichlen’s Man-Made Meals)
Timing: 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. But make 1 day ahead, if you can.
Ingredients: This will feed 8 folks at least
1 lb. beef tenderloin tips, cut in ¼ – ½ inch dice (we got a butcher at Giant Eagle to do this for us – there must have been someone from HQ there on an inspection tour – but you can cut this up yourself or, to save money, just substitute lean ground meat)
2 lbs. ground beef
¼ lb. ground pork (we used about ½ lb., we like the unctuousness it adds to the chili)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (we used 2 – we love poblanos)
2 or 3 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup pure chile powder, or more to taste (I tossed in some pasilla chili powder for a little more heat)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 quarts chicken stock
1 bottle of beer
1 can tomato sauce (8 0z.) – we used tomato puree cut with a little water
2 cans pinto beans, drained (Raichlen rinses them as well – we don’t)
2 cans kidney beans, drained (again, Raichlen rinses – we don’t) – we substituted cannellini beans
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar (we only had light brown)
1-3 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (you guessed it, we used 3 +)
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
Coarse kosher or sea salt
Fixings: Sour Cream, sliced scallions, diced red onions, cilantro, tortilla chips, corn bread, chopped tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese, slice black olives, diced jalapeños or poblanos – we used all of these, but you can add or subtract except that you will want the sour cream if you make a hotter chili and you’ll want the crunch of the tortilla chips
Measure out the meat and dice the tenderloin.
Chop the onion and peppers
Mince the garlic
Measure out the spices, the Tabasco, the brown sugar and the chicken stock and make sure the beer and is handy
Drain the beans
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high. When hot, add the diced tenderloin and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. You’ll need to work in two batches. Transfer tenderloin to a large platter. [Note, if you’re substituting ground meat, see below]
Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the ground beef and pork to the Dutch oven and brown over high – about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the ground meet to the platter.
Pour off all by 2 tablespoons of fat from the Dutch oven. [If you have very lean meat, you made need to add oil]. Now add the onion, poblano, jalapeños and garlic and immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and cook about 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
Now stir in the spices and cook until about 2 minutes – you should be able to smell the spices.
Stir in the stock, the beer and the tomato sauce.
Simmer over medium until the tenderloin is very tender and the chili is deeply flavored – about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time. You might have to reduce the heat – you want a gentle simmer.
Stir in the beans, the brown sugar, the Tabasco and the chocolate and let the chili simmer another 5 minutes. It should be thick and strongly flavored.
Taste and correct seasonings, adding whatever you feel it needs – again, you’re looking for a highly-seasoned result.
You can serve immediately with the various fixings (see above). Or let the flavors develop for a few hours or days (at least 1 day) in the refrigerator.