Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Chili Experiment

I’ll cook it so you don’t have to. Results will follow.


Occasionally I like to stick my neck out and try something new. Call it culinary research. New recipes are always an adventure but I can look at a new one and quickly tell if it is worth my time and effort. One important qualifier, it has to have meat as the main ingredient.

We have numerous chili recipes and few get the nod when it comes time to enjoy the best and most trusted comfort food when it counts.

Today the outdoor temps never made it onto the 60’s. Comfort food weather time is here. One chili recipe that recently caught my eye came in an annual award issue of Bon Appetite magazine. Two things stood out among the usual chemistry experiment instructions known as the combination of herbs and spices and variety of exotic peppers and liquids such as broth, beer and/or tequila.

The first is that it called for beef brisket, not the point cut but the flat or first cut specifically.

The second was instructions for cooking the ingredients in a covered cast iron pot in the oven at 350 degrees for hours.

For those who don’t know this is a cooking technique called braising. Most chili recipes call for simmering on the stovetop for liquid reduction in order to condense the flavors. Why not give this method a try?


Braising is simply putting browned meat into the covered pot with other sautéed veggie ingredients and allowing it to bake in the oven low and slow. With this technique any tough meat is completely tenderized and the fat is rendered in such a way that it permeates every bit of solid food mass. The result is a flavorful bowl of lusciousness. It works. Think crock pot.

The first clue to a great recipe is to render a half pound of diced bacon in a large cast iron pot, in my opinion, the enamel coated Le Creuset brand is best in class. HAWWWW! Add bacon fat, onions, garlic and browned meat. YES!!

This recipe called for a slurry of spices, herbs and liquids (beer is one) to be added before tossing the pot into a 360 degree oven.

One ingredient causes some concern. Butternut squash. I am not a squash fan. Who knows? She likes squashy things, I don’t. We’ll see. I can always pick mine out of the bowl and feed it to Speck.

Getting ready for a big Sox game right now. The Bacardi is going down fast. Gotta’ slow down if I want to see the celebration. This should be good.


UPDATE 1

This is not chili as you know it. It’s more of a stew with a hell of a lot of flavor. Unbelievably tender meat. I dusted my bowl with cayenne powder to give it some zip. The squash is more like sweet potato. Not bad at all.

HOLD ON! Thome hit a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh! Sox lead 1-0.

Back to my bowl. Most chili I make has a lot of gravy, sauce it you will. This one has no traditional chili flavor cues like chili powder, cumin and heat. It’s drier but the beefy flavor makes it worth the effort.

Next time I know what to do. Improvisational culinary instincts will take over. It is well worth making again.

HOLD ON! Bottom of the eighth inning and the Sox turn a double play. Hope this is over soon. Think I will have another bowl of red, and another rum head banger.


UPDATE 2

BOBBY JENKS TIPS IT IN!

SOX WIN, SOX WIN, SOX WIN!

DANKS. THOME. JENKS!

They earned this one too. So long Twinkies. Bring on the (Devil ) Rays!

Screw you Cubs. Bring on the White Sox post-season!!!!

All bets are off.

Hope my more than loud fireworks display disturbed the neighbors.

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