Posts Tagged ‘chili

08
Aug
10

chile pies (& ice cream)

We met Julie at Chile Pies (& Ice Cream), at the corner of Baker and Fulton, for lunch today. Liza has been telling us about this place for a while, and we almost went last weekend–until Steve decided to cook us a French feast and I showed up with a chocolate hazelnut confection from Tartine. The desire to go out faded.

It turns out there’s a more full-service place called Green Chile Kitchen a block away at Baker and McAllister, and the menu looks good enough that I’m sure we’ll give it a try some day. But the draw to the smaller, simpler Chile Pies (& Ice Cream) was the Frito pie, served à la bag. Julie, child of health-food nuts, had never experienced such a thing; J-P and I both remembered it fondly from concession stands at football games.

I admired Chile Pies’ modular approach to Frito Pie. Three soup tureens, one with ground beef, one with beans, one with chili. You want vegetarian? They serve you from the latter two only. You want less spicy? I presume they leave off the chili. Instead of garnishing with Colby and pickled jalapeños, as is traditional at Texas sporting events, these pies were topped with cheese, sour cream, and pico (still legit), plus lettuce. The last was a stretch, we assumed a concession to Californian tastes. The chili would have been tastier if all the ingredients were simmered together, but it was still satisfying.

For dessert, Julie had lemon-butter pie with cardamom ice cream. J-P and I each had a slice of green-chile-and-apple pie (this is such a good idea!), he with lemon cookie ice cream, me with cardamom ice cream, both with red-chile honey on top.

18
Jun
10

the pressure cooker’s maiden voyage

That’s the pressure cooker, building up pressure to make passable black beans in about 20 minutes. They weren’t as falling-apart tender as I would have liked, but that can be fixed with more time under pressure. Fifteen minutes, instead of 12, next time. Maybe 20 if I didn’t think to soak them, like I did today. This device cut my bean cooking time down to an eighth of what it normally is. I am in love.

The beans went into a chili that involved half a pound of ground turkey, an onion, an anaheim, one chipotle in adobo, two tomatoes, three zucchinis, as well as the usual garlic, red chili powder, cumin, and salt. If I do it again, I’ll cook the beans longer, use more salt and a couple more chilis, and add a little Maseca to thicken it. Minor adjustments. It was very good, and very fast.

19
May
10

diner chili

Lest you think my Texas Red relies too much on canned and otherwise preserved foods, let me share my method for vegetarian diner chili. (I did say vegetarian chilis were a whole nother thing, didn’t I?)

You’ll need:
cooking fat
1 sweet yellow onion; chopped medium
4 cloves garlic; minced
1 can (abt 15 ounces) each of red, black, and pinto beans; drained
1 similarly sized can diced tomatoes with green chiles; undrained
some spicy tomato/vegetable juice
several tablespoons chili powder
a teaspoon or so ground comino
pickled jalapeños, chopped medium
salt

Chop the onion medium and soften in hot fat. Add the minced garlic for a minute or two before you add the beans, tomatoes, and juice. Add the spices, jalapeños, and salt to taste. Let simmer about half an hour. Serve with the usual accoutrement: grated cheese, chopped scallions, saltines.

18
May
10

My Texas Red Algorithm

There are two reasons I don’t make chili very often. One is that it takes a honking lot of beef, the other is that I always remember it as being harder than it is. There’s no solving the former problem (vegetarian chilis are a whole nother thing), but recording my method can solve the latter, and keep it from feeding back into the infrequency of my chili-making. So.

Thaw 1-1.5 pounds ground beef. Assess its fattiness. Heat an appropriate amount of fat in a stockpot or Dutch oven. (This weekend I used about a tablespoon duck fat, in the stock pot, as the Dutch oven needed reseasoning.)

Soften two medium-sized sweet yellow onions, chopped medium, in the fat. Add one large ancho/pasilla (long, wide, green, moderate heat) pepper, chopped medium. Add six-ish cloves of garlic, minced, and the ground beef. When the beef starts to look cooked, add 3-4 tablespoons of San Antonio chile powder from Central Market. When you’re just about ready to add tomatoes, first add two teaspoons ground comino and one teaspoon dried oregano. Then add two 15-ounce-ish cans of diced tomatoes, juice and all. It’s ok if they have (appropriate) flavorings–this weekend, I used one can with green chiles (Muir Glen brand, aka Hippie Rotel) and one with roasted garlic.

Once the tomatoes have been added, throw in a couple cloves more minced garlic. Add about half the chiles from a 12-ounce can of chipotles in adobo, and most of the adobo. Keep adding adobo and chile powder until the stew is as spicy as you like and the right color–a deep, serious red. Taste for salt–the adobo has a lot, so you won’t need much. And add just a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder, which mellows things and marries the flavors. I’m not kidding.

Let this simmer down. Meanwhile, someone has been making cornbread according to J-P’s algorithm, and someone else has been grating a mound of cheddar, colby, or jack cheese. Serve the three together, et voilà–dinner.

07
May
10

A Tex-Mix Manifesto

What exactly is Tex-Mix, besides a cute term I came up with for my own household cuisine?

Tex-Mix uses the Tex-Mex flavor base in preparations from other cuisines. Tex-Mix cuts bagna cauda with lime juice, eats hummus with jalapeños and tortilla chips, and adds canned tomatoes with chiles to French lentil ragouts. Tex-Mix puts comino in its candied sweet potatoes. Tex-Mix thinks Moosewood’s bulgur-based vegetarian chili is clever. Tex-Mix was spiking its brownies with cayenne long before Mexican chocolate was cool. Tex-Mix takes garlic for granted.

Tex-Mix plugs elements of other cuisines into the forms that define Tex-Mex. Tex-Mix swoons over Lebanese quesadillas and amardeen margaritas. Tex-Mix wonders about tamales filled with smoked duck and cherry demiglace. Tex-Mix even enjoys a broccoli and tofu burrito with Thai peanut sauce—sometimes.

But bland grilled veggie wraps are right out. And Tex-Mix would never dream of emptying that undercooked zucchini into a bowl with some hard black beans and a dollop of fat-free sour cream and calling the result Mexican. Whether its food is good for its health is not Tex-Mix’s main concern. Tex-Mix gets enough exercise. If Tex-Mix leaves out the lard, it’s probably because duck fat seemed tastier in that recipe.

Tex-Mix doesn’t care if duck fat isn’t authentic. In fact, Tex-Mix doesn’t care if it is. (The Mexica had Muscovy ducks, after all). Tex-Mix loves pickled jalapeños, flour tortillas, and pinto beans. It took Guatemala to teach Tex-Mix the joys of fully cooked black beans. It’s not self-conscious atavism but the need for a bitter note that puts cocoa powder into Tex-Mix’s Texas Red. That chili makes a great Frito pie, by the way. It’s also terrific over vermicelli—that’s not Cincinatti, that’s la abuelita’s home cooking. What’s more, esta abuela puts peanut butter in her mole, and has never touched a metate. But her cooking is absolutely authentic.

Tex-Mix loves and respects its grandmother, but it didn’t learn all its recipes from her. Did you? There’s no getting around it: Tex-Mix is mixed. (Before that was cool, too.) Tex-Mix owns it. Tex-Mix understands that innovation and eating what you like are as important to cuisine as tradition and eating what you know. Tex-Mix is not humble. Tex-Mix avers that it improves on its grandmother. Tex-Mix has a broad palate, and Tex-Mix knows how to cook.