Clearly this is not for the vegetarians among you. If you are one, perhaps now is the time to go look at something else…
Are you still with me? Good, now, lets talk about meaty chili goodness!
I know most of you probably make chili using ground beef or turkey, but we won’t be doing that. What I used might make this the most expensive pot of chili you have ever made. What I used is a piece of beef called the chain. The chain is a strip of meat that is located next to the tenderloin. It is pretty similar as far as tenderness and flavor, but because it is wrapped in fat and connective tissue it is rarely eaten except as ground beef. You can’t buy chains* in the store so I would suggest a chuck roast, and cut it into cubes. Since you will be simmering this for a while you will end up with nice tender meat by the time the chili is ready.
This wasn’t originally going to be chili. I’m not sure what I was making, exactly, but I had a few ideas in mind. As I gathered ingredients it sort of became obvious that it was, in fact, chili.
2# beef chuck cut into cubes
1 TBSP achiote paste
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large onion diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large poblano, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
25 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups cooked black beans
salt and pepper to taste
ground cumin, corriander, dry oregano to taste
3 bay leaves
ancho chili powder to taste
The first step is to get the meat marinating. Combine the achiote, oil, salt and pepper, and mix them into a smooth paste. Add your cubed meat. I used the cryovac machine at work to seal this up, and left it in the fridge overnight. Obviously a ziplock bag would do almost as well. At this point you should also cook your beans. Drain them and cool them in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook, gather all of your ingredients. We are going to start with the meat. Heat some vegetable oil in a large pot, and add the meat. Lightly brown the meat, and add the onions, peppers and garlic, and a little salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened, and then add the tomatoes and stock. Bring up to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and season to taste with salt, pepper, ancho powder, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, and oregano. Allow your chili to simmer, and add the beans after an hour or so. Taste it after a while and adjust the seasonings if you need to. If it is to acidic you can add a little bit of honey. That will help balance things out. Give it a couple of hours to simmer, and enjoy. This is not going to be a spicy chili, but it is tasty! If you like it spicy there are lots of possibilities, for instance chipotle peppers would be nice in place of the ancho chilies while still giving you a nice smoky flavor.
This chili was a huge hit at work, and I think it will be for you as well. There are plenty of things you can tweak, but this should get you started. Enjoy it! I know I did!
*In the course of day to day prep at work we do some butchering, and end up with scraps that are perfectly edible. The chain falls into that category. The only way to get chains is to buy beef tenderloin PSMO (peeled, silver skin, side meet on or pismo). To make this chili you would probably need three chains. Of course if you like filet mignon or chateaubriand this will save you quite a bit of money. The less processed the meat the less expensive it tends to be. The last time I went to the store pismos were $19.99/pound, and filet mignon were $23.99. Breaking down PSMO’s takes a bit of practice, and time. It is certainly something you can do, but you do need a sharp knife, and the time to do it.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I am a fan of Eric Ripert. Amy and I picked up a Roku for streaming movies and whatever else not too long ago, and on one of the channels I found his show Avec Eric. I had seen an episode or two of the show before, but now I can watch to my heart’s content. I started with an episode kind of at random, and saw a dish that sounded fantastic. It ended up being somewhat similar to the Poulet Basquaise that I made a while back, and still make from time to time. There were, of course, some significant differences as well. Some of the things went against the ideas I had about wine and food. I figured that Eric Ripert knows what he is doing, and I would go along with what he said. In this case red wine and fish together? Yes, yes indeed!
I frequently don’t follow recipes exactly. I do if it is something I am not familiar with, but if I have a fair idea of where things are headed I tend to fudge amounts, but follow the method and actual ingredients. Doing this also makes it very easy for me at least to adjust quantities to fit the number of people eating, so that I don’t have half a bell pepper laying around when I’m done cooking.
The recipe I had goes like this:
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup small diced Serrano ham
½ cup small diced red bell
½ cups small diced yellow bell
1 cup tomato, peeled, seeded
1 teaspoon chopped fresh
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
– fine sea salt and freshly
– Espelette pepper or cayenne
That is not exactly what I did of course. Mine ended up more like:
1 medium onion diced medium fine
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red bell pepper medium fine dice
1 orange bell pepper medium fine dice
4 roma tomatoes seeded, medium fine dice
1 TBSP thyme
red wine (I didn’t measure, it might have ended up a cup)
Parsley, fresh chopped
salt and pepper
salt and white pepper
fresh thyme sprigs
2 cloves of garlic, halved
Got everything ready to go? Ok, in a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Then add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook over medium heat until clear. Add the bell peppers, and cook until nearly tender and add the tomato and thyme. Cook until the tomatoes are almost tender and add the wine. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Simmer to reduce (don’t forget to stir from time to time) to almost a jam consistency, and stir in the parsley.
Now we can tackle the cod… Season it on both sides with salt, white pepper and cayenne. Heat a skillet, and add the canola oil. Start with the skin side up and sear the cod. Put in the garlic and thyme sprigs in the pan with the fish. Now, here is a place where this can go wrong. Once you put the fish in the pan DO NOT touch it! The fish will be stuck, and if you try to force it you’ll just make a mess. Leave it alone for a couple of minutes, with the heat on medium. Gently poke the fish, and if it scoots a little you can flip it. Be gentle with it. Flipping things too quickly can get you burned pretty easily. I know it is a bit counter-intuitive, but go slowly. Move the garlic and thyme, and get your spatula under a piece of fish, then hold it on the spatula as you flip it over, and place the garlic and thyme on top of the fish. Continue cooking over medium heat until the fish is cooked through. To test this take a metal skewer and insert it into the thickest part of the fish, and leave it there for about 5 seconds. When you pull it out it should feel warm when you touch it to your lip.
To plate this up I put some of the sauce on the plate, and place the fish on top. We decided to have some roasted potatoes with dinner that evening. This was an amazing dinner, and I can’t wait to make it again!
Ok, so this dinner has its genesis in a couple of places. The first was a truly disappointing tamale pie I had from a well known manufacturer of organic foods. I don’t have a big problem with the fact that it was vegan, but it didn’t taste like anything at all. I really liked the idea, but the execution didn’t do anything for me. Then, I had some leftover chicken. I had cut up a chicken to make dinner a couple of nights ago, and we only ate the breasts. This left wings, thighs, and legs to use. Amy doesn’t care for them much, so they needed to be handled in a way that would make it less obvious what we were eating. The truth is this would be a great way to use up leftover beans, and rice as well as chicken. On the other hand since I was cooking the chicken, beans and rice I could season everything exactly the way I wanted it for this dish. I guess what you do will depend on what you have laying around, and what state it is in.
1/2 cup dry black beans soaked over night
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 large onion finely diced
2 chicken leg quarters, cut into leg and thigh
salt and pepper
1/2 cup rice (uncooked)
1/2 large onion finely diced (yes, the other half!)
2 cloves garlic
1 poblano pepper finely diced
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1 can enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso. They have a very strict policy on labeling for gluten containing ingredients)
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free corn bread mix
1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil or melted butter
Obviously you should soak your beans ahead of time to cut down on the cooking time. Combine the first half of the onion and garlic with the black beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until tender. Just fish one out and try it. If it is not tender give it a little longer.
While the beans are cooking, preheat the oven to 350F. Season the chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and paprika, and bake until cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool a bit, and pull the meat off the bone, and chop into small pieces.
Cook your rice. This is a fairly easy step, I just made some plain white rice for this.
In a large skillet sweat the second half of the onions and garlic until tender, add a little salt to draw out moisture, and help move this along. Then add the poblano and bell peppers, and sweat until they are tender. Add the chicken, beans, rice and enchilada sauce, and bring the mix up to a boil, and then simmer for a few minutes. Stir frequently. Pour this mixture into a 13×9 inch pan. Turn the oven up to 375F.
Prepare the cornbread mix according to the directions on the package, and then spread on top of the chicken and bean mixture. Try to spread it as thinly and evenly as possible. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cornbread is golden brown on top and the filling of the pie is bubbling, and hot.
I ate mine topped with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, and a nice gluten-free beer! It was a great dinner, and the kind of thing that is even better the next day!
Now of course if you wanted to make this vegetarian you could just leave out the chicken, there is protein already with the beans, and you could even add some squash and zucchini or whatever other veggies you wanted to. This kind of dish gives you lots of options to make things your own. Hope you enjoy it!
As far as my food preferences go I tend to like spicy food, although not all the time. One of my favorite things before going gluten-free was to go get Chinese at one of several local carry-out places. One of my go to dishes was General T’so’s chicken, spicy, and sweet is one of the flavor combinations that I really dig. As we know, Chinese food is generally off limits due to soy sauce. Needless to say, I was bummed. PF Chang’s and its sister Pei Wei have made our lives a little easier as far as Chinese carry-out. After trying the Spicy chicken at Pei Wei I decided I had found a suitable replacement for General T’so! Not quite the same, but it will do. After a few trips I recently realized that not only did I like it, but I was pretty sure I could come up with my own version for a lot less money, and cut out the trip.
This is going to be a bit of a multi-step thing, but they are easy. First thing you need to do is make your sauce. For most cuisines there are sort of base flavors that are commonly used. If you look at a lot of recipes of French dishes you will spot mirepoix which is simply 2 parts onion diced, and then one part each of celery and carrots. This becomes the trinity in cajun cooking be replacing the carrots with green peppers. Lemongrass and galangal are common in Thai dishes, and in Chinese garlic and ginger. I took the garlic and ginger as a base flavor, and built my sauce from there. Here’s what I came up with:
1 1/4 cup orange juice + lime juice to bring the total to 1 1/3 cup
1 TBSP sambal
1 TBSP honey
1 clove ginger crushed
1 quarter inch thick slice of ginger root
Place everything in a pot, and bring it up to a boil. Then take 1 TBSP of corn starch, and combine with enough orange juice to make a slurry. With the pot still boiling add the slurry while whisking. You don’t want clumps so, be sure you are mixing it while you pour. Remove it from the heat, and cool. Keep this in the fridge till you are ready to finish the dish. Really, that was it!
The next thing I did was get all of the other ingredients prepped. I had four chicken breasts, because I wanted leftovers for lunch for the next few days at work. I also had some broccoli, carrot, and yellow bell pepper. The chicken was cut into bite sized cubes, the broccoli I cut into florets, and the yellow pepper and carrot I sliced thinly.
From here this dish came together pretty much like my last stir-fry chicken post. Start with the chicken, and sauté until cooked nearly through. Then add the veggies, and cook until they are tender. Add the sauce to the pan, and stir to combine, and coat everything. Serve over rice, and enjoy! If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, substitute tofu for the chicken, but remember to get the firmest you can otherwise it will break up while you try to sauté it.
A little bit of analysis: Dinner was very tasty, but… not quite right. It was fairly mild, and not quite sweet enough. It was also not quite thick enough. I still have about half the sauce left, and I think my next step will be to add a bit more honey, sambal, and thicken the sauce a little bit more. It was fun to take a shot at reverse engineering a recipe from only tasting eating it. I’m on the right path, so I’ll keep going a little further. This was a little bit of a challenge just due to the fact that there is a fair amount going on in the sauce.
I hope that my experiment inspires you to see what you can do in the kitchen. All it takes is paying attention to what you are eating, and taking a shot at replicating what you taste. Remember that there is more to what you eat than just the taste. There is flavor, scent, and texture. See how close you can get!
If there is anything you would like me to take a shot at reply here, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to hear from you guys!
Tonight, A and I decided that we wanted some stir-fry. Although what I make is in no way authentic (and which of you has had authentic Chinese food? Not me.) it is pretty tasty. This is also a very easy thing to tweak. We both had plenty to eat, and all we need is some rice, and we can eat leftovers, and be quite happy.
Piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 or two cloves Garlic minced
Bell Pepper julienned
Carrots Cut in half, and thinly sliced on the bias (I cut them in a strange way tonight, because A wanted to see how I did it.)
8 oz. Snow peas
1 pound of chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
The sauce I use as a basis is a San-J’s Gluten Free Sweet & Tangy Polynesian glazing and dipping sauce.
I adjust it a bit with some sambal oelek to taste. Sambal oelek is a chili sauce, for the most part, it is chilies a little vinegar, and a little salt. Simple stuff, but it adds some nice heat, and balances the sweetness of the sauce. Depending on your tastes you could also add a bit of gluten-free soy sauce.
3/4 cup GF Sweet & Tangy sauce
2 Tbsp sambal
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Finely dice the ginger and mince the garlic. Keep these together. Cut the other veggies, and place in a bowl so they are ready to go. Cube the chicken, you want the pieces small enough to cook fairly quickly. The end of your thumb should be about the max on that.
Next, make your sauce, and taste it. It should be a little salty, sweet, and spicy. I pretty much don’t use any salt or pepper with this, and I have never had a complaint!
Heat a large skillet and some canola oil. You want your skillet to be good and hot when you put the food in. Not sure if the oil is hot enough? Here’s how you can tell. Pick up the skillet, and gently tilt it. The oil will flow easily, and you should see some ripples. I’ll wait. You want it very hot. This goes pretty fast!
First pour in the garlic and ginger, and saute them. This won’t take long at all, and you will start to smell it when it is ready. Next, in goes the chicken, shrimp, tofu, pork, whatever you have. Keep it moving! Once the chicken is cooked almost through add the vegetables. Keep the contents of the skillet moving. Once the veggies are cooked about as much as you want add the sauce and stir it through, it will thin out and coat everything in the skillet and give you a nice sauce. Serve over rice, and enjoy!
You could put almost anything in that you want. Broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage, squash, zucchini, whatever veggies you like. As far as the chicken, what do you want to put in? Its totally up to you.
So, there you have it. I’m sure you’ll like it, and hopefully you can work it into your busy weeks dinner sometime!