Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chef Salad Ala Beverly & Meat Buying


I mentioned in the BLT post last Wednesday that Bev makes great sandwiches, in part, because she’s willing to go the extra mile to make it special. While she does this with most of the things she cook’s, the other dish she is renowned for in our family is her salads. This is the one we ate for lunch after the breakfast BLT and in addition to the hard boiled eggs that she made just for the salad, it had lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, cherry tomatoes, Canadian bacon, Cabot sharp cheddar, and Thousand Island dressing made from the Waldorf Astoria’s recipe.

As the story goes, 1000 Island Dressing is believed to have been initially invented by fishing guides in the 1000 Island region (hence the name) of the St Lawrence River, where it was served to fishermen on a wedge of lettuce along with deep fried fatback sandwiches for lunch. It then came into the hands of the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who’s chef refined it and put it on their menu and they rest is history. I think I’ve posted the recipe before, but here it is again and it only vaguely resembles those from a bottle (which I don’t care for but love this one).

Waldorf–Astoria Hotel via Saveur Magazine, No 68

Makes 1 ¾ cups

1 ½ cup Mayonaise
3 Tbsp Heinz chili sauce
2 Tbsp Sweet onion –finely chopped
2 Tbsp Sweet pickle – finely chopped
1 tsp Sweet pickle juice
1 tsp Pimentos – finely chopped
To taste Salt
To taste Ground black pepper

Stir all ingredients until well combined.

If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try, even if you don’t like the dressing normally – just make up a small sample batch.

In the recent past, I’ve posted about buying whole packer steak cuts, carving them ourselves, putting in Foodsaver bags, and sticking them in the freezer. Over the years, we’ve bought meat just when we wanted to have it for dinner and we’ve bought whole or half beefs, and we’ve finally found what works best for us. When a store, who’s meat we like and trust, runs a good special, we stock up on what we’ll eat in the next six months and put it in the freezer. This way, it won’t have it stay in the freezer for an extended period, we only get the cuts we want (I don’t eat that much beef liver), and we think it actually turns out to be cheaper than a half beef. In talking with the local butcher, I’ve learned that the come-on price advertised in their weekly flyer, such as 98 cent/lb pork butt, is being sold at their cost, just to get us in the store.

The nearest market to us generally carries select grade beef only, so I never buy steak from them, but we’ve found their ground beef to always be outstanding. So when they ran a ground chuck special for $1.78 per pound, we bought 20#, put it in 1# and 2 # packages and put in the freezer.

I use this same purchasing system for my BBQ meat and it works very well for me. I know this is pretty basic info for most folks who cook, but I thought there might be a nugget for a person or two.

The title photo is of the Smoky Mountains shot from my neighbor-on-the-hill's yard.

Have a great day and I enjoy your comments.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Blogger Award For Me ?

Emily over at Marvelous Recipes has favored me with the Kreativ Blogger award. I’m always flattered when people actually read what I have to say and I’m flabbergasted that someone thinks my ramblings are worthy of an award – especially when I compare it to the others I read. Thank you Emily. Be sure to check her blog for a new recipe nearly every day.

The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Post the award. (Soon as I learn how)
2. Thank and mention the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to seven bloggers who you think embody the spirit of the Kreativ Blogger Award.
4. Name seven things about yourself that others don’t know.
5. Don’t forget to notify the seven Kreativ Bloggers about their award and post a link to their blog.

The hardest part for me was to only give it to seven others as I would rather have given it to a dozen of you.

I’m sending it on to:
Chez at Fat Johnny's Front Porch
Jeanie at Cowgirl's Counrty Life
Chris at Nibble Me This
Mary at Deep South Dish
Lee Ann at Mangos, Chili and Z
George at A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse
Steph at Plain Chicken

Since I say way too much on my blog, I had to think hard to come up with seven things about me that are worth knowing that I haven't already shared.

1. I’ve always been a control freak, but after a lot of hard work I’m a little better.
2. Bev and I recently had our 25th wedding anniversary – and both forgot it.
3. I’ve always been able to play most sports decently but was never great at any of them.
4. While I dislike soap opera type TV shows, during my senior year in college, I got home around 3pm everyday and got hooked on General Hospital.
5. I was the first person in my family to go to college and felt an incredible pressure to succeed.
6. My dream career would have been to have my own successful restaurant and a farm where I raised most of the things I served.
7. My dream retirement was to move to Summit County Colorado, with good health and enough money to not have to work, and be a ski bum – but have a job as a shuttle bus driver or lift operator so I couldn’t be called one.

So now that I’ve done this, I have one question – who started the award. I looked around on line and couldn’t find an answer.

Have a great day and please be sure you've read he post below this one.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Let’s Throw A Blogger’s Party, Can You Come

Katherine from Smoky Mountain Cafe, Chris from Nibble Me This, and I, would like to host a little get together for the local bloggers – you’re considered local if you’re willing to make the drive. We’re thinking in terms of a Saturday afternoon sometime from mid May through mid June at Larry’s place near Greenback Tn. There are many details to work out, but at this point, we’re just trying to determine interest level and find a good date. We’re not looking for a firm commitment now, but if you think you would be interested in participating, please email one of us with the Saturdays beginning with May 15 and ending with June 19 for which you are NOT, repeat NOT, able to come. We can then see which dates can accommodate the most people. We’d like to hear back from you by March 10.

Check out Chris’s site for a neat pic of the get together site.

The three of us along with Chris’s wife Alexis, met for the first time today for lunch today at Dead End BBQ in Knoxville, to get the party ball rolling. It was nice to meet the others and put people with the words I read – I’d like to be able to do that with all of you. This was only my second trip to Dead End and the meal was very good again. I’ve followed their performance on the competition circuit and notice they seem to score well in chicken, so I ordered the chicken plate. My home BBQ’d chicken is good, but this was the first restaurant BBQ I’ve eaten at where I would say I have some work to do to catch up- and I ate theirs without any sauce.

I don’t have the camera to do it justice, but the title shot is of the Smoky Mountains taken from my neighbor-on-the-hills yard on Friday afternoon. It’s not the Rockies in winter, but not a bad view for East Tennessee.

Have a great evening.


Pinto Beans, Cornbread, And Taters

Every now and then, we just have to whip up something really fancy – and last night was the night. As a kid in northern West Virginia, the favorite dried bean around our house were navy beans and they were referred to as soup beans and usually served with white bread. We occasionally had pinto beans and they were called brown beans and usually served with cornbread. Both were often sided with fried potatoes and that was the meal. I’ve had fried potatoes and I’ve had dried beans, but I can’t remember the last time I had them together. So for dinner last night, we used the ever fancy and expensive bean variety pictured below.

They were picked through, soaked over night, then rinsed and cooked all afternoon with a nice smoked ham hock.

We like to keep a supply of both russet and waxy potatoes on hand and the other day they were on the store list. When I ran over to the local place, I saw they had both on sale so I bought two bags of each and while Bev was at the store, she remembered potatoes on the list and bought a bag of each. We obviously need to eat some taters, so I have an excellent reason to recreate this childhood meal.

Mom used a cast iron skillet and bacon grease, but I fried up some of the potatoes in a non stick skillet using olive oil and just a little bacon grease and added some onion and sweet peppers – Mom never added peppers as Dad didn’t like them. I cook them with a lid on until about done, then take it off so I can get a little crust on them - have to be careful with the onions and peppers at this point though. They are almost done in the title pic.

Bev made up a 12” cast iron skillet of cornbread using the Three Rivers recipe. I didn’t grow up eating cornbread except with beans, and I really like it, but only under two conditions – hot out of the oven or covered with some type of hot liquid. If I’m served a room temperature corn muffin with a meal, it goes uneaten unless I can incorporate it into the meal – crumble in a bowl of chili for example.

Here’s a shot of my plate as I’ve always eaten the beans and cornbread - soupy enough to soak in the cornbread and topped with a little chopped onion.

I have eaten some pretty fancy and high dollar meals, but I’d have a hard time saying I enjoyed them any more than this. It’s hard to beat the basics I grew up on.

Have a great day and I hope those of you in the Northeast are faring okay with the new snow storm.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

English Muffins - First Try

I really like English muffins and used to be able to buy pretty nice ones in the store. I still buy them, but always complain about the mashed condition they always seem to be in – they’d be perfect for paninni egg mcmuffins. I spoke with the baker in the family and she agreed to try making a batch of homemade ones using a recipe from the Culinary Institute Of America . I liked it because it had less sugar than the others I found and here are a few pics of the process. This is the dough after raising.

Bev made up the bread and after raising, it weighed 24 ounces, so since it was to make 12 muffins, she cut it into 2 ounces pieces. I pattied out the muffins and may have got them a little thin. Here they are in the pan of cornmeal ready for fry/baking and a first one as a test on the griddle.

When we bought our cook top, it came with a double burner griddle, which rarely gets used for just the two of us, but comes in very handy for jobs like this. It’s non-stick so I sprayed with Pam to add a little oil. Here they are on side one and then on side two. As I understand it, they are essentially being baked on the griddle one side at a time.

The finished product.

After finishing, I split one, toasted it and ate half with a little butter and half with butter and jelly – just to try it. I liked the flavor – not too sweet as I was looking for. As with most English muffins, they got crispy but didn’t show the effects of the toaster.

I generally liked the way they turned out for the first try and look forward to eating these so we can make another batch. I think we may have let the yeast work too much in the ball so they didn’t raise as much as I expected as individual muffins or they just needed to raise longer - the weren't as thick and light as I was hoping for. Any English muffin recipe’s or advice would be appreciated.

So here’s the breakfast I’ve been looking forward to – Egg McMuffin Ala Larry. It’s a split and lightly toasted homemade muffin, with homemade Canadian bacon topped with Cabot sharp cheddar after flipping, and an egg cooked in a ring. I cooked them both in the same pan and with a lid on and the steam from the meat helped the egg cook quickly and without the need to flip.

And here's the finished sandwich and I'll have to say it was nearly as good as McDonalds :). Next time I'll jazz up the eggs a little, but wanted to make a direct comparison this morning.

I originally thought I wanted the muffins to be bigger around, but they seem to be just right for the egg ring.

Have a great day.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BLT For Breakfast

Sorry about not posting anything yesterday- had nothing of interest to write about. As retirees, Bev and I are able to enjoy flexible sleeping habits, but in general I go to bed in the 9-10pm range and get up 5-6am, while Bev turns in around 11pm and gets up 8:30-9am. So it was unusual, and a pleasant surprise, when she wandered out this morning at 7:45 donned in her stay-up clothes. For breakfast, I fix my own before she gets up about half the time and wait for her to get up to fix it the rest of the time.

I had already decided what I was going to fix for myself today and had already been working on my blog article. That all went out the window though as the smell of bacon was soon permeating the house and as I was leaving to take Alex to school, she advised she was in the mood for a BLT and I said, I’ll have that – my mama didn’t raise no dummies. Bev is the sandwich queen as she’ll always go the extra mile to make them special.

At Almost Heaven South, a BLT nearly always includes a fried egg, so it perhaps should be called a fried egg sandwich with bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato and in this case a slice of Cabot cheddar and of course some mayo all between two slices of homemade bread. Rather than prattling on – a picture is worth a thousand words.

What I planned to eat would have been good, but not sure it could have topped this.

While winter has returned, our wildflower patch will soon look like the title photo. Have a great day and I enjoy your comments.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Stretching A Dollar Brisket

When I was growing up, my mom knew how to stretch a piece of meat, as many people did in the 50’s – they were children of the great depression. My dad was a factory worker so we didn’t grow up poor, but we were far from wealthy, so making good use of resources was just a way of life. Little was wasted and things were repaired rather than being tossed and replaced with a new one. One of mom’s favorites was to buy a big piece of chuck roast for several meals. The first meal was pot roast with carrots and onions cooked in it, and almost always with mashed potatoes and gravy (from the pan juices). The next meal would be hot roast beef sandwiches with any leftover potatoes and veggies – this only required the addition of bread for another meal. If there was still meat left, it would be diced and go into a pot with newly added diced potatoes and onions, covered with water and made into a soupy concoction she called hash (imagine my confusion the first time I was served real hash). This was served in a bowl or in my case over bread slices. I wouldn’t swear to it, but there may have also been a cold roast beef sandwich for lunch in there as well. Needless to say, she had bought a pretty big roast and likely paid a quarter per pound or less for it.

I wasn’t necessarily trying to accomplish this with the brisket I smoked the other day, but now that it’s about gone, our usage of it brought back these memories. First it was made into brisket chili for dinner, then a bowl for lunch twice, then the chili shepherds pie and finally chili pie made our normal way Link – pour cornbread batter into dish, top with chili and bake, allowing the cornbread to float to the surface – I suggested we just finish the chili off as soup, but Bev said she loved chili pie and so it happened. I have to admit, it’s pretty hard to beat. I probably paid $20 for the piece of brisket at Sam’s Club and for the two of us (Alex won’t eat tomato sauce dishes), we’ve had about 9 meals and there are at least 2 servings of chili pie for lunch or dinner today – fortunately we’re good leftover eaters, but I think I’m good on chili for a while. Here’s a pic of the chili pie for this go round.

As the economy staggers around and we’re unsure where things will be in the near future (and already now for some), I worry that there are way to many in the generations after us Baby Boomers who have no concept of how to function like this and I sure hope they don’t have to find out. That’s my philosophizing for the day.

Remember the mashed potatoes and potato cakes I did a few days back, well there was just enough potatoes left the other day for one more big cake – two smaller ones would have been easier to keep together. I had to turn it into a breakfast meal so I had it with a couple of sunny side up eggs sitting on top of one of Bev’s mini buns and melted cheese. Somewhere along the line, someone did a great job of convincing me breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

It was so nice here yesterday that I actually had the front door open for a couple of hours - but the weather person says winter will be back in a day or two. Have a great day and I enjoy your comments.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mama's Lasagna

Warning – this may be my longest ever post and italicized is the recipe from the cookbook - I put it in here as I don't know if it's available otherwise.

Bev has said she wanted a couple of meals before we tried anything else new and one of them is called Mama’s Lasagna from the “Jackson Hole A La Carte” cookbook that we’ve had for 15 or 20 years. It was published in 1986 by the Jackson Hole Alliance – a group of citizens who recognize the need for careful management of Jackson Hole’s resources. The recipes are from the group’s members and their friends from around the country.

We’ve only had this dish once and it was 10 years ago in Heidelberg, Germany. We were visiting our son and family who were stationed there with the U.S. Army. The women went off to a wives luncheon and left me at home with a 2 year old, a newborn and this lasagna to make. When they told the other ladies at the social event about it, I moved into hero status in their minds by looking after two small kids and cooking – I didn’t see the big deal as my mom, and many others, did that everyday. While the dish has several steps, it worked fine as I just put the kids down for their afternoon nap and put it together, then baked it when everyone got home for dinner. So anyway, I remember how good it was, but haven’t been inspired to make it due to the effort involved – I’m lazier than I was back then or maybe just older – but probably both.

Bev requested it and we decided to make it a joint effort for dinner on Saturday and invite a couple of friends over – the recipe says it makes two 9” square pans full. Basically, it involves making a marinara sauce, a white sauce, the noodle stuffing and assembly.

Marinara Sauce
1 cup Chopped onion
½ cup Finely chopped carrot (we did onion and carrot in food processor)
1 clv Garlic, minced
¼ cup Butter
1 can Italian style tomatoes & juice (28 oz)
½ cup Dry red wine
2 tbsp Chopped parsley
1 tbsp Dried basil
1 ea Bay leaf
1 tsp Dried oregano
1/8 tsp Dried thyme
½ tsp Sugar
To taste Salt and pepper
1 lb Ground chuck
½ lb Mushrooms, sliced
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and thinly sliced

1. In a heavy 3 qt saucepan, sauté the onion, carrot, and garlic until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, herbs, and seasonings. Simmer for 1 ½ hours, partially covered until sauce is thick.
2. Meanwhile, brown the chuck in a large skillet, add mushrooms and sauté until tender. Stir into the completed sauce along with the cooked sausage. Set aside.

We used some bulk homemade Italian sausage from the freezer and cooked it with the beef, then drained the grease. It didn’t specify so we used cremini mushrooms. This is the finished sauce - note it's pretty dry.

White Sauce
6 tbsp Butter
6 tbsp Flour
1 cup Milk
1 cup Whipping cream
½ tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Cayenne

Make a roux from the butter and flour, remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk and cream. When smooth, add the spices, return to heat and bring to a boil for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside with plastic wrap directly on the surface for skim prevention.

Lasagna Filling
2 cups Ricotta or cottage cheese
½ cup Shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup Shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup Grated parmesan
4 ea Egg yolks
2 tbsp Chopped green onion
1 tbsp Chopped parsley
1 clv Garlic, minced
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
1 lb Lasagna noodles, cooked al dente, drained and patted dry

I was proud of my normal anal-recipe-following-self by using 2 garlic cloves because I wanted more and deciding I had about the right amount of chopped parsley and green onion without measuring.

Combine all ingredients, except noodles, spread about 2 Tbsp of filling on each noodle and roll up jelly roll style – 18 rolls needed. I used a slightly rounded Tbsp measure for the filling and had enough for 20 noodles, so don’t overfill or you may run out. I found the best tool to spread the filling on the noodle was my index finger. Don’t spread it clear to the noodle edge and about ½” from the outside end, then roll them just tight enough to force it almost to the edges. Here’s the finished filling.

This is the stuffing process of my first one. I tried spreading the filling with the bottom of the measuring spoon, then discovered my finger and did a much more even job.

Here they are all rolled up.

To Assemble
1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter two 9”x9’x2” baking pans.
2. Spread ½ cup white sauce in bottom of each pan.
3. Place nine filled noodle rolls on end in each pan.
4. Top each pan of rolls with half the marinara, half the remaining white sauce, ¼ cup mozzarella, ¼ cup parmesan and 1 tbsp parsley.
5. Bake for about 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

I actually made it in one 9”x 9” pan and it all fit, although I should have probably used a 9”x 12”. I don’t remember what I used the first time, but there just isn’t enough stuff to fill two 9”x 9” pans. I put half the white sauce in the bottom, added the stuffed noodles and topped with the red sauce.

I then added the remainder of the white sauce, the mozzarella, and parsley and it was ready to bake. I held off on the top parmesan and grated it fresh on each serving.

The 35 minute baking time might be enough if it’s assembled and baked while everything is still warm, but starting out cold, it took over a hour and I baked it covered for about 30 minutes, but should have left it covered longer or waited to put the cheese on the top. Next time I'll time it to assemble and bake while everything is warm.

Each part or the entire dish can be made a day in advance as can the entire dish. I cooked the noodles and stuffed them, then made the white sauce while Bev was making the red sauce. I just covered everything while her sauce cooked. Then we assembled the dish and set it out in the cold garage until baking time.

While I’m sure these ingredients can be made into a lasagna dish without the effort of making the rolls, it would loose the uniqueness of the dish.

For sides, Bev decided to make up an antipasto type salad with lettuce, veggies, olives, meats and cheeses, but since our friends are southern, she offered it undressed with both homemade Italian and Thousand Island dressings. For mine it was Italian plus some anchovies and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano. She also made up a batch of garlic/cheese biscuits.

Here’s a couple of salad shots and it was outstanding. I haven’t had anchovies on a salad in a while.

The lasagna was very good, but different in that it is not as tomatoey as the traditional dish. One of our guests is not a big fan of tomato sauce so she loved it – I would have preferred more tomatoes, but it was a meat lovers delight. Here’s a shot of my plate – I couldn’t get them to stand on end.

It's gorgeous here again today, so have a great one where ever you are.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Diner Is Good Eats

Every now and then you stumble into a neat eating experience and it happened for us on Friday. I had made some repairs to a rocking chair for the grandkids and needed to get it back to them. A pretty convenient meet up place is the restaurant at Cove Lake State park in Caryville, Tn and we agreed on it unless they knew of a little dive in the area we could try. On the way to meet us, they past a BBQ place and a little place called The Diner. We opted for the BBQ, but as we drove past the diner at almost 3pm, I noticed the many cars in the lot, but there were none when we got to the BBQ place – we went back to the diner. Their sign, which was the bottom one of four on this sign post, claimed home cooking and when we got inside, again at 3 in the afternoon, the place was more than half full.

The specials were catfish, chicken potpie, and chicken tortilla soup – I looked over the menu but had already decided on the catfish. I received two large fillets of very nicely breaded and perfectly cooked (moist and flakey) fish, onion rings, a non-sweet hush puppy with an obvious garlic flavor, and some of the best slaw I’ve eaten. The others meals were equally good, even the grand daughters peanut butter and jelly sandwich looked pretty special.

I’ve always been a fan of seeking out the places where the locals go and I’m rarely disappointed. When on vacation, we’ve found we get directed to the tourist restaurants when we ask at the hotel, but when we ask at the gas station, we usually find the place with the best food at more reasonable prices. We go to Marco Island, Fl every year and ended up trying several tourist places before we settled on a sports bar as the place to eat.

I didn’t take any photos, but I love it when a spur of the moment turns out so well – given the opportunity, I’ll go back. As it turns out, Friday is catfish day at The Diner and all-you-can-eat after 4pm – but I had all I could eat plus as it was. Sure didn’t have to worry about Friday night dinner.

I think I'll leave the blue sky picture up for a couple of days - it looks the same today.

Have a great day.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Finally - Blue Sky

After so many days of dreariness, I couldn’t resist the urge to take these three pictures of nothing more than blue sky.

The other day was bread day at Almost Heaven South and I ask Bev to make up some small buns for a variety of uses, one of which was breakfast sandwiches.

I decided on a scrambled egg sandwich and discovered some Boursin Cheese which I spread on the split bread before toasting a little. The result was simple but very good.

Have a great day and I enjoy your comments


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shepherds Chili Pie

When I made the brisket chili Tuesday, my original plan was to use some of the meat in a brisket shepherds pie, but I decided I needed it all in the chili. However, I still had the garlic mashed potatoes from Sunday and still wanted to put them atop a meat dish, so I warmed some of them up in the micro wave with a little extra milk and topped a dish of preheated chili with them. Rather than thicken the chili, I just regulated the amount of liquid I put in the bowls so it would be firm enough to allow for spreading on the taters. I stuck them in a 350* oven for 15 minutes then added a little shredded cheese (didn’t have any green onions) and stuck back in the oven until the cheese melted and wal la – Shepherds Chili Pie or Chili Shepherds Pie or Pie of Chili’s Shepherd or whatever. I’m trying to emulate ole Chez over at Fat Johnny’s Front Porch who’s cooking style is to see what he has on hand and create something special from it. Here they are getting the Cabot cheddar cheese addition - yellow would have looked better, but this is what we had.

Here's my bowl just out of the oven.

This is my bowl after a couple of bites. As you can see, the chili is still pretty soupy, but it still worked well and tasted delicious - I'll definately do this again.

One final thought from watching the Olympics yesterday afternoon. I admit to being an old traditionalists who has always thought the Olympics were supposed to be athletic competitions, so I have a difficult time seeing sliding a rock down ice and walking along and sweeping the ice in front of it with brooms as an athletic competition – compared to the downhill or moguls or cross county skiing? The shuffleboard players and geriatric Olympians would likely yell h*** yes it is. I have similar thoughts on some of the summer events as well - badmitten? Aren’t blogs great? :)

Have a great day and I enjoy your comments.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brisket Chili On A Winter Day

I smoked a brisket the other day for making into chili – first time to make it with brisket and since Tuesday was supposed to be a cold, snowy day, it seemed like a good match. Many folks on the various BBQ forums I read rave about their brisket chili so I wanted to give it a try. I considered using an entirely different recipe, but since the purpose of this batch was to test brisket against our normal ground beef, I made no other changes. I also considered working on my taxes in my office downstairs, building a fire in the fireplace and making it in a Dutch oven using the free heat of the fireplace coals, but the working-on-my-taxes-part was a non-starter, so just made it on the stove.

I normally get up early and by mid afternoon, I’m usually ready to call it a day. But since this is prime dinner prep time, I’ve figured out I need to get the serious prep done early. So for today, I got all of the chopping done by noon so I could throw it all together around 3pm. I had about 2 1/2 pounds of smoked brisket which I diced into about 3/8” cubes, which took awhile. I’ve watched chili competitions where they seem to spend hours cutting up big pieces of meat in to precisely the same sized small pieces – I didn’t do that. I got all of the other ingredients ready to go as well so all I had to do was dump it together and adjust the seasonings.

Normally I would cook the meat (burger) about done and add the onions and peppers for a good saute prior to adding the other ingredients. But since the brisket was already cooked, I just sautéed the onion and peppers in a little olive oil and then added the brisket with the other ingredients.

At the end, I added a little salt and about 5 squirts of Sriracha for some heat – can always add more to the bowl. This turned out to be the thickest chili I’ve ever made and I really liked it - the chili powder and brisket flavors worked well together for me.

I know to the chili purest, beans are a no-no but for me lack of beans makes it tomato beef soup – guess it’s all about how you were raised. I will definitely make this again – one of the major differences is the texture of the have-to chew-it brisket vs the ground beef. If you want to try it give me a shout and I’ll smoke you a brisket – for pick up of course. This pic shows my bowl full topped with the lime-crema from Mangos, Chili and Z and I liked the effect it had. And the icing on the cake was that Beverly liked it both before and after the crema addition.

One of my chili highlights involves the powder. Several years ago, I came up with a complete chili (not chile) powder containing everything needed but salt and made from my homegrown peppers. A while back, I bought some chili powder from a rub maker who’s product I use a lot of and after giving it the smell test, I decided mine needed a lot of work. So we made a batch of chili with the purchased powder and ended up adding some of mine to fix the taste. I realize everyone’s tastes are different, but it was a feel good none the less. I thought about marketing mine, but what makes it unique is the homegrown and dried peppers which taste fundamentally different (better) than purchased and that would be more farming than I wanted to do. So I just make it for the kids and us and to give away at Christmas.

The title picture shows the GIANT snowfall (maybe 3-4 snowflakes deep) from the SEVERE weather (as described in the 6am call from the school system) that resulted in school cancellation on Tuesday – I get such a kick out of this. I believe the weather man had an off day, but it was still a cold day for chili.

Have a great day today.