Monday, December 19, 2011

Texas Chili dun have beans!

Since I last wrote, Fetus has made his entrance into the world.  Meet Max:

He’s two months now, and a doll.  He's like a camel, or his eyes are at least; big dark eyes with long lashes.  For those interested, the labor was 7 hours long (less than half of how long it took to get his sister out).  I was quite rudely woken up at 2am with regular contractions and he was out at 9:10.  I had been, as it turns out, 4 cm dilated before labor even started.  Five minutes of pushing.  It was as smooth a labor and delivery as I could have hoped for.

But enough about that.  This is a food blog and placentas need not apply.  (I’m honestly not sure I would be into that.  Eating it, I mean.)  So anyway, I love Top Chef.  My husband doesn’t.  What irritates him most appears to be the portions that appear in fine dining.  “I’m hungry!  Where’s the rest of the food?  I wanna be fed!”  While I have never fine dined like the kind of fine dining they often do on Top Chef, he has.  He always felt hungry afterwards.  So he has a modicum of contempt for the whole thing, for poor Padma Lakshmi (“She’s not a chef.  Why the hell should they listen to her?”), for reality shows in general.  (He’s forever getting on my case about reality shows.)  “You make ze meal!  And zen we eat eet!  And zen ve jodge you!”  Unfortunately, Top Chef is not something that we can enjoy together.

So he didn’t see the recent chili cook off episode with me.  I first made chili about two years ago.  I found a recipe for it in the New York Metro (a free newspaper that workers near subway station exits press on you every weekday morning).  I’ve been unable to find that recipe again since, which is unfortunate because that chili was BADASS.  It was pretty dark, so it probably called for more chili powder and cumin than I’ve gotten into the habit of using, but it was really good.

The thing about this Top Chef episode was that this season they are in Texas, and as locals were so eager to point out (bless their Texy souls), Texas chili does NOT have beans in it.   That first recipe I used called for beans and meat, and I always put both in my chili.  I like it that way.  I think it’s hearty.  In fact I don’t think I’ve ever had chili without beans; but then again, I’m a damn Yank.

Nevertheless, I like to think of chili the same way I think of stew; an amalgamation of a bunch of different things.  The more stuff, I think, the better.  This chili that I made the other day was more…amalgamated than usual.

That there is spaghetti sauce, chopped onion, red kidney beans, and corn - a new addition.  The hubs requested corn, so I decided to throw it into the chili instead of serving on the side.  Made it rather sweet.

And here are two of my loves, my kitchen mainstays.  Sofrito and recaito are flavored bases often used in Hispanic cooking; I have a tendency to use them often.  Sofrito is, as you can see if you squint, a tomato base, and recaito is a cilantro base.  About a tablespoon of each glopped onto half of what I cook packs a nice wallop.  (These bases are what give yellow Spanish rice its flavor and what makes it yellow.  Took me forever to figure that one out.)  Snootier Puerto Rican cooks will yap about how they make their own from scratch, but I'm not quite there yet.  Store bought does just fine for now.

Here's an interesting one: our friend Celery.  (My mother in law has recently been trying to get me to drink Cel-ray, which is apparently a celery flavored soda.  She keeps saying it's good; I keep saying I'll take her word for it.)  I don't really use celery a lot; usually only in chicken soup when I'm sick.  But I had some left over from the last time I made said soup, and I was using a lot more vegetables in this here chili, so why the hell not.

I also used some chopped garlic (the little jarred type):

Yes, I'm too lazy to use fresh garlic.  I find that when I buy it fresh I don't use it fast enough.

Observe: the Sodium Collection.  What I seasoned the chili with, and, indeed, what I season almost everything with (except for the Murphy's Oil Soap in the background that I just realized is there....).  I'm like Giada; "a little bit of salt and a little bit of pepper" goes into practically everything.  Sea salt is healthy right?....

And now THE HUNK OF GROUND BEEF!  What meat eater doesn't like a hunk of ground beef?  I would have liked to use ground pork, which I've used as a burger before and I found it surprisingly lean and yummier than I expected, but I only had le boeuf.  I usually smoosh it up with my fingers and season it a bit before browning, but I was lazy that day.  And also hungry. 

I do not, sadly have a picture of the finished product, because it, well, got eated pretty quick and I forgot to take a picture of it before it got devoured.  You know, I didn't hate it, buuuut I didn't love it either.  It was a little too vegetable-y.  I think I'll skip the celery next time.

Next time I'll write about that most fearsome of creatures: the Lobster.


  1. I love Top Chef! But I kind of agree with hubby. I know I would be left hungry if I ate one of those dishes. If I go to a fine dinning restaurant (which I never do) I would feel like I get ripped off thinking where is the rest of my food! LOL

    And Sofrito FTW! Forget those people that say you need to make your own. Store bought works just as well. Though I've never tried the Goya one. We always Buy Don To~o but I doubt you have that in NYC. LOL

  2. Store bought rules right?? I was talking to a lady about it once and she was like "oh do you make it yourself? I do." and I was like "you can make it yourself?" o_o