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White: Chili recipe can be tweaked to be hot, mild

Published 01/24/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 01/22/2013 01:05 PM

I don't think about chili much, but when I do give it a thought, I wonder why I don't make it more often.

When I was in Phoenix, Darcy made it with ground turkey. I don't use ground turkey. As a matter of fact, I only use ground beef unless I have it ground from a chuck roast at the supermarket. But Darcy's chili was really good and I decided I would make some for myself when I got back to Connecticut. I forgot.

A week ago, I had lunch with friends at a new place in Central Village called the Roadside Diner. I ordered liver and onions but also got some chili which I shared with my friends. The chili arrived at the table in a big bowl topped with lots of cheese, broiled, as if it were gratineed onion soup. Luscious, of course.

A few days later I decided to make chili at home. I have been trying to cut down on carbohydrates and if I made the dish itself it would be, if not carb-free, have relatively few carbs and those would be healthy ones.

I used a mix I bought at Ocean State Job Lot. I first used Wick Fowler's 2-Alarm Chili Kit when my husband and I lived in Houston in the 70s, before I actually learned to cook. It consists of seven packets of seasonings: red pepper, corn masa flour, cumin/oregano, ground chile peppers, onion/garlic, paprika and salt.

If you like chili hot enough to blister your tongue, add the whole packet of red pepper, for medium hot add half the packet and for mild, don't add any. Considering myself fairly high on the capsaicin index, I added half. It was way too hot, so when the chili was finished, I added another 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes. I also cut two cube steaks into slices instead of ground beef, (It was January, and time for another issue of "The Freezer Diaries." I found the cube steaks, labeled "12/09," on a bottom shelf.) I added red kidney beans, too.

Overall, the chili was delicious. If you don't use Wick Fowler's mix, pick and choose seasoning without using the mix.

LEE WHITE HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND COOKING SINCE THE LATE 1970S. EMAIL HER AT LEEAWHITE@AOL.COM.

Chili for Super Bowl or Any Other Time

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 pounds ground beef and/or pork, or cube steak cut into 1-inch chunks slices

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen tomatoes, available at BJ's)

Wick Fowler seasoning, less masa flour and red pepper OR 1 teaspoon each cumin, oregano, paprika and a tablespoon or more chili powder

Salt to taste

1 can beans (red, pink, black or any other), rinsed and drained

cayenne powder (begin with teaspoon) and taste

water or more canned tomatoes, to taste

In a big heavy bottomed pot, add oil and heat. Add onion, garlic and celery and heat until translucent. Add beef and cook until no longer pink; remove fat and return pot to stove. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about half an hour. Add salt to taste. Put in drained beans and cook through. Add teaspoon cayenne, stir and taste. Add more, teaspoon at a time and taste. If using the mix, combine masa and cup of water if you like it thicker. Cook for another 20 minutes. If too thick, add water. Serve with bowls of grated cheddar cheese and chopped onions.

Nibbles

Gloria Pepin called in early January, suggesting she and I and the Rufos go for dinner one night, since Jacques was in New York. I made reservations for four at Bar Bouchee in Madison and agreed we would pick her up. As it turned out, Jacques came home in time for dinner, so the five of us met there.

As I was still watching carbs, I ordered what Jacques ordered: a butter lettuce salad and beef tartare. I wouldn't order this in just any restaurant (where it would not be on the menu anyway), but for those of us old enough to remember eating raw beef when we were little (when ground beef was considered safe to eat), this is the place to try it. The superb beef, hand-chopped with a sharp knife, is tossed lightly into a round mold, garnished with greens and served with housemade potato chips. I thought I was in heaven.

Bar Bouchee

8 Scotland Road

Madison, CT

(203) 318-8004

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