Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Turkey Chili

While there are many foods that are appropriate for winter, i.e. casseroles, soups, Christmas cookies, etc, the quintessential cold-weather dish is chili. Chili can be prepared a hundred different ways, but there are some rules. First, don't be in a hurry. This isn't a 30-minute meal, to quote someone who I absolutely cannot stand. Don't get me and Bourdain started on that one. You must simmer chili for at least 60 minutes to fully permeate the entire residence in which it is being prepared. Secondly, it must be manufactured in large quantities. If you're gonna make chili, either do so for a crowd or break out the tupperware for leftovers.

An enameled cast-iron pot is preferred, or stainless steel. You never want to use non-anodized aluminum cookware for acidic foods, unless you like that dissolved aluminum taste.

December 21st brings the astronomical start of winter, when the earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. So while it might not feel like it, from now until June 21st, the days are getting longer. Bring it on old man winter, me and my chili can take it.

Turkey Chili
8 servings

3 medium yellow onions, diced (2.5 C)
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 lbs. ground turkey
4 TB tomato paste
1/4 C dry red wine
29 oz. kidney beans
29 oz. pinto beans
29 oz. canned diced tomato, juice included
1 TB cumin, powdered
2 ts. chili flakes
3 TB chili powder (I used medium heat)
1 TB ancho chili powder-UPDATE-a bit of this is good stuff!
2 ts oregano, dried
S&P, to taste

Coat a large pot with EVOO over medium heat, add the onions and cook for a few minutes until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and stir for a minute, then add the turkey and cook until browned, drain all but 1 TB of fat. Add the tomato paste to the middle of the pot, stir for a couple minutes to develop flavor. Deglaze the pan with the wine, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 60-90 minutes. Stir occasionally, and if not spicy enough to your liking, add some cayenne pepper or a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce.

My favorite way to dress a bowl of chili? Some raw onion, fresh jalapeno, freshly shredded extra sharp Wisco cheddar, a dollop of sour cream. Where else can you use the word dollop?

A good pairing would be Ravenswood Zinfandel, Vitner's Blend. And don't forget the cornbread, saltines, or oyster crackers.

Please do enjoy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pork Tenderloin, Onion Apple Bacos Relish, Parmesan Shallot Mash Taters

The pan-seared, oven-roasted pork tenderloin is a great canvas for the current season's flavors. This recipe was the result of pretty much just throwing whatever was left in the cupboard/freezer together and hoping for the best.

From Soupe a l'oignon, http://bltlobster.blogspot.com/2009/10/soupe-loignon.html we know a good way to caramelize onions. After making my last batch of chicken stock overnight in the slow cooker, of which I am now depleted due to Thanksgiving, I thought onions might become divine in the same manner, about 8-10 hours on low. I started mine on high for an hour, then down to low for about 9 hrs. And just like the chicken stock, I was waking up on the hour wondering what the hell was going on. My favorite application for these slowly caramelized onions is as follows: take a high quality sandwich roll, slather on some horseradish-black pepper mayo, pile on some thinly sliced roast beef, thinly sliced red onion, the very extra sharpest you can find aged Wisconsin cheddar, maybe lettuce and tomato if you wanna get crazy, and a solid hunk of caramelized onion. The Earl of Sandwich would approve. And then keep gambling without having to touch his meat.

Pork Tenderloin, Onion Apple Bacos Relish
two servings w/scant leftovers

1 C caramelized onion
1/2 ts garlic, minced
1 red delicious apple, cored, 1/2" slices
3 TB quality balsamic vinegar, divided
1 TB light brown sugar
1/3 ts cassia cinnamon
freshly cracked black pepper
3/4-1 lb. pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
2 ts crumbled bacon, about 3 small pieces rendered

Contains no real bacos. Freshly cooked bacon, crumbled. God's candle, that's what that is. Throw in some onion, them's angels singin.

The slow-cooker onions, once cooled overnight. Sweet, sweet onions, what would I ever eat without you. I agree it might resemble dog food, but that where the similarity ends. That's if you've ever eaten dog food. I have. And a dog treat. The treat was better, which is probably why I get along with dogs.

Fire up the hotbox to four honey. Get a skillet over medium-high heat for bout 4 minutes, then coat with evoo. Sear the loin on all sides, two minutes on each larger surface, and one minute on each side. Place into a baking dish and place in oven for 12-15 minutes or until about 145 F at the thickest.

In the same skillet, toss in the onion, apple and garlic over medium-low heat, deglaze with 2 TB balsamic vinegar and stir for a minute. Add in the brown sugar, cinnamon, S&P. Cook the apple mixture, breaking up the apples into dice size, for about 8-10 minutes. Add the last TB of balsamic near the end of the cooking time.

Remove pork from oven, cover loosely with foil an rest 5 minutes. Pour any escaping jus into the apple mixture.

Slice the pork, place the apple onion mixture on top, sprinkle with bacon, and please do enjoy.

Serve with Parmesan Shallot Mash Taters, which will be posted soon.

Gravy Lake, a favorite vacation spot for all ages!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Italian Sausage and Peppers, Rosemary-Thyme Romano Bread

One year for the Holidays I was given a gift cert from work for $75. For the Olive Garden. Even with the never-ending salad and breadstick bullshit, it's bad. Just bad. Like suburban New Jersery bad. In an attempt to turn a lemon into lemonade I tried to buy a bottle of gin from the bar for $75, hoping to find the bar manager realizing my predicament and wanting to turn a buck. No deal, however, so we actually ate there. I had nightmares for a solid month.
Sausage and Peppers Rustica is a classic on their menu. This recipe tastes nothing like it. Which is to say, it doesn't suck.

Sausage and Peppers Rustica
four servings

2-3 links hot or sweet Italian sausage, sliced about 1"
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 cups pasta sauce
1 lb. pasta
parmigiano reggiano

Rosemary-Thyme Romano Bread

1 TB Penzeys Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle
1/2 ts fresh rosemary or 1/4 ts dry
1/2 ts fresh thyme or 1/4 ts dry
black pepper
6 slices French bread

Saute the sausage in a generous pour of evoo over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side or until well browned. A splatter screen is about 80% effective against grease splatter, and 80% better than zero is a wise choice. I mean, you do fry bacon, right? Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from heat onto something lined with paper towel.

Toss in the peppers and onions. stirring well for 30 seconds, then turn down the heat to medium. Cook the veg for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the peppers are not cooked to become soft. Add the pasta sauce and stir, then simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes while the pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to directions, then add to the sauce mixture with a little bit of the cooking water, about 1/4 cup. Stir over medium-low heat for a couple minutes to incorporate.

Serve with parm reg shaved on top and the herb cheese bread, once broiled. A Californian merlot or a Zinfandel would pair well.

Olive Garden. YGBFKM. What's next? Red Lobster? Applebee's? Chili's? Do you really think Guy Fieri eats at TGI Friday's? I don't think so.