Monday, October 19, 2009

What are you making that smells so good?!

When I went to Sam's Club today I found some pork stew meat on sale. Couldn't resist, looks like we'll have chili for dinner tonight... and tomorrow night... and maybe even the next day, too.

For chili spices I've had really good results using a pre-packaged mix from the grocery store. It's Carroll Shellby's Original Texas Chili mix. To write this post I looked up their website for the first time. I was hoping for some good info and additional recipes. Alas, no such luck. It's just a corporate site for the company that markets the mix, pretty dissappointing but at least you can see what the package looks like in case you want to find it in the store yourself.

I don't usually follow the package directions for this mix. I just use it to season my own recipe. So, let's see what that is...
Note: I'm not always a cook who measures things. I do when it counts, but this isn't one of those times. You're going to have to bear with me when I say it "looked about right" or "season to taste."
First, I browned the pork stew meat in a frying pan on the range. As it browned I transfered it into a deep casserole dish in the oven (my mom gave us this casserole dish last night and it was just begging to show me how well it would work). I also tossed in the leftover London broil from the rib dinner the other night. It was a little bit too tough to just eat as-is so I wanted to take advantage of its flavor here.
The one problem I saw with this pork is that it's pretty lean. I usually use pork shoulder or picnic shoulder when I make chili and shred the meat after a few hours in the slow-cooker. Those cuts have plenty of fat so the meat is juicy and tasty. This meat I got today is dryer and not quite as tender, even after a long cook in the oven.

After everything was browned and in the casserole dish I poured in two cans of chicken stock and dumped in a large onion that I'd cut rather coarsely. Oven temperature was set at about 250 degrees.
Once the meat had a couple or three hours to get tender I put in a can of diced stewed tomatoes and a larger can of whole stewed tomatoes. For the whole stewed tomatoes I crushed them in my hand before dropping them into the chili. This is a great way to break these up, just be sure your hands are clean and watch out for the inevitable squirt of tomatoe from between your fingers. I didn't do too bad this time, I only needed two paper towels to clean up afterwards.

Ok, here's where it gets fun... I use fire roasted chilis in my chili.
For this chili I got a bag full of Anaheim chilis and one red bell pepper so there would be some nice color. Roasting chilis is really easy but it's something a lot of people are leery of. Just turn on your range burner and set a chili or two on the burner ring. As the chilis blacken you'll want to turn them with a pair of kitchen tongs until the whole outside is charred. Drop the roasted chili in a paper or plastic bag and close the top. This lets the chili steam and continue to cook. Now do the rest of the chilis.
Once all the chilis are roasted and cooled enough to handle, I cut off the stem end, slice up the side, remove the seeds, and scrape off the charred skin. If you've done the roasting right the skin will slide right off. I don't worry if I don't get it all off but most of it should come off. Sometimes a rinse under the tap will aid in getting the skin off. After all this I diced the cooked chilis. The red bell pepper got cooked the same way but I cut it into thin strips rather than dice. At this point all the chilis got dumped into the pot of chili and I finally remembered to put in the chili seasoning.

I have to be careful when I make chili or salsa. I like them with some good kick but if I do that then Fayme can't eat any. I really enjoy cooking for her so I try to tone things down so she can enjoy them. For this batch of chili I used all the cayenne pepper in the chili mix. The amount I was making was way bigger than the mix is meant for so I didn't think it would be too hot. As it turns out, I was right. This was a one glass of milk bowl of chili for Fayme.
Actually, this is a picture of the whole batch in the new casserole "dish." I didn't mean to imply that this is the bowl of chili Fayme ate. Wow... can you imagine eating that much chili?



To go along with the chili I decided to make some garlic bread. I typically keep a butter and garlic mix in the 'fridge so I dug that out and spruced it up. I added about 4 more cloves of minced garlic, some fine chopped fresh parsley, and another stick of butter. A few seconds in the microwave and everything was soft enough to mix and then spread.



If you'd like to make this mix for yourself it is simplicity itself. Grab an old jar and put in butter, minced garlic, and mix it up. I also add in oregano, chopped parsley, and sometimes some garlic powder if I don't feel it's garlicky (is that a word?) enough. I keep this jar in the refrigerator and pull it out whenever garlic bread sounds good. When it gets low I just top it off with more butter and garlic.
A quick trip under the broiler for the garlic bread, a little green onion, cilantro, and sour cream for the chili, and we're good to go!



The only problem now is who is coming over to help us eat all this chili? You know, way back when I was a kid my mom and dad had a coffee shop in southern California. I think that "cooking for crowds" thing really sunk into me because I find it almost impossible to cook an amount reasonable for two people.
I really need to open up a bed and breakfast in Arizona so I can cook for more than just Fayme and I.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Lady Arwen of the Silver Rose said...

We definitely need to share with the world. I only have one stomach. Maybe Jose might want to come over for dinner. We'd have to dine al fresco as we don't have a dining room.