Fresh Fridays: A Chili Recipe Straight from Grandma

For this week Joe shares his Grandma’s special chili recipe which took a little convincing as you’ll read below so make sure you try this recipe and leave a comment below.

After receiving several requests for a chili recipe, I have decided to give my Grandma’s chili recipe, just in time for football parties.  This is a special recipe to me because it is one of the first things I ever learned to cook that people thought actually tasted good.  And I learned a valuable lesson when I made it,  you don’t need a long list of ingredients or complicated techniques to make delicious food.  This recipe is a study in the “less is more” philosophy that I use when I cook.  This recipe will be pleasing to many because the ingredients work well together and there aren’t a lot of differing flavors or textures here.  The right combination of a few ingredients is often far better than something that is overly complex.  Chili powder has always been one of my favorite spices, and as the key flavoring ingredient in this recipe, pays homage to the flavor from which this food gets it name.

Every time I make this chili I eat at least half the batch myself and usually gain about 5 pounds the week I have this chili on hand.  In fact this simple recipe means so much to me I almost didn’t want to share it,  but after I “got over myself”  I realized that the point of dear recipes is to allow others to experience how good simple soulful cooking from the heart can be.   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients

60 fl oz tomato JUICE (most important ingredient)  this is exactly 5 cans out of a six pack
3 12 oz cans of dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 lbs ground beef
2 large white onions (diced to approx 1/4″)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation

Heat the veg oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute till soft and starting to turn translucent.  Next add garlic and stir in to incorporate.  Immediately add the ground beef and brown evenly, stirring occasionally.  When beef has browned, drain out excess fat.  Add tomato juice and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, reduce to simmer.  Add beans, salt, pepper, and chili powder (at this step you can also add cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or just more chili powder and black pepper, if you like it hot).  When this comes back to a simmer it should start to really smell like chili, reduce even further to a light simmer, cover, and let cook for 1 hour (or as long as you can stand to wait). Turn off heat and let cool 20 minutes before eating.

This is a thin chili by most standards but the flavor given by the tomato juice should be more subtle and makes a better broth or base than most tomato sauces. Eat with lots of friends, and several loaves of fresh Italian bread, and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Enjoy!

You can download a PDF version of this Grandma’s Chili.

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Photo by: Starbuck

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Make a Fresh Habanero-Lime Salsa this Sunday

We both have always loved salsa though Justin tends to be a little obsessed with it….really, no joke!  Justin seems to have become a salsa connoisseur and today he shares one of his favorite recipes for habanero-lime salsa.  Instead of buying some of that store bought jar stuff, take a little bit of time before sitting down for the football game this Sunday and make some fresh salsa.

Habanero-Lime Salsa

Ingredients

6-8 firm plum tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion
2 habanero peppers
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1-2 limes
1/3 c fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/8 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 c rice wine vinegar

Warning: Be careful when handling habanero peppers.  You should wear gloves and be careful of where and what you touch immediately after handling habaneros.

Preparation

Remove the seeds from the plum tomatoes and then finally dice into small quarter pieces.  If you want the salsa to be very spicy then leave the seeds in the habanero peppers.  If you want it to be more mild, then remove the seeds and you can also add a dash of sugar to the recipe.  Finally chop onion, cilantro and parsley.  Combine all ingredients and squeeze the juice of the limes into the dish.  Stir all ingredients together and let rest together for approximately 20-30 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld together.

Enjoy!

You can download a PDF version of this Habanero-Lime Salsa.

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Photo by: SuziJane

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Meat the Press Mondays: Proper Grill Management

For Meat the Press Mondays, we bring you another episode of Prime Cuts TV.  Today’s episode focuses on proper grill management.  The ability properly manage a grill is essential especially when grilling various items at the same time or trying to cook several meats all to different temperatures.

We apologize in advance for the rough audio.  Unfortunately, the only time you can shoot a video about proper grill management is when the kitchen is busy therefore we had to have our hood fans on and other staff were working around us.  If you are viewing this post in a reader, you can view the video on Prime Cuts TV.

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How to Select the Proper Kitchen Knife

One of the biggest mistakes people make in the kitchen is not selecting the proper tools.  We’ve already discussed the importance of choosing quality knives and now bring you this video from the FoodGear team on selecting the proper type of kitchen knife:

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Do you have a favorite knife in your block?  If so, leave a comment below letting us know what type of knife it is and why it’s your favorite.

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How to Fabricate a Whole Filet Mignon

Today we follow up to our Prime Cuts TV video earlier this week with another episode…this time on how to fabricate (cut-down) an unpeeled tenderloin into beautiful cuts of filet mignon.  Just like with buying a whole ribeye, this can be a great way to save some money while not sacrificing on quality.

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Meat the Press Mondays: How to Fabricate a Whole Ribeye

Today on Meat the Press Mondays we teach you how to fabricate (cut-down) a whole ribeye.  This is a beneficial technique to know how to do as you can save a lot of money by buying a whole ribeye from your local wholesaler such as Costco, BJ’s Wholesale, or Sam’s Club.

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Fresh Fridays: Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

For Fresh Fridays, Joe teaches you how to make one of his favorite types of soup, cream of butternut squash.

So, for a cool fall evening I thought I would write a bit about soups, and in particular the pureed soups that are ever popular with fall squashes, butternut, perhaps being one of the most common types.  These are easy soups to prepare, but the difficult work can come when you have to peel some of these peculiarly shaped squashes, such as buttercup, hubbard, and some pumpkin varieties…just to name a few of the more oddly shaped ones. The things that you will need to have are a good blender, a big stock pot, and an ultra heavy duty vegetable peeler (I find that the pull down type work better for rugged jobs than the side to side types).For the purposes of this post I will list the basic method to making a good cream of squash soup, and then follow it up with my recipe for cream of butternut.  This method was adapted from legendary French chef Joel Robuchon’s recipe for cream of pumpkin soup.  Chef Robuchon’s seasonal cookbooks have been a constant inspiration throughout my culinary career, as he tends to have an elegant yet simple style that makes common ingredients become incredible.

The rough idea to this soup is to have approximately the same amounts by volume of peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped squash, and stock, which you will be boiling the squash in (for squash soups, chicken stock is the natural choice).  Begin by placing the squash pieces into your large stock pot, pour in the chicken stock to just about cover the top of the squash, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook till the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.  Next, you will be pureeing this mixture in your blender, in small batches (you could use an immersion blender, but I find that the container-type blender results in a smoother soup).  Ladle a few scoops of the solids and then just a scoop or two of the liquid into your blender and puree till smooth.   Repeat this process till all the squash and stock are pureed smooth.  If it seems too watery, use less stock and more squash, if too thick do the opposite.  Now that you have all your squash and stock pureed, return to your cleaned stock pot and bring to a light simmer, add heavy cream, spices/flavorings (salt, white pepper, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, honey, sugar, maple syrup, all work well in these type soups) and bring back to a simmer.   Remember when flavoring these soups that the squash themselves already contain a good deal of natural sweetness, so season carefully and think savory.  The last thing you want is to have an overly sweet soup that tastes like candy, or worse, one of those super sweet candied yam casseroles with the marshmallow fluff on it.  If your soup is this sweet, you may have trouble getting your guests to partake in the next courses of the meal. 😉

To finish the soup I like to whisk in some cold unsalted butter pieces which provides some additional savory richness and body.   If after all this your soup seems too thick, you can thin by whisking in some more stock.  If too thin then you can whisk in some cornstarch diluted in cold water, like finishing a gravy.  Some other types of squash/vegetables that work well for these soups are, acorn squash, buttercup squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potato, and leek, and you could even do a nice creamed carrot soup this way.

Experiment with lots of different types of squashes/vegetables and seasonings, and enjoy!

Joe’s Fall Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

Note: These are restaurant size portions so either make a large batch or cut back on the portions.

Ingredients

4 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 large white onions, peeled and quartered
6 qt homemade dark chicken stock (store bought works fine too)
3/4 qt heavy cream
1/4 lb unsalted butter chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp dark amber maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
2 or 3 small dashes freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation

-Boil butternut squash and onion in chicken stock till tender
-Puree all ingredients from previous step in blender
-Return to cleaned stockpot, add seasoning ingredients, whisk thoroughly to combine, bring back up to simmer
-Add heavy cream, whisk to combine, bring back up to simmer
-Add butter, turn off heat, whisk till butter is melted and incorporated, remove cinnamon sticks and taste for seasoning.

The finished product of this soup should be velvety smooth and more savory than sweet.  The texture should be that of warm baby food (sorry for the potentially appetite altering metaphor). The color should be a rich pumpkin orange lightly flecked by the grated nutmeg.  This soup will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

You can download a PDF version of this Cream of Butternut Squash Soup.

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Photo by: Divine Domesticity


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