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  • Chili Con Carne, The Series
    Beans

    Beans

    Ok, I’ll not start the great chili with beans is not chili discussion here. Suffice to say there are those who hold that chili con carne is chilies with meat, and meat only. I’ll not agree nor will I disagree.

    I’ll include beans in my chili for the same reason the chuck masters of old did. To stretch a meal to feed a number of very hungry drovers.

    Chili with beans is beans that have been prepared in a spicy sauce of Southwestern origin. Usually, chili with beans is prepared with meat, although it is perfectly acceptable to leave them vegetarian or vegan if desired. This dish can be eaten on its own, served over rice, cornbread, and other starches, used as a dip, or added to burritos. Chili with beans are especially popular in the American Southwest, where it is possible to encounter a number of persons who are very firm ideas about what does and does not belong in chili.

    These beans are a version of chili con carne, a traditional South Western dish made by simmering cubed meat in a rich, spicy sauce. Chili con carne is traditionally made with beef, and the seasonings many vary. Onions, garlic, hot peppers, tomatoes, cumin, and cilantro are common additions to chili. The slow cooking process breaks the meat down, and infuses it with flavor from the spices.

    In some regions, beans are added to chili con carne, making a version of chili beans, although some people think that beans do not belong in chili. Any type of beans can be used, including kidney beans, black beans, white beans, or pinto. For our chili I’ll use a mixture of red kidney beans and good old pintos to enhance the flavor and make the dish more interesting.

    When preparing chili with beans, the first step is washing and soaking the beans. Many think the main reason to soak beans is to minimize gas, and while it’s true that soaking does help to remove some of the indigestible complex sugars from the skin of the beans, it’s certainly not the real reason to soak.
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  • Chili Con Carne, The Series
    TOP SECRETS

    top-secret

    I did mention I was going to throw a few rogue chef twists into this…..

    Let’s start with a fairly obvious one…

    Chili was developed in Texas during the days when “Cattle was King, and the citizens were not cattle”, and was a staple meal on cattle drives from rural Texas to the rail heads. Now, IF I remember my Texas History, (I was thought by Mary Hornbuckle, and I may block some things from the trauma), usually a head of stock was butchered and roasted one day, the remnants were then spiced for preservation, then the following day the remnants were cooked with spices (to cover the taste of the taint), and maybe beans to stretch the meal to feed a number of hungry drovers.
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  • Chili Con Carne, The Series
    Meat

    beefjpg

    Ok, we’ve talked about beef before, but what I’m looking for here is how to take a flavorful piece of maybe not so prime beef, concentrate it’s umami, and maybe break down a little of that stringy connective tissue, into lip smacking, finger licking, plate sopping flavor…
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  • Chili Con Carne, The Series
    Chili Powder

    bspices

    It is now officially fall. The leaves are turning, there is a crispness to the air, and the night air is quite chilly.

    I’ve been doing soups and such, so I suppose it is time for my annual chili fest. Every year the first week of October, I make up several gallons of chili and inflect share it with my office. This year will be on different, but I’m going to do a little less on the the chili, and a little more on the carne… I’ll start with a dry aged roast, that I’ll break down and then cube to the appropriate sizes, add some hand mixed chili powder, so washed and soaked beans, and maybe some of my brown / beef stock. Of course, there will be any number of secret ingredients.

    Now this is a bit much for a single post so I’ll make a series of this. Let’s start with the chili powder..

    Background
    Chili con carne (literally “Chili with meat”, often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew made from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin. Traditional chili is made with chopped or ground beef. Variations, either geographic or by personal preference, may substitute different types of meat and may also include tomatoes, beans, or other ingredients. The name “chili con carne” is a variation of the Spanish chile con carne, which means “peppers with meat.” Chili con carne is the official dish of the U.S. state of Texas. It can be found worldwide in local variations and also in certain American-style fast food restaurants.

    A large component of this is chili powder…
    Chili powder is a generic name for any powdered spice mix composed chiefly of chili peppers, most commonly either red peppers or cayenne peppers, which are both of the species Capsicum annuum. It can be made from virtually any hot pepper including ancho, Cayenne, Jalapeño, New Mexico, and pasilla chilis.

    The spice mix may simply be pure powdered chilis, or it may have other additives, especially cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Some mixes may even include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mace, nutmeg, or turmeric. As a result of the various different potential additives, the spiciness of any given chili powder is incredibly variable. As a rule, the purer and the fresher the chili powder is, the spicier it is.

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  • Steak Soup / Stew

    SVS

    Ok, forget the title…. This is all about how to stretch things when you do not want to go to the store… (We are coming up on those days, a Nor-Easter, a blizzard, or just the winter blahs…

    Now I have a taste for steak, but I have two decent ones, and that will not come close to feeding the pack here at the lair. So it’s either off to the store, (I am NOT ready for that), or make this stretch. Maybe a very thick soup, almost a beef stew, but with the beef cubed much smaller, browned well and use my brown stock instead of chicken stock…

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  • Pumpkin Soup, Thai Style

    CPS

    So I’m upstate, and all the farm stands have tons of apples, and mega tons of pumpkins. It’s fall and we are looking towards Halloween, and holidays. I’ll not start with the pumpkin pie shtick, (yet), but I will toss out a pumpkin / coconut milk / curry soup that is quite a pleaser.

    I’ll start an hour most other bloggers / cooking sites do, they say use a 15 oz can of 100% real pumpkin…. I have three words for this…

    MAKE YOUR OWN……

    To roast a pumpkin….

    To bake a fresh 3 to 5 pound pumpkin, (The smaller ones are sweeter), Wash thoroughly, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and such. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking dish and add a little water, (1/4″). Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes (depending on size) or until tender, use a fork to check. Remove from oven and scoop out insides, discard the skin

    15 oz can of 100% real pumpkin, my “acorn squash”

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