Get ready, set, GO...this weekend promises a lot here. We have the weekend full participation cooking class still on a Sweetheart Special of 25% off and we have a few openings. Even if football is no biggey for you--the specials at the grocery store for snacks and beer are worthwhile. And our Sweetheart deal is still on for 25% off until this Thursday, February 9. And...we have Red Chile Fiesta, a day class coming on Thursday evening, February 23.
For all kinds of reasons, chili has somehow become synomous with February--the big game, the cold weather and its spiciness gives us a great mood lift. And besides it smells so wonderful, simmering away. Once made, chili freezes exceptionally well and is so versatile. Besides eating chili out of a bowl, you can use it to make enchiladas, stuff potatoes, garnish nachos and so much more. Want a whole cookbook featuring chili recipes and dishes serve made with chili? My "Chili Madness" is just the answer and it just happens to be my best-selling cookbook with over a million copies sold.
If you would like your very own copy, autographed, I am putting it on a special of 20% off for both editions. The 2nd edition cost will be $10.50 and the 3rd edition cost will be $12.75. Both are totally amazingly great prices.
Have I ever told you about some of the history of chili? The dish is totally American, developed and greatly expanded here. The development of the railroad as well as the Civil war were huge impetus for creating their popularity.
First the Civil War. To feed the Confederate Army marching out of Texas, the obvious food was chili as it is easily made and keeps very well. The Texans who were enticed with free land to come to Texas from Germany after the Alamo were very "long on beef"--having more beef than they literally knew what to do with, as there was no market for the quantity of beef they were raising. So, beef became the meat they began making into chili to feed the prisoners and chain gangs, the school children, and then the Confederate Army, etc.
One of the crafty German men created the idea for mixing together 40% salt with 30% ground red chiles and other flavorings for use in creating this stew that became known as chili con carne. By the way, Gebhart's Chili Powder is still sold in grocery stores. For the Army, the Chili Powder could be used to flavor chopped beef, which could be made into a stew that would keep well, since red chile is the world's best anti-oxidant or spoilage retardant.
And then, when the railroad came and finally there was a market for the beef--food was needed to feed the cowboys herding the cattle to the railhead. And chili came to the rescue and was what they ate three times a day. By the way, the reason beans, tomatoes and other vegetables got into chili, was that as they were nearing the rail head in Kansas--they couldn't stop the progression of the herd, so they stretched the stew with beans and then the other veggies.
The original "cowboy stew" was the Bowl o Red which has none of the vegetables--I will print the recipe again below in case you don't have it on hand. Also, a quickie recipe for chili. Did you know that in addition to all the other wonderful properties of chili--it is very healthy and a great diet food. A loyal customer told me he lost over 50 pounds eating the Bowl o Red alternately with the Diet Chili---both recipes follow.
BOW O RED, CLASSIC CHILI
The influence behind this chili recipe came from my maternal grandfather, who when working with the Santa Fe Railroad learned how to prepare it from the “cookies,” or trail cooks. It has won numerous chili cook-offs and is one of the really true original chilis.
2 Tablespoons shortening, preferably solid shortening such as lard or butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 medium-size garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup ground hot chile or to taste
¼ cup ground mild chile
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
About 3 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Heat lard in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Remove from heat.
2. Add meat, garlic, ground chiles and cumin to pot. Break up any lumps. Stir in the water and salt. Return to heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the flavors are well blended. Add more water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Serve with fixin’s ‘n mixins’ of coarsely grated cheeses, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion and sour cream with lime wedges garnished with a “ruffle” of red chile.
FIRST LOVE CHILI
This recipe is highly recommended for chili newcomers. It has been known to warm the cockles of the heart and secure long-lasting devotion. The cinnamon and cloves add a particularly nice flavor, but remember to remove them before serving. Although the proportions listed produce a chili-for-two (enough for one chili devotee plus one novice) they can be doubled to serve four.
Yield: 2 servings
1 Tablespoon lard
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium sized cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean beef, coarsely chopped or hand cut in ½ inch dice
2 Tablespoons pure ground red chile (hot or mild or a combination)
1 teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne chile
1teaspoon ground cumin, divided
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt or to suit taste
1, 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small bay leaf
1 small stick cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 16 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Melt the lard in a heavy pot over medium-high heat . Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Add meat to the pot—and if ground break apart and brown. If hand cut, do not brown.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chile, and remaining ingredients including half of the cumin. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil and simmer for 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cloves . Add the remaining cumin, stirring well—taste and adjust seasonings and serve.