Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cincinnati-Style Chili

I'm going to go on record as saying that this is Rosie Hawthorne's fault. But not to worry, Rosie, for as you like to say, it's all good.
When my daughter found out that Rosie was making chili and blogging about it, the daughter immediately asked, "Is she making it with beans?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Oh," the daughter replied dejectedly. "I don't like beans. Did she make it with cinnamon and chocolate?"
"No," I responded.
"Mommmmmmy, would you make Cincinnati Chili for us? Please?" the dear daughter asked, the puppy eyes turned up full volume.
What was I to do? "Of course I'll make Cincinnati Chili for you. I just need to find a recipe for it."
Not to worry, as an Internet search revealed several versions of this Midwestern specialty. I settled on a recipe that seemed to be true to the ideal. A trip to the grocery store secured the two ingredients I needed and then I was ready to go.

The ingredients for Cincinnati-Style Chili are:

1 pound extra-lean ground beef

1 clove garlic, minced or grated

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder or 1/2 oz. grated unsweetened chocolate

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

After using my mortar and pestle to grind the cumin seed, I added that to the ground cinnamon, ground allspice, cayenne pepper and salt.

First of all, I must point out that I heeded the advice from one of the reviewers of the recipe who pointed out that onions are not used in the sauce. However, after reading the ingredient lists on the canned chili that I have in the pantry, I found onion to be listed in both sauces. I believe that I will add some grated onion to the sauce the next time I make this recipe.
And now, on with the show. Following the directions, I browned the ground beef along with the grated garlic and chili powder. Talk about opening up your sinuses! Wonderful.
The ground beef in traditional Cincinnati-Style Chili is typically very finely chopped, so I used a potato masher to break down the meat.

Next, the remaining spices and cocoa powder were added to the pan.

Then the tomato sauce was poured in before the Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar and water were added.

The mixture was stirred before simmering over low heat for 1-1/2 hours.

I wish you could smell this. The cocoa blends with the cinnamon and cumin to create a smoky, exotic aroma.

I admit that I keep cans of Cincinnati-Style Chili on hand for quick weekend lunches. But today I have the real stuff on hand.

Here are some of the traditional toppings for the chili. Additional toppings are oyster crackers and kidney beans.

And now, here is your lesson on the proper ordering lingo for Cincinnati-Style Chili.
A One-Way is just the chili sauce.
A Two-Way (shown above) is the sauce over cooked spaghetti.

A Three-Way is with sauce, spaghetti and shredded cheddar cheese.

A Four-Way is sauce, spaghetti, shredded cheddar cheese and diced onion.
A Five-Way includes kidney beans.
The chili, onion and cheese can also be used to top a hot dog for a Cincinnati-Style Chili Dog sandwich.

I chose to eat a Four-Way with my salad.
This was delicious. The cocoa and the cumin play off of each other and together with the chili powder, create a nice flavor chord.
The best part is that I have some left over for tomorrow's lunch. Score!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rainbow Foods

While shopping at Sahara Mart last week, I found some organic produce that I just had to buy. Then I just had to figure out how to prepare this different food as well as what I would serve with it. Decisions, decisions.

A quick expedition into my freezer yielded a flat iron steak. That will work. Then it was off to the computer to find a recipe for this cut of beef.

Well, this recipe sounds like it would be right up Sandra Lee's alley. With a name like Drunken Flat Iron Steak, it seems like a natural. Oh wait, there are no seasoning packets or extracts used in the recipe. I guess Sandy wouldn't like it after all.

Here I have the ingredients for the marinade: garlic powder (how can I be out of garlic and onion?), kosher salt, black pepper, red wine (I have Shiraz wine on hand) and Dijon mustard along with the flat iron steak.

Since this recipe was developed for the restaurant industry, I had to cut the recipe for the marinade down roughly by a factor of 24 (give or take a bit). That translates to 1/2 cup red wine, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I would have used an entire clove if I had one) and a pinch of kosher salt.

The next part of this recipe is the Soy-Balsamic Reduction. Again, I had to cut down the amounts. I reduced 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan. Just before I pulled the pan off the heat, I added 1 tablespoon Less-Sodium Soy Sauce. This is a personal preference as I don't like to reduce soy sauce as it concentrates the salty flavor of the sauce.

Thick and rich and delicious.

Hmm, maybe a bit too thick. This is a sauce that needs to be kept warm.
I opted to skip the fruit salsa from the recipe, and as I didn't have any onions on hand, obviously I wasn't going to be making any crispy onions either.
And now, on to our featured item on the menu...

Certified Organic Rainbow Bunch Carrots. Aren't they cute? My daughter didn't believe me when I told her what I had found. "They make purple carrots? No way!"
Yes, way.

This lovely bunch of carrots only cost $1.99. Not bad for organic Rainbow carrots.

So the inside of a purple carrot is white. Interesting. I have four different colors of carrots here.

I preheated a grill pan for the steak. Flat iron steak should be cooked rare to medium.

This is starting to smell wonderful.

While the steak continued to cook, I heated some canola oil in a small pan before adding the chopped carrots. I like my vegetables tender-crisp, so this didn't take long at all.

A sprinkling of kosher salt and a whisper of honey was drizzled over the top after the carrots were taken from the pan.

The flat iron steak is cut across the grain after it has rested for a few minutes. It is usually at this point that I have to put some of the meat back on the heat for my husband who doesn't like to eat rare or even medium-rare meat.

My dinner is ready now.

I made a Broccoli, Bacon and Cranberry Salad to accompany this meal.

The carrots were tender-crisp with just a hint of sweetness.

The meat was moist and flavorful. My husband liked it even without the Soy-Balsamic Reduction.
This was a very good meal and my husband asked me to put the meat dish into the menu rotation. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beef Stroganoff - Sort of

When I was at the grocery store the other day looking for beef soup bones, I decided to pick up a package of beef stew meat so that I could add some meat to the stock. After all, soup bones have been scraped clean of nearly all the meat, so I needed to supplement the stock.
However, I knew I would not need all of the stew meat for the stock. What to do with the rest? Aha! I could find a recipe for Beef Stroganoff and make that while the beef stock simmers away. I had a plan, so when I got home I began looking for a recipe. I have had a lot of success with Tyler Florence's recipes, so I decided to go with his recipe for Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Noodles.

My mise en place for the Beef Stroganoff includes (from left rear) wide noodles, black pepper, sherry (to replace the cognac I don't have on hand), the last of my homemade beef stock, kosher salt, stew beef, carrot, garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaf, onion, butter, sour cream, Herbes de Provence (to replace the fresh parsley) and Dijon mustard. You will note that I don't have mushrooms here. I was asked by my daughter to leave that ingredient out of the recipe. I'm a good mother, so I did as she wished.

The recipe says to pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper before sauteing in a large pan.

Meanwhile, the carrot was chopped and added to the beef stock, along with the thyme and bay leaf. The stock was heated to allow the flavors to meld.

Once the beef browned, the onion was added and cooked until soft.

Then the sherry was added and this cooked for a few more minutes. I added the minced garlic at this point, since I would not be sauteing mushrooms. Be careful to not burn the garlic, as it will become bitter.

The beef stock was strained and added to the pot.

I might as well toss the carrot and herbs into my stock pot. Waste not, want not is my credo.

Now, back to the Beef Stroganoff. Since I had a burner occupied with the stock, I switched to the slow cooker to finish off this dish. The meat mixture simmered for a couple of hours.
The noodles were cooked according to package directions and then mixed with butter.
Just before we were ready to eat, I added the Dijon mustard and the sour cream. Deciding that the sauce needed more cream, I added a splash of heavy cream to the sauce.

Well, I have to admit that I Semi-Ho'd the rest of the meal with canned French-style green beans and Yoder's Homestyle Mashed Potatoes that I had doctored with butter, salt and heavy cream.

This was a good dish, but it was not quite what I had in mind. The sauce was not nearly as thick as I would have liked. I will keep looking for a better recipe.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Snowy Day in the Kitchen

Okay, it wasn't snowing in the kitchen, but it was snowy outside. Get it? Okay, good. Anyway, I wanted to try to recreate the pork loin dish that I had at the Scottish Rite this week. Realizing that I would not be able to "Go directly to Go, collect $200", I opted to travel the scenic route to recreating this recipe.
All right, Uncle. I admit it. It is very pretty outside today. Even if I am somewhat less than enthusiastic about the white stuff.

I love this barn. And I really hate the idea that this lovely barn might one day be torn down.

One of the wonderful things about snow is its ability to turn anything into a thing of beauty.

Looks like some wiseacre got to my daughter's car. Who did this?
*The blogger whistles innocently*

Now, back to the recipe. I first had to make a demi-glace:
I found this recipe to start off with.

Here I have Port wine, canola oil, homemade beef consomme, green onion, shallot, unsalted butter, bay leaf and kosher salt.

I grated some shallot and minced the green onion (to replace the leeks from the recipe) and sauteed them in the canola oil.

The port wine was added to the pan and this mixture reduced, and reduced, and reduced.

Okay, I'm bored. Let's round up the ingredients for the second part of this Frankensteinian recipe.
Assembled are ground black pepper (yes, I do keep this on hand for certain recipes), ground cinnamon, ground allspice, balsamic vinegar, homemade turkey consomme, kosher salt and garlic.

Ooh, the port sauce is finally doing something. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, it is ready. You can check this by drawing a line across the spoon. If the line remains, the sauce is at the nappe stage.

The beef consomme is added at this point, and we can go back to sleep, er...

The sauce reduces down to 1/2 to 2/3 cups.
Now, this is a good reason to start with unsalted or very lightly salted stocks, as the salt would just become very concentrated at this point.

The reduction is strained.

And now the butter is whisked in to the sauce.


Until the sauce takes on a velvety, glossy sheen. Now, wasn't this worth all the trouble? (And yes, I do go into the kitchen and start cooking when I am bored. Wanna make something of it?)
But, wait... We're not finished yet.

The spices are ready for the pork. I decided to substitute garlic powder for the garlic clove, since there were so many other things going on with the meat and the sauce.

And back to the demi-glace. This is rich and thick and delicious.

Now, if I had really been thinking ahead, I would have combined steps and recipes and added the turkey consomme and the balsamic vinegar to the beef consomme before whisking in the butter. But I wasn't, so I didn't. Oh well, and yet, somehow life goes on.

Well, what do you know? The universe didn't implode and life as we know it didn't cease to exist.

And now we have the test meat for this food experiment. I decided that boneless pork loin would sub nicely for the pork tenderloin.

The spice mixture has been rubbed on the meat. And don't look at me that way. I'm talking about cooking here.

The pork loin chops are first seared in a hot pan.

Before the cold port demi-glace is added to the pan. This then went into a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature reached 140 degrees.

This looks good.

Pass the knife and fork, please.

The dear daughter made her famous mac and cheese to compliment the pork chops.
Well, I'm getting there, albeit by the scenic route. Just give me some time. Oh, and can you pass me some seconds while you are at it?