Thursday, January 5, 2017

American Chili Con Carne and Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread

When our grandson was coming to visit, I decided to make “a big pot of Chili”.  I am waiting for someone to ever say they’re making “a small pot of chili” but never mind.  Now there are a couple of chili recipes on Chewing the Fat that are awfully good.  There’s Monte’s Bourbon Chili… It has a lot of fans. But Bourbon and little boys don’t strike me as a perfect match.  Then there’s Texas Beef Brisket Chili which actually comes with song lyrics begging you not to use beans when you attempt a real Texas chili…  But here again, the last time Mason and I had a conversation about food, I remembered his saying “Me no like spicy”.  He is now 8 and no longer speaks like that but the memory lingered on.  So I thought I’d dig deeper and see what I could dig up.  Almost immediately, I came upon a recipe for “American” Chili Con Carne.  It was from the UK which led me to believe it had likely nowhere near the heat content thought desirable in this country.   And I was certainly right about that.  I was hard-pressed to see how they called it “Chili”.  The Con Carne part tasted as bland as unseasoned chopped meat. I did quite a bit of doctoring to the original recipe.  In my chili, for some variety in texture and deeper beef flavor, I added flank steak cut into strips. I also like big chunks of sweet red pepper in my chili.  It adds another dimension in texture.  I was judicious in using any heat-inducing additions and ended up with a terrific bowl of chili. Mason pronounced it “Not spicy at all, just really good tasting”.  Need I say I was so pleased I thought I’d send it out to you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chicken Marsala

When I served Chicken Marsala one recent weeknight, Andrew asked if I was working on Italian restaurant classics.  As part of its 150th issue, Saveur magazine had published a collection of 150 Classic Recipes which ran the gamut from Buffalo wings to Middle Eastern Kibbeh, from main courses to sweets and even classic cocktails.   And there in their midst was the recipe for Chicken Marsala, made with delicate chicken cutlets, button mushrooms, shallots, garlic and, arguably, Italy’s most famous fortified wine, Marsala. There’s little question that Andrew and my introduction to the dish was in Italian-American restaurants where, as young boys, we thought ourselves very sophisticated when ordering it.  The truth is, the dish may have given its budding gourmets that impression but it is one of the easiest things you can imagine putting together for dinner.  And it does impress with its pan sauce rich in the flavor of sweet Marsala wine. And while your favorite foodies eat it, you can regale them with the story surrounding the dish.