Monday, February 06, 2006

Best. Chili. Evar.

We have a food backlog at our house. From drooling over recipes in books, and from haunting the nearby farmers' market twice a week (though we have cut back), even from foraging simply because certain things are in season and must be gathered — we have too much food on hand.
Add to that the pressures of this darned blog — with the cooking events, holiday meals and general show-offiness of the food blogosphere — and I've got too much in the pipeline to bother with Cranky's manly annual yearning for something as trite as chili for the Super Bowl.
And yet. And yet.
There we were in the kitchen together yesterday, performing dual culinary pyrotechnics, side by side. Creating completely different meals, at the same time, on the same stove, in our little (but apparently well-laid-out) space.
And then we got to eat the results! I prepared something for blogging about later (I'm a prisoner of this business, I tell you!) and Cranky cooked up a perfectly logical, temporally relevant pot of the Best. Chili. Evar.
And the good part (aside from the fantastic chili) is that he decided to make a Small Recipe, so we wouldn't be burdened by extra stuff that needed to be consumed, when silly Cookiecrumb is clamoring after the next new thing to try, leftovers be damned.
He started with a reasonable chunk of pork from one pork chop, about 1/3 pound. You can buy one pork chop; the butcher doesn't think you're weird. But then Cranky had to cajole butcher into giving him an appropriately small quantity of beef. And once Cranky explained that "It's just the two of us and..." the butcher kindly offered to lop off a hunk of chuck, again about 1/3 pound. To that, Cranky added a slightly smaller quantity of Mexican chorizo (at our store it's sold in little sausage casings, so two tiny nuggets was just right). The chorizo itself is so well-spiced that not a lot more seasoning was needed.
I'm not going to explain the procedure. I just want to brag about the ingredients Cranky used. In addition to the meat, he cooked up some chopped onion and garlic, hacked tomatillos, lots of good ground dried chilis (various types, blended in the pan) and a good bloop of our own frozen local tomato sauce. The beans, tender pinks, cooked separately. Once the beans were nearly finished, everything went together into a slow cooker for a couple of hours. Salt, adjustments, yadda, yadda. Drizzles of beer were added to maintain a good soupiness... and then.
Oh my.
(Jeez, aren't those beans enormous? No. It's just another one of Cookiecrumb's blog addictions: children's cooking sets.)
PS: Blogger will be out of service for an hour this evening beginning at 7 p.m. Pacific time.


obachan said...

Mmmm, maybe this is something I should try with my slow cooker.
I love this photo! : ) The chili looks really nice in that pot.

b'gina said...

I've been trolling through my packed stuff, looking for small dishes to use for pics. :G:

Also, it's nice to see someone else using chorizo for their chili seasoning. Go, Cranky.

Dagny said...

When is dinner served? I don't feel like cooking this weekna and I'm coming to your house. Tell Cranky to plan for another person.

ilva said...

It's a neat photo, really nice and I didn't even realize that the beans were too big, that's observant for there any hope for me?

rae said...

i laud cranky's wisdom in generating a half-batch. i made a hideously giant vat of the stuff myself last week and can vouch for the truth in the saying that too much of a good thing, is, well, too much.

cookiecrumb said...

Say, Obachan, how is your new slow cooker working out? I'll go visit your blog.
b'gina: Oh god, are you still packed? Cranky dragged about a dozen boxes into the living room from the garage the other day, and I'll just now loading the hutch.
dagny: Darn. See, he made a *small* batch. :(
Ilva! You, of the Sable Eye, missed that? :)
rae: I've actually been thinking about buying a half-size freezer, just for times like that. Heck, there's a bit more space in the garage now!

drbiggles said...

My wife found our decent sized slow cooker the other day, got some stuff planned. But since she's doing it, it probably won't make it to MH.
My last batch of chile was nasty, no not the vegan one. A friend gave me some chile powder, it ruined it. Dang. Maybe some other time, hey.


kudzu said...

It was heartening to read that I'm not the only one unpacked! I keep telling myself it's because this house is only a wayside stop and I keep finding things I can leave packed until next move. On the other hand, I had a friend here and we were doing Indian cooking and I realized how many condiments and sauces I had thrown out when I moved in October. (Several dishes ended up costing much more because I had to keep running out for new spices and stuff.)

I love the children's cooking utensils. This was an especially nice little pot!

Your post had another great purpose, to convince cooks to make friends with the butchers -- even in supermarkets they'll be helpful when they can tell you know what you're doing.

kudzu said...

PS Of course I meant that I am not unpacked. Wishful thinking.

drbiggles said...

Oh! Whar's the cornbread?

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, hell, cornbread. I'm looking at a new cookbook from the library, some guy's New Southern Baking, and he, like Biggles, prefers to leave the cookie ingredients out of his cornbread (though he admits it results in a fairly raggedy piece of bread). Um, we ate our chili with lardy flour tortillas.
Kudzu: I made huge progress unpacking today, but like you, I have pangs about wanting to leave stuff in the boxes for the inevitable next move... Still, it was glorious to get out some of the cherished (and sometimes just plain hokey) old kitchen stuff.
And one more thing: Yes, make friends with your butcher. We have a fishmonger we L-uu-u-ve (and he also sells four-legged meat), and Cranky has befriended a guy at Whole Foods (the one who lopped off the hunk of chuck). Then there's the folks at the farmers' markets.
ALERT: Anyone know if Marin Sun Farms is all done? They didn't come to the Marin market on Sunday, and one of the other vendors there expressed concern that they might not come back... I hate to be freaky...

drbiggles said...

RAGGEDY ?!?!?!? Well I NEVER !

That boy needs to be sent back North where he belongs.
It ain't raggedy. It's toothesome and rich. Without the dumb sugar, the flavor from the corn and bacon drippings can come through. Without the stupid flour the corn meal takes over and gives you a texture that you find yourself dreaming about.
When I have anything less, I take a bite and toss. That ain't cornbread, no sir. I suppose if there is any downside, it ruins you for anything less.
I'll never make corn "cake" again, not even once. There's nothing there to enjoy, it's a homogenous fluff nothin', a great big nothin'.