Finished Chili

My Chili Recipe

Read about my love of chili here.

Ingredients:

1lb thick cut bacon, cubed

1lb stew beef, cut into ~1/2″ cubes

2lbs 80/20 ground beef

2 yellow onions, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 poblano pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4T Mexene Chili Powder

2T Chili Powder

1T Ancho Chili Powder

2T Paprika

1T Kosher Salt (more as needed)

2T Cumin

2T Tomato Paste (I use Cento)

2T Beef Better than Bouillon

2 12oz Dark Lager (I recommend Negra Modelo)

1 box tomato sauce (approx 13oz)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 pack unflavored gelatin

32oz Unsalted Beef Stock

1 dried Guajillo chili (seeds removed) Continue reading →

My summer pasta

Spring Pasta – A Meal to Enjoy with Friends

Get the recipe here.

Spring is Near

The weather is finally starting to change (last week it was sunny, this week it snowed – welcome to Spring in the Tennessee Valley).  It is time to enjoy the weather, while also enjoying some of the delicious vegetables that the season has to offer.  If you are at all like me, you’re also trying to take it easy after a winter spent eating everything in sight that looks good.

Sometimes it’s good to skip the cream sauces and go a different route. Continue reading →

Soup, with garnish

Beer Cheese Soup Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

1lb thick cut bacon – sliced and diced

2 leeks – diced

1 medium Poblano pepper – diced

3 carrots – peeled and grated (fine grate)

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1 tbsp good prepared mustard (I recommend Lusty Monk Burn in Hell*)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika (get a good Hungarian one for Pete’s sake)

1 tbsp dried thyme

Dash Cayenne

1 Turkish Bay Leaf

(2) 12oz beers (Sierra Nevada Porter recommended)

1qt Chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1tbsp chicken base or similar (Better than Boullion)

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (L&P recommended)

Salt and Pepper to taste (white pepper preferred)

20oz Heavy Cream

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

6oz Gouda* – shredded

6oz sharp cheddar** – shredded

chives (for garnish)

olive oil (for garnish)

reserved bacon (for garnish)

Mise-en-place:

Dice up your bacon and get it going in a heavy bottomed dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat.  While that is cooking, get your leeks and your Poblano diced (and remember to ALWAYS wash your leeks well). These two ingredients will go in together.  In another bowl, you can add your chopped garlic and shredded carrots.  Measure out your spices and have them ready to add together as well. Ditto for your cheese.

Method:

Add bacon to a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Stir frequently.  When bacon begins to brown and foamy, remove from pan to a bowl lined with paper towels to drain.  Reserve the cooked bacon for garnishing later.

Add leeks and Poblano pepper to pan.  Cook until vegetables wilt and have released most of their liquid.  (about 5 minutes)

Add in the carrots and garlic.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.

Put the bay leaf and your spices into the pot.  Toss in some salt and grind in some fresh pepper.  Stir.  The heat will wake up your spices.  Enjoy the aromas!

Pour the 2 beers in.  Stir quickly to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  That fond is pure flavor and you want it!

Return to a simmer and reduce soup by 3/4.

Add chicken base, worcestershire sauce, and chicken stock.  Return to a simmer.

Reduce by half over low to medium heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

While the soup is simmering, make your roux.  Add flour to melted butter and whisk over medium heat.  You want your roux to thicken a bit, but not take on too much color.  More color = more flavor.  I recommend a tan roux.

Add cream and return to a simmer.  Adjust seasonings for flavor.

Whisk roux into soup a bit at a time.  You may not need it all, so do not add all of it at once.  After each addition, whisk soup thoroughly to incorporate.  Continue to simmer so the roux will activate and thicken the soup.  Add roux to desired thickness.  Aim for just shy of your ideal, as the cheese will provide a bit of thickening as well.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bacon cooking. Drool on!

Garnish:

Ladle soup into bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over soup.  Sprinkle chives over soup.  Place some bacon on top.  Serve with Crusty Herb Bread.

Notes:

* If you can find this brand and mustard, get some.  Lusty Monk is consistently awesome.

** I use Boars Head Gouda and sharp cheddar since it’s easy to find and consistently good for the price.  This combination just works great and is easy to get ahold of.

Spicy cocktail weenies

Cocktail Weenies of Doom!

Get the recipe here.

The Lowdown:

I have a confession to make.  I love cocktail weenies.  When I was a kid, they always turned up at parties somewhere (usually in some version of barbeque sauce) and I would wolf them down.  In the years since then, not much has changed.  I still love cocktail weenies.  Sadly, they are not generally considered a gourmet treat when you show up with them at a dinner party nowadays.  This recipe is my response to that conceit.

Yes, I say conceit.  Cocktail weenies are a wonderful thing to cook, under the right circumstances.  And they are delicious.  Trust me.  Rant over, let us continue.

The genesis for this recipe comes from a dinner party I threw several years ago for some friends. The entire dinner was centered around beer (specifically Stouts) and every dish featured beer as a component. Since I was going to be smoking the main course for the dinner, I decided to do my first course on the smoker as well.  These weenies (if you haven’t guessed by now) were that first course.  It ended up being a fun play on a childhood favorite that definitely gave everyone something to talk about.  They also disappeared from my serving bowl at a rapid pace.

Fast forward a couple of year, and my wife and I decide to throw a housewarming party for our new home.  I decided to make these again, since they are easy and delicious.  Yet again, they disappeared at a speedy pace.

My mother-in-law even loves these things, and she doesn’t even eat spicy food.  Go figure.

So here you go, enjoy some adult weenies!  Savor the spice!

Notes:

Using a better cocktail weenie is recommended for this recipe.  Don’t go cheap on your weenies.

Negra Modelo or a nice full flavored beer works well in this.

Having made this recipe with and without using , I find the version with to be far superior. The peppers and the adobo break down and give the weenies a nice spicy coating.

Spicy Cocktail Weenies Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

Mise-en-place

2 packs Lil Smokies or similar cocktail weenie of your choice

1 can *

1 large Yellow Onion (diced)

4x Garlic Cloves (roughly chopped)

12oz Chicken Stock

12oz Beer

4oz Tomato Paste**** (if not using Chipotles in Adobo)

1tbsp Salt

Method 1 (Smoker)**:

In a foil pan, combine all ingredients.  Stir to combine. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in smoker.  Cook for 2 hours or until hungry.

Method 2 (Crock Pot)***:

Combine all ingredients in crock pot.  Stir to combine.  Set to High setting, and cook for 3 hours or until hungry.

Serving Suggestions:

If you are having a cocktail party and use the Smoker method, just transfer the weenies to a separate bowl with some of the broth.  Serve with some toothpicks and a good spicy mustard on the side.  You will be amazed how quickly they disappear. This also happens if you serve them straight out of the crock pot, a method I also endorse.

My kids absolutely love eating these weenies on top of some cheap yellow rice from the store. Go figure.  (Confession time, my wife and I also like to eat them this way).

Leftovers also go great with beans.  Or in a lunchbox as an easy snack.

To adult it up a bit, you could add some kale close to the end of the cooking time and eat this as a kale and sausage soup.

Notes:

*- Omit these if you don’t like spicy or are feeding the littles. Alternate option, de-seed a dried and chili and add instead.  Chili flavor without chili heat.

**- I prefer the flavor from this method to the crock pot version.  That being said, I generally do not fire up the smoker just for cocktail weenies.  The weenies are a great side item to throw on the smoker when you are already cooking something else (turkey, pork butt, brisket, etc…).  With these, if the meat is taking its time to get tender, you have something to snack on in the meantime.

***- The crock pot method is super convenient and gets great results, but the smoker method generally has better flavor.  It is also great because it can travel pretty well in the crock pot if you are headed to the party vs. hosting the party.

**** – If you are not going the spicy route, I recommend adding a bit of tomato paste.  This gives the broth a bit more body and makes for a more flavorful dish overall.

Beef Barbacoa

Get the recipe here.

The Where and the Why

When I was 16, my dad decided it was time for me to get a job.  Aside from wanting me to pay for my own gas, I think he wanted to get me out of the house a few nights a week so he could have some peace.  I spent a good few months putting out horribly written applications at local fast food places, grocery stores, and even applying at a law firm as a runner.  All of these applications resulted in a grand total of nada.  In all honestly, I cannot say I was putting in much effort (besides the law firm one, which had me thinking of Perry Mason and Matlock).  And so, after several months of fruitless pursuit, my father took matters into his own hands.  He worked with several guys who owned a local Tex-Mex bar downtown (not the greatest area at the time, but hey, a jobs a job).  Somehow or another, he finagled me a shot and from there I was in.  I would work weekends running food and make some spending money.  In the process, I got my first real taste of working both in a professional kitchen and being around Mexican cuisine.

While the food we served was not the most authentic, many of the employees who worked there were quite authentic.  Between the family meals they would make at work and the newly created Food Network my interest in cooking was peaked.  This recipe is a bit of a hybrid from the beef we would make at that first job, with much of what I learned technique wise from my second job (coincidentally another Mexican restaurant).  It also shares some influences from Mayan cuisine, specifically Cochinita Pibil.

Preparation:

I tend to make this in my crock pot, as it’s perfectly suited to getting tossed in and left to cook for an extended period of time.  Barbacoa is generally a slow roasted meat combined with a red sauce.  This recipe provides a super flavorful beef with a broth you can use in combination with the sauce of your choice to make other dishes.  Because the chili peppers are seeded before cooking, you get a nice depth of flavor without adding heat to the dish.  You can easily add heat if you like (and a nice flavor kick I highly recommend) by adding some .

I also recommend slicing the beef up into smaller pieces for cooking when cooking in a crock pot.  I chose not to when writing this blog (as you can see in photographs) and regretted it when my beef was not done in time to feed my two children.  That being said, the end result was still delicious.

Serving Suggestions:

This is another one of those super flexible dishes.  It is basically a protein you can use to make other dishes.  The yield is enough for several meals, which works out great if you are making one dinner and want leftovers.  In the picture above, you can see the enchiladas we made with the barbacoa.  We have also made tacos, nachos, and burritos with the barbacoa.  All have been excellent.  As a side note, I highly recommend pairing this with a fried egg or scrambled eggs.  Making a stacked Enchilada with a fried egg on top in combination with this barbacoa is a thing of beauty.

 

Hot dogs

The Hot Dog/Sausage Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

Onions and garlic, ready to go

1/4 cup Butter

1 whole yellow onion (diced)

2 cloves Garlic (sliced)

2 tbsp spicy brown mustard (Lusty Monk Recommended)

8ea Sausages (Hot Dogs, Brats, etc…)

1/2 cup Chicken Broth

12oz Beer

Top Sliced Buns (your preference)

Method:

Add butter, mustard, garlic, and sausage of your choice to a non-stick pan*. Add chicken stock and beer.  Cover top of pan loosely in aluminum foil.

Over medium heat, bring the pan to a boil.  Boil for about 5-10 mins with the foil on.  Remove foil – CAREFULLY – and discard.

Add diced onions and shake pan to distribute.  Continue cooking.

The cooking liquid will reduce, and butter will begin to fry the onions and sausages.  You want the onions to brown, and a bit of color to appear on the sausages while they crisp up.  Things will smell amazing.

These are delicious on warm toasted/buttered buns.  Get top sliced buns for goodness sakes!

Beer, hot dogs, butter, mustard, garlic, broth

Notes:

* I’ve tried this with a cast iron skillet, and a cast steel pan.  Personally, I feel the results are best in a non-stick pan.

This recipe scales pretty well.  More onions = better if there is a choice.

Hot dogs

The Best Damned Hot Dog and Bratwurst Recipe I Know

Get the recipe here.

The Story:

There’s just something about sausage.  Aside from being delicious, it happens to be tremendously flexible.  Sausages, cooked up and served on a tasty fresh bun are one of those things most people grow up loving.  Be it brats or hot dogs, there’s just that soft spot we all have for them (and if you don’t love a good hot dog, well, move on you heathen!).  When I was a kid I went a whole year eating nothing but hot dogs (or so my parents are happy to tell everyone). I really can’t argue, I love the damned things.

When I was a kid, my Dad was the one (knowingly or unknowlingly) who set me on the path to this recipe.  Aside from old school boiled hot dogs (I have fond memories of my dad picking up hot dogs for me at gas stations), the other hot dog I grew up with was the movie theatre roller hot dog (which I also enjoy, fyi).  My dad however, changed all of that when one day he introduced me to the joys of fried hot dogs.  While messy, and possibly painful to cook, they were head and shoulders above the gas station weenies I had enjoyed before.  My dad taught me how to fry those tasty hot dogs in butter.  If you’ve never tried it, I recommend giving it a try.

Then in the early ’90’s, my dad took me to his hometown of Miami, FL to meet his Dad.  While there, he took me to one of his childhood haunts, a place called Mae and Daves.  Now, when my dad went there as a kid, it was a very different place than when he introduced me to it.  When I went, it had a hotel full of prostitutes next door, a pretty eccentric auto painting shop across the street, and was in the middle of Little Havana.  That being said, it also had some amazing 1/4lb beer steamed hot dogs (something my dad and I sought to duplicate at home).

In 1989, at the ripe old age of 13, my dad took me on a trip to Europe.  One of the places we went to repeatedly was a Wurst shop at the Munich train station.  Basically, a German version of a corner burger shop but with sausages instead of burgers.  The sausages (bratwurst and weisswurst) were grilled on a flat top and served with a nice roll.  They were fantastic.

All of these things led to this recipe.  Its simple but delicious.  My kids love it.  My wife loves it.  Hell, I love it.

This recipe combines a bit from all of these memories.  The sausages steam in beer to begin with, then fry in butter with onions at the end.  Good brown mustard and a hearty beer pair up to add flavor.  Add in a good roll, and top the sausage off with the caramelized onions from the pan and you will find your sausage happy place.

This one is for my dad – thanks for all the great memories.

Notes:

This recipe works great for hot dogs or sausages of many types.  Get a good hot dog (I really like the Private Selection Brisket variety from Kroger’s) or whichever version of Brat you like.  Either one will work in this recipe.  You can use the same recipe, minus the mustard and it will even work for Italian Sausages.  The recipe also keeps fairly well if you’re tailgaiting and not cooking on site.

Use a good mustard for this.  You do not need much in the recipe, but a little goes a long way – so pick a good one.  I recommend Lusty Monk products since they are consistently fantastic.

As for beer, I recommend a nice Negra Modelo to cook this with, as well as to enjoy it with.

Enjoy!

Baked garlic cheesy bread

Cheese and Garlic Bread Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

1 loaf Italian Country (or similar) bread

1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter

1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

Sprinkle paprika

splash Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Method:

Preheat oven to 425•. Line a  with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl mix butter, cheese, garlic, and herbs together with a fork.  Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Mix.  Taste and add salt and pepper.

Butter and herbs

Butter and herbs in bow

Cheese added

Cheese added

Mixed

Take your bread and make one long slice down the length of the bread, about 3/4 deep through the bread.  Now make perpendicular slices every inch or so.  Your goal is to make lots of room for that butter mixture.  Be sure and spread the slots open so the cheese and butter melt evenly (unlike in my photos, where I forgot to).  No one you actually listen to will ever complain about there being too much butter or cheese on their bread.

Next you are going to spread the garlic/butter/cheese mix into all the slots you just cut into the bread.  Try and keep it even, and don’t stress if you have extra leftover – just spread that over the top of the bread.  Keep in mind, your goal is some buttery-garlicy-cheesy goodness.

Place on baking sheet and bake until golden and delicious (about 10-15 mins).

Devour!

Notes:

I like to use an Italian Country loaf I find at Krogers near me for this.  The boys flat out demolish this every time I make it.

Cheese is good.  Add more if you like.  Your cardiologist will thank me.

Be sure and taste the compound butter before you put it on the bread – sometimes it can do with a bit of salt added.

You can also sprinkle some kosher salt over the loaf before you bake it for a neat effect.