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 →

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.

Barbacoa Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

Achiote Packet

Achiote packet

5lb Beef Roast (cheap cut = good)*

2 dried Ancho pepper**

2 dried Pasilla pepper**

4 cloves garlic

1 Blood Orange quartered***

1 lime – halved

1 yellow onion – quartered

2 Turkish Bay leaves

2 tbsp Cumin

1 tbsp Mexican Oregano

1 tbsp black pepper

3 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 packets Achiote powder

12oz Beer (Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo)

32oz Beef Stock (unsalted)

Method:

Cut the roast into 4-5 evenly sized chunks.

Place the beef in the slow cooker.  De-seed the dried peppers and add to the pot.  Add seasonings to the meat and rub to coat. Pour the beer and stock around the beef, and add in your orange and lime.  Tuck a bay leaf on either side of the meat.  Put your lid on, set to low, and come back in 8 hours.  You can halve the time by cooking on the high setting.

Beef in the crock pot, ready start

When the beef is tender and falling apart, shred it with a pair of forks. You can then use the beef as a base for other dishes (tacos, nachos, rice, burritos, etc…). Simmer any remaining juices down and add to a red sauce for use in enchiladas.

Notes:

* – I recommend putting this on a rack and a sheet pan and allowing it to dry in your fridge for a day or two before preparing

**- You can get big bags of dried chilis at your local Mexican store.  I recommend these over grocery stores since the stock is more likely to turn over quickly.

***- if you can find a blood orange, they are fantastic in this dish.  If not, just substitute the orange of your choice.

Since I have two young children who decidedly do not like spicy food (much to my wife and my dismay), this recipe is flavorful but not spicy.  If you are looking for something with a bit more punch, add in some .  You can find them at most grocery stores, and they are a great thing to keep in your pantry.  Add as much or as little as you like for a nice flavor/heat boost.

This recipe is a good one to do in a crock pot or slow cooker.  You could easily do it in a roasting pan with some foil or in a dutch oven with excellent results. I would recommend low and slow, in the 250° range for 8-10 hours with periodic checks to make sure the cooking liquid is adequate.

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.

 

Black Bean Soup, Served

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

Get the Black Bean and Chorizo Soup Recipe here.

About the recipe:

As I write this, it is the beginning of January 2018, and the East Coast is in the grips of a huge winter cold front. Outside my door, it is a whopping 8 degrees fahrenheit. This makes it officially Soup Weather.  I should preface this recipe by pointing out that I am not a soup person, by and large.  My wife can (and will) happily eat soup year round.  I tend to be much more picky about when and what soups I will indulge in.  With that being said, this is one soup that I will devour anytime I make it (summer or winter).  A few years ago I made it during the dog days of summer for our housewarming party and had nary a leftover despite the heat.

This soup is packed with flavor while also being easy to make and relatively hands off once you get the initial prep and cooking done.  I like doing this recipe in the oven both for consistency as well as ease.  Once you get the soup to a simmer, you just pop it in the oven and check it occasionally.  No muss, no fuss.

Recipe Notes:

I highly recommend searching out a smoked ham hock to use for this recipe.  I have made these beans in the past and skipped it, but I am here to say that the soup is much superior with it added.  With the smoked ham hock meat shredded and added back into the dish, you get small bursts of smokey goodness that come as a surprise every time.

Also, if you’re in a pinch, you can skip using the veggies and go with a couple cans of Rotel.  It is nowhere near as delicious as when you make this recipe with raw ingredients, but if you are ever trying to get dinner on the table for a couple of kids it will do.

Speaking of kids…  This is a dish that my wife and I have employed to great effect in feeding our two children.  For one, they love chips.  Using tortilla chips for a bit of crunch in this recipe helps make it kid friendly around here.  Adding chopped spinach in as well ups the nutrition factor and gets some much needed (and otherwise avoided) greens into the boys’ diet.  If your children are anything like ours, I recommend chopping it into fairly small pieces so they can’t pick it out.  The spinach disappears behind the cumin and pork flavors that dominate.  You can always cut back on the amount of Poblano you are adding to the dish although we had no issues using a medium sized one that we thoroughly deseeded.  Depending on the brand of chorizo you use (Johnsonville is easy to find in grocery stores and easier for spice intolerant folks) you can also control your spice level.  Keep in mind,  the broth from this soup holds most of the spice, so up the bean to broth ratio for the kiddos.  If you are preparing this without the spicy concerns, feel free to ramp up the heat with the pepper of your choice (we like adding a tabasco off our bush).

My wife points out that a nice homemade creme fraiche would be a nice addition to this meal

As always, season as you go and taste, taste, taste.  It’s your dinner, make it the way you like to eat it.

Recipe Tweak:

At some point, I would really like to try this using Spanish chorizo.  Spanish chorizo is a harder sausage than its Mexican cousin.  Rather than the ground product this recipe calls for, with Spanish chorizo you would slice this up and add it early on.

Leftover Possibilities:

This another one of those really flexible dishes.  You can reheat it and eat it again as a soup.  Alternatively, you could use the beans (heated, drained) as a side dish for something else.  Personally, I like to puree them and mix with some melted cheese to make a helluva good bean dip.

If you are making this in the summer, you could drain the beans and mix with avocado, fresh diced tomato, serrano chili, olive oil, and some lime juice for a delicious pico de gallo.