Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Night Supper: For Chile and Chili Lovers

If you're looking for a great new cookbook, and/or an excellent turkey chili recipe, courtesy of my college friend Lynne, check out Patch today. And if you have any recipes that you want to share, please let me know. Thanks for reading, as always.

Sunday Night Supper: Green Chile Chowder and Turkey Chili
Sunday is my day to cook. While my kids do homework, I make meals I won't attempt during the week. An hour alone in the kitchen is therapeutic. And by dinnertime, you're all glad to see each other.

Maybe it's because I've been reading too much about Rick Perry and just finished K.L. Cook's beautiful novel about the Texas Panhandle, The Girl From Charnelle, but I found myself wanting to go to Texas and see what all the fuss was about. Since that wasn't practical, I started to read Lisa Fain's new cookbook, The Homesick Texan Cookbook and decided to make one of her recipes on a Sunday afternoon. New cookbooks make me dreamy, but Fain's cookbook took me to another place. By the time you finish this book, you will be in Texas, eating Frito Pie, shucking corn and driving a tractor.

A seventh generation Texan who moved to New York in her twenties, Fain set about making recipes to remind her of home while living in a small apartment with a tiny kitchen. In her book, she packs in stories of the pimento cheese served at her grandfather's funeral, alongside recipes for fried green tomatoes in buttermilk dressing, short ribs made with Dr. Pepper (Texans love to cook with soda), her grandma's Chocolate Pie, and her Dad's chicken fried steak with cream gravy (a dish she calls "dangerous" because of all the hot oil splattering and small chunks of meat flying.)

Fain offers helpful hints: Run milk over your hands to get rid of the heat from chili peppers. If you want to make your own lard, ask the butcher for back fat and be prepared to stand and stir for an hour while the fat renders. Mixed in with fond memories of her grandmother, she offers up grandma's's recipe for pie crust, which has the odd combination of oil and milk but which Fain says makes the best crust you'll ever eat. There are also excellent-looking recipes for two kinds of Texas chili, crab cakes with chipotle chiles and corn, fancy pants chicken casserole, jalapeno mustard roast chicken, tomato cobbler and tomatillo cheese grits. But the recipe that caught my eye first was the green chile chowder.

Whenever I see a recipe that calls for cumin, cilantro, garlic and lime juice, I'm in. Fain's green chili chowder called for all of that, plus four poblano chiles, two jalapeno chiles, and two pounds of potatoes. Fain tells you to rub the skin off poblano peppers and then chop them. At first, this seemed easy, like peeling a scab. Then it got harder. The poblano skin stuck to the pepper meat. I figured I could stand there for forty minutes and peel the skin off the poblano peppers, or I could tug at the skins gently for one more minute, give up and hope no one was the wiser. I chose the latter.

If you're like me – ambitious but lazy – you will look at those six peppers and think, Oh I don't need to chop all those, the food processor can do that. The food processor can chop chile peppers up to a point, but then you must take your spatula, spoon the peppers out and start chopping them yourself. The good news is that after the stint with the peppers, the rest of the recipe was easy and the chowder was so good, it was shocking. At the end of the night, when I wasn't hungry at all, I was still licking the pot. My kids, my husband and my mother (who showed up unexpectedly) all devoured it.

"Is this fattening?" my younger son asked."Well," I said, "if you only have one cup full, it's fine because it has a lot of protein and vegetables in it." He looked at me; he has to make weight for football. Okay, yes, it's fattening but your lips will be tingling pleasantly for hours and the soup is outrageously delicious. The only complaint I have is that Fain does not tell you how long a recipe takes. This chowder takes an hour.

Emboldened, I decided to make Fain's Seven-Chile Texas Chili the following Sunday. It called for twenty chile peppers! Though it sounds delicious, you don't learn until you turn the page and read about her One-Hour Chili that the Seven-Chile Chili takes all day. I don't think so. I checked out the One-Hour Texas Chili, which looked less daunting, and saw that it called for two teaspoons of masa harina. I didn't have masa harina (dry corn flour) and didn't know where I could get some. (My editor, who hails from Texas, tells me that Fine Fair on the South Orange/Newark border carries it). I wanted to make chili but I wanted it to be easy, or at least, easier. Then, out of the blue, my friend from Chicago emailed me a recipe for turkey chili.

So last Sunday afternoon, I made turkey chili. It breaks the cardinal rule of Texas chili, in that it mixes the chili in with beans, which no self-respecting Texan would do. But if you can get past that, this recipe is a winner. It takes twenty minutes. It is so easy that I was able to start making it, drop my older son off at the gym, go back to cooking, then pick my son up. The chipotle peppers we had weren't in adobo sauce but the dish was teriffic anyway. And because part of me can't leave well enough alone, and the other part loves to jam garlic through the garlic press, I added two cloves of mashed garlic.

Lisa Fain's Green Chile Chowder


4 poblano chiles

2 jalapeño chiles

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons lime juice

Grated Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla chips and chopped cilantro, on the side

Roast poblano chiles and jalapeños under broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes each side. Place poblano chiles in paper sack or plastic food storage back, close tightly and let steam.

Meanwhile, remove stems fans seeds from jalapeños and dice. After 20 minutes, take poblano chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove seeds and stems and then dice the poblano chiles.

In large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 10 minutes until they brown. Add garlic and cook for 3 more seconds. Add to the pot the diced poblano and jalapeño chiles, the potatoes, chicken broth, cilantro and cumin. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Scoop out 2 cups of soup and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup until smooth, then mix the chunky set-aside soup with the smooth. Add milk and half-and-half to soup and cook until warm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in lime juice and serve warm or cold, with grated cheese, tortilla chips and cilantro on the side.

Lynne's Turkey Chili


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, mashed

1 green bell pepper, seed and diced

2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced, plus 2 teaspoons sauce

1 to 1.5 pounds pound ground turkey meat

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (Lynne uses pinto beans)

Kosher salt, to taste

1/2 cup graded cheddar cheese, for topping

Garnish (which can and should be turned into guacamole)

1 avocado, peeled, sliced, mashed

1 lime, juiced

1 small red onion, diced

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and bell pepper until tender, 6-8 minutes.

Add chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and cook for one minute.

Add turkey, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, and cook until it is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices and beans. Bring to a boil. Redue heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes (add water if you want to thin it out). Season with salt.

With fall here and winter not too far off, it's a great time to make chili. Do you have a favorite recipe?Tell us in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment