Sunday, December 18, 2011

Operation 100 Goals--Day 28

Goal:  Continue working hard in the kitchen (splitting dinner duty with Amanda, trying new recipes, experimenting with pairings, etc.)

            Today, I’m throwing together a good ol’ fashioned chili.  It’s Sunday, which means football, which means “man-food” day, which means chili is on the menu.  I love making chili because it’s an adventure every time.  I never make chili the exact same way as I did the previous time, and I like to throw in new ingredients to see what happens.  The new ingredients I have today that I’m excited about are hot garlic powder, Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, and white corn and black bean salsa.  I’m also pulling out an old standby that I don’t always include in my chili—pan-fried sliced potatoes.  It’s gonna be a money batch!
            What I love about making chili is that it lends itself to the experimental nature I’ve mentioned above.  Basically, you need meat, some veggies to provide flavor, tomato-based wet ingredients for juiciness, and spices.  The manner in which these basics manifest themselves is entirely up to the cook.
            Meat-wise, I’m going with ground sirloin and chicken today.  Here’s the rationale: I wanted to go with ground turkey, but for ease-of-shopping, I had to go to Save-a-Lot (which I did—hey-yo!), and the store was ground turkey-less.  Therefore, I got a package of ground sirloin (always good—just less healthy) and found a can of chicken chili with beans.  I figure this can will get us another meat in there and provide the chili with a flavor base.  I will brown up the ground sirloin with my veggies early on in the process, and the chili can will get dumped into the CrockPot when the time comes.
            As for veggies, I’m going with my go-to ingredients of green peppers, onions, and garlic.  These will provide the chili with some essential chili-like flavor.  After diced up, the veggies are browned with olive oil and the meat.  I also like to introduce some of the spices during this stage so that the meat and veggies take on some additional flavor.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m also throwing in some fried potatoes.  These get dumped from the can into the meat/veggie pan after those ingredients are done and added to the CrockPot.
            In order to provide the juiciness, I will use what we had in the cupboard: whole tomatoes and diced tomatoes.  Because whole tomatoes are not ideal, I’m planning on mashing them up with a potato masher.  This point in the process is also where I’ll throw in the salsa (from Save-a-Lot), Frank’s RedHot (had on hand) and chili sauce (from Save-a-Lot), and tomato paste (from Save-a-Lot), which gives the chili some nice concentrated tomato sweetness.  After the chili simmers for a little while, I check the flavor by tasting a spoonful.  Spices are added accordingly, including chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and hot garlic powder.  I continuously taste the chili as it slow-cooks, adding Frank’s, chili powder, etc. as necessary.
            All of these ingredients will sit in the CrockPot on high until we feel like eating.  The longer the ingredients sit, the more flavorful the chili becomes.  Again, this is a promising batch, and I patiently await the outcome.  I’ll check in later with the verdict… 

Here are some pictures from the cooking session:


            The chili was darn good, and its goodness was accentuated by the crusty dinner rolls we dipped into it.  I would define the chili as spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.  Mixing in sour cream cut the heat down to just the right level.  Admittedly, it was hard to pinpoint tastes from the new ingredients I tried, though the corn from the salsa added a noticeable pop of sweetness in some bites.  About the chili, my wife said, “It’s like a ‘garbage plate’ chili.  There’s so much stuff in it!”  Even Tim Tebow seemed to be eying our bowls from inside the TV screen.  Another positive: lots of leftovers to freeze for the future!