Texas Chili

It’s Superbowl Weekend and what better to go with the big game than a big bowl of homemade chili. I think everyone in Texas has a favorite chili recipe but no one seems to agree whether there should be beans or not. Well, I’ve had great chili both ways so I am not partial to one way or the other. I know some people say real Texas chili has no beans, but, I don’t agree. I’ve always had chili in Texas and I find it both ways, so that tells me there’s no “one way” to make your chili. The best thing is to find a simple recipe that you can go back to time and again. Also, your go-to recipe shouldn’t include a prepackaged pouch of spices, that’s just not right. This is just such a recipe and it does not have beans.

This recipe is very flexible and you can customize it to meet you heat tolerance and available spices. It’s loosely based on the chili recipe provided by Congressman J. J. Pickle from the 1oth District, TX. That would be the Austin area at the time he was in Congress. This also is the district that LBJ represented from 1937 until 1949.

This will serve 6 to 8. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

20160207_Texas_Chili.jpg

Texas chili simmering

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chuck roast, chili ground or small cubed
  • 3 tbls corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Hot water
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or 1 8oz can of tomato sauce)
  • 3 tbsp masa harina (or flour)

Directions

Put the corn oil into a large, cast-iron pot. Add the meat, onions and garlic and sear over high heat, stirring constantly, until the meat turns light grey. Add the hot water to just cover the meat, onions and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT or the masa harina. If needed, you can add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours. On a low temp, this can go for hours. Skim of the grease. If the chili is too thin, sprinkle with the masa harina and stir, then simmer for 15 additional minutes to thicken.

To serve this, put into a bowl and add your favorite condiments. I like to sprinkle it with cheddar cheese and some finely chopped onions. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream. This chili goes really well with some homemade cornbread or the Texas favorite Saltine crackers.

Chorizo, Squash, and Jalapeno Corn-Bread Stuffing

Here is our golden brown stuffing right out of the oven

UPDATE – this is a repost from a couple years ago. I seem to have messed up that post and couldn’t find it. I found out that my bookmark wasn’t working and that I had changed the URL. That post is here.

This is from a recipe that we found in a magazine a long time ago. It was part of a group of recipes that we used to create a southwestern inspired Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a great alternative to the standard stuffing with a lot more flavor and complexity. By the way, don’t be afraid of the jalapenos, you’re going to remove the seeds and interior veins so it won’t be too hot, but you can cut back on the amount of the peppers if you have sensitive eaters at your table.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled ans cut into 1/2 cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped green onions (about 8 large)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded & deveined jalapeno peppers (about 4 large peppers)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Cornbread (2 packages of cornbread mix – see Quick Buttermilk Cornbread below)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the squash and 1/2 cup of water in a large skillet. Bring the water to boil over medium high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the squash is almost tender. Uncover them and sprinkle them with salt. Boil uncovered until squash is tender and water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let them cool completely.

Then, saute the chorizo in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked and fat is rendered. About 5 minutes. Break up the chorizo with the back of a fork. Now, strain the chorizo and dippings over a bowl.

Using the same skillet that you just cooked the chorizo, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, green onion, celery and chilies. Saute the items for 8 minutes then mix in the drained chorizo, cilantro, sage, and squash. You can make this a day ahead. Just store it covered in your refrigerator.

Here is our chorizo mixture. We made it on Wednesday night so it will be easier to put together on Thanksgiving morning.

Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a glass baking dish. Coarsely crumble corn bread into a large bowl and mix in the chorizo mixture. Using a small bowl, beat eggs and 1/2 cup broth. Now, add the egg mixture to the stuffing. Gently toss this together. If the mix is too dry, mix in additional broth, 1/4 cups at a time. Transfer this stuffing mix into the prepared glass baking dish and cover with buttered foil, butter side down. Bake this for 45 minutes and then uncover and bake until the top of the stuffing is crisp and gold, about 15 minutes.

Here is our stuffing ready to go into the oven.

CORNBREAD

For the cornbread, use 2 packages and make this before you’re ready to begin putting the stuffing together. You can use any cornbread you like. If you are at a loss, here’s an easy recipe for home made cornbread from scratch or you can use the recipe below:

Cornbread

Here’s the finished cornbread. A classic, just like my Granny would have made in this old skillet.

Mix the following:

  • two 8.5 ounce packages of corn bread mix
  • 1.5 cups of buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

Blend these items in a large bowl, then transfer to a prepared pan. Bake the bread until tester inserted into the center is clean, about 25 minutes. When it’s done, cool it on a rack. You can make this a day ahead. Just wrap the bread in foil and store it at room temp until you’re ready.

Roasted Beets & Carrots

Roasted Beets & Carrots

The finished product just out of the oven.

Beets, they are one of the foods that people really like or really dislike. I’ve slowly discovered that almost everyone who eats them had a bad experience as a child with beets. My Granny always fed them to me and now I always think of her when I eat them. I guess that’s just one of the reason I love eating these bright, sweet roots.

We’ve been making this roasted beet recipe for a while and really enjoy it. It has a great earthy flavor and is very colorful. In the ingredients below, I list 1 red and 1 golden beet. You can use any kind of beet that you like. We usually just use red beets but this past Saturday we were walking around the new Whole Foods in Far South Austin and saw these bunches of golden beets that looked so good we couldn’t leave without them! There are also some that are red and white that are great if you can find them.

Beets & Carrots

Here is the gold beet (uncut), 1/2 of the red beet and our carrots

If you buy your beets in a bunch, keep the greens from the tops for use later. We’ve come up with really great kale and beet leaf slaw that I’ll be posting soon.

Beets & Carrots

Everyone knows that beets bleed. That is to say, they will turn everything red if given the opportunity. To keep all the vegetables in the dish from becoming solid pink, rinse the red beets in cold water with a couple tablespoons of vinegar before you mix the ingredients together. This doesn’t effect the flavor but it is does make the finished product look better.

Ingredients

  • 1 red beet
  • 1 golden beet
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), cut cloves in half length-wise
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste (about a teaspoon)
  • course kosher salt to taste (about a teaspoon)
Beets, Carrots & Rosemary

Here are the beets, carrots and rosemary before we mixed it all together.

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Cut the beets and carrots into bite sized pieces and then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Put the beet and carrot mixture into a baking dish and cover in foil. We also line the baking dish with foil to make it easier to clean up.
  • Cook 30 minutes at 425 degrees

Rosemary Grilled Chicken

Tonight we decided to try something a little different for our chicken. Rather than roasting it, we wanted to grill it. We saw Bobby Flay grill a chicken the other night on one of the cooking shows and he had butterflied the whole chicken before grilling it. We found his recipe online for a Rosemary Bricked Grilled Chicken and the ingredients are very similar to the Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Garlic so we combined the two to come up with our own hybrid recipe. For started, we axed the bricks, because we don’t have any laying around.

Grilled Chicken with Rosemary Pesto (before)

A look at the chicken while marinating

Ingredients

  • 1 small chicken (We usually get a 5  to 6 pound bird)
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (we cheated and used the bottled kind)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), minced
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh rosemary (seriously, don’t even try this with dried rosemary)
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • course kosher salt to taste

Instructions

First, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a food processor or whisk together in a bowl. We tasted it and it had a nice lemony flavor so we added a few leaves of some lemon basil (we just harvested some and need to use it). The mixture came out to resemble a rosemary-lemon pesto. We coated both sides of the chicken with the “pesto” and let it marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour and a half.

Rosemary Pesto

This is what the rosemary mixture looks like once it is ready.

After it has marinated for 1 to 2 hours, put the chicken on a medium grill, skin side down. Now, my grill runs very hot and it’s hard to get a temp lower than medium-high when it’s over the fire, so I put the chicken in the middle of the grill a five burner grill) and turned off the center three burners. I turned the outer left and right burners on high. The chicken took awhile too cook but it was worth it. In this indirect heat, it was about 30 minutes on the skin side down and 30 minutes on the breast side down. Periodically while it was cooking I would turn on the burners under the chicken to help it along and give it some char. For the last 30 minutes, I put in a thermometer and took out the chicken when it hit 160 degrees. Since it continues to cook after it is taken off the grill, I knew it would continue to cook for the 10 minute that we gave it to rest while covered.

Grilled Chicken with Rosemary Pesto

A look at the finished chicken. Yes, I tore the skin while moving it but now you can see how juicy the meat turned out!

Banana Ice Cream

Tonight we made homemade ice cream. I love our little electric ice cream maker. We’re trying different things and like to keep it healthy (or at least healthier) than store bought. This one has banana, coconut milk and nuts. To keep the calories down, we substituted Ideal for regular sugar and we substituted coconut milk for the half & half (or even worse, whole cream).

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe small bananas, frozen
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (we used Ideal to keep the calories lower)
  • 1 cup of half & half (we used coconut milk to keep the calories down)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts to top the ice cream

Instructions

Before you begin, peel the bananas and freeze them. Then you need to let them warm up for 30 minutes before you actually start making the ice cream. Once they have softened, mash them to a creamy consistency.

Ice Cream Maker

Here is the ice cream being made.

Now that your bananas are ready, we can get to the fun stuff. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and then add to your ice cream maker. We have a Cuisinart 1.5 quart electric ice cream maker and followed the instructions that came with it. Our instructions gave us a time of 25 minutes and said to add the nuts after 15 minutes. Each ice cream maker is different so you’ll need to check yours before you get started.

Chopped Walnuts

Chopped Walnuts

When it was finished and scooped up, we added a sprinkle of chopped walnuts to the top of our servings.

Banana Ice Cream

Here’s the banan ice cream with some walnuts on top

Red, White & Blue Cobbler

I just posted the peach cobbler recipe that is very popular in Central Texas over the summer. This is the recipe for the Strawberry-Blueberry Cobbler, which turns out red, white & blue. The main difference from peach cobbler is that there is no brown sugar or pecans on top.

Curt and Janet inspecting the cobbler just as it came out of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour (the flour & baking powder can be exchanged for Bisquick)
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of sliced strawberries

Instructions

Melt butter until brown. Pour in an 8-by-12 inch baking dish. Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Pour into melted butter. Do not stir. Cover top of batter with your fruit. Do not mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Passed Down Fredricksburg Cobbler

This recipe is a starting point for making cobblers. You can put just about any fruit in it so go experiment! A version of this recipe was in the Austin American-Statesman back in 2003 that we clipped and used. Over the years this clipping was lost. Now you can find it and similar variations online from many sources. Just remember, cobblers should be easy and fun to make. Any recipe that appears complicated is probably not worth it. We like to make cobblers throughout the year, but especially during the summer when the peaches are ripe. There’s nothing like a great peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. We also make this recipe with many other fruits. One of my favorites is the Red, White & Blue Cobbler. This cobbler has strawberries and blueberries and once it bakes, the cobbler makes looks very patriotic.
Also, Curt will sometimes substitute Bisquick for the flour and baking powder.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour (the flour & baking powder can be exchanged for Bisquick)
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • at least 3 cups of peaches
  • 1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar for topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Instructions

Melt butter until brown. Pour in an 8-by-12 inch baking dish. Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and milk. Pour into melted butter. Do not stir. Cover top of batter with peaches. Do not mix. Cover top of peaches with brown sugar and chopped pecans (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.