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Pictures & Words

It’s Getting Chili Around Here

I’ve never been a big chili fan. My folks never made it, and the chili’s I’ve tried have been one-dimensional and not particularly pleasing to my tastebuds. The heat doesn’t bother me, but the flavors did. On top of that, I’m not a fan of the beans either—and most of the chills I’ve been offered have been full of them.

So, this year we had a chili cook off at St. John the Baptist (it’s an annual event). We were short entrants, and I was thinking of how much I love my wife’s moles and her chocolate chicken, and I wondered if a chocolate chili actually existed. The internet is an amazing place, and after a few minutes googling I came up with a couple recipes to try. One included lamb meat—which I thought would be yum—but based on the face my wife made, I came to the conclusion that it might be a tad bit too adventurous for our family. The other recipe looked delicious, but time constraints got in the way and I never made the entry for the cook off (heck, I didn’t even have time to attend).

Yesterday was my last day of vacation for 2013 (well, close enough), and I thought it’d be a good day to do some shopping and make something different for dinner. My thoughts turned to the chili, so I went off and got the ingredients for Ed’s Chicago Cocoa Chili. There’s a lot of stuff going on with ingredients, and I was wondering if Ed was a kitchen sink kind of guy—but I faithfully grabbed everything on the list that I didn’t have (or in case of some of the spices, were older than 10 years…). As it turned out, the chili was actually pretty easy to make—more prep work than actual cooking time. I started with ground turkey, and I browned that it in a cast iron skillet with a strip of Neuske’s peppercorn bacon. My god, that bacon is the best in the world! From there, it was following the actual recipe, and within an hour it was actually finished. I worked all the browning of meats and sautéing of veggies in the cast iron pan, but transferred it to my stainless wok to finish the dish (there’s a lot of acid in there with the tomatoes and citrus juices).

I decided to serve it with homemade corn bread. Again, I found a tasty recipe online (thanks Alex), and cooked that in the cast iron (preheated) skillet similar to how I do my biscuits.

The dinner turned out phenomenally. The chili is to die for, and I’ve never had anything as wonderfully complex and delicious for a tex-mex dish. It’s not quite a mole, but it’s got a healthy dose of the chocolate. Surprisingly, the kids ate it up too—Noah, who ‘hates’ most of the ingredients (onion, green pepper, jalapeño peppers) had a big bowl and thought it was great. Definitely a success, and I’ve got an entry for next year’s cook off...

And a Happy 2014!

My New Year’s resolution for 2014 was to write a blog post every day for the entire year. It’s good that I missed the first two days, so I can go back to sitting under a blanket drinking hot buttered rums…

It’s been a really cold winter so far this season. We had snow drop on us in November before I had gotten all the leaves off the grass (see you in the spring, guys!)—and it really hasn’t let up. We’ve had winters in the past few years that were mild by Wisconsin standards. This year, not so much. We’ve had several nights in November and December where the temperature has dropped below 0°F, and this week has been both cold and snowy. We picked up about a foot of snow over the last few days—incredibly dry, light, fluffy snow—and the place looks like a winter wonderland (or Fargo, for the less romantic). This morning I confirmed a scientific observation; cold air sinks. Leaving the garage this morning, my car said -1°F. It was a beautifully clear night and a very still morning as I started to take Noah to school. By the time I was on top of the driveway, the car said -11°F. A quarter mile west at the lowest point of the commute (the little valley with the creek), the temperature was -17°F. As we drove to Central, the temperature actually went up (to -7°F)—I think this was due to the fact that there’s more activity and air mixing going on, as well as it being on a hill. The drive back home confirmed the -17°F at the creek, and it was a balmy -15°F at our house.

I’m so looking forward to next week, where an even colder air mass is supposed to move in. With wind! At least I won’t be staring at the temperature gauge; it’ll be -20 everywhere. For those of you reading this from warm climates, I’m jealous!

Copyright 2014, Jim Kofron. All rights reserved.