Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the Moment Chili

My friend Jane, as is her custom, demanded that I blog the recipe that I mentioned in my Facebook post this evening. She is a tireless advocate for transparency in cooking, and has on several occasions forced me, despite my reticence, to give up the secrets that have made my cooking so remarkable. So, while I sit on the couch waiting for the above chili to simmer, I will do my best to share with all of you, the legions of devoted readers, how to make my version of "In The Moment Chili."

The cornbread I make is probably like any other one you might make yourself. 2 cups cornmeal (local and stone ground if you can get it....if you use horse-powered you win,) followed by 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, more salt than you think, some pepper, followed by 2 eggs, about 1.75 cups of buttermilk, and a glug of maple syrup. Mix this all together, but don't over mix it, and then let it sit for 10-12 minutes while you do this below.

Here's the important part: You need a cast iron skillet that's about 100 years old, and that belonged to your great grandmother who lived in Atlanta your whole life in a house that you loved. If you don't have this, another cast iron skillet will do, but you know I can't promise anything. Put 3-4 tablespoons of butter, and big swirl of canola oil in the skillet, and then put it in an oven that you preheated to 400 degrees. Let the skillet get very hot in the oven, melting the butter and heating the oil. When you pour the batter in, it should sizzle. Then leave it in the oven about 20-22 minutes. When it take it out, turn the cornbread upside down on a plate, and let it cool. If you want to, you can drizzle over some melted butter, or, if you have it, some hot pepper maple syrup, like I did.

It's called In the Moment Chili because that's really what it is--it's whatever you have plus whatever you feel like. Taste it every time you add something, and see what your mood asks for--more heat, more acid, more salt. So, tonight, my version went like this:
  • 3 small onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 chopped chipotle chiles
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 big can black beans
  • 1 big can small red beans
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • lots of salt
  • juice of two limes
  • big shake of ground coriander, some oregano, some curry powder, 2 shakes of cayenne.
  • a bit of garlic powder
  • Secret ingredients: 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, plus one mug of coffee.
So, you do all of this like you think you would--onions & garlic in some olive oil, plus pork, and then so on down the list, and then you let it simmer until it's super thick and delicious. I like to be able to stand a spoon up in the middle of the pot. Like this:

How you serve it is really up to you--I like a big chunk of cornbread in the bottom of a bowl, then pour two scoops of chili on top, then put some shredded cheddar. Be generous with everything--it's a bowl of chili, and it's Sunday night, right?

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