Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne

No beans, no tomatoes – it’s all about meat and heat. This is a modern version of the chili dish that the Aztecs introduced to the Spaniards and that the Mexican vaqueros brought north with them. A warm and hearty dish like this to ward off the sub-zero weather is just what a lot of us need right now.

3 to 4 pound beef chuck roast
10 dried chile peppers (I only used Guajillo, but a mix of New Mexico, Ancho, and pequin would be good too)
1 (7-ounce) can Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 quart beef stock
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano (Mexican, if you can)
Sea or Kosher salt and black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.

Wearing gloves, stem and seed the dried chiles. Cover with hot (but not boiling) water, and let steep until they are softened – about 30 minutes.

While the chiles are soaking, coat the roast with a little peanut oil on all sides and then dust with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a large dutch oven until smoking. Sear the roast on all sides until browned (about 4 minutes a side). Remove roast to a plate.

Drain the chiles, discard the soaking water. Put the chiles, can of Chipotles, garlic, cumin, oregano, and about half the stock in a food processor and give them a whirl until they form a smooth sauce.

Put the onions in a layer in the bottom of the dutch oven. Top with the roast and any accumulated juices. Pour chili sauce over it all and add enough of the remaining beef stock to bring the liquid in the pan about a quarter of the way up the roast.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put the lid on and move to the whole works to the oven for an hour.

Chili Con Carne

Braise the roast for an hour, then flip it over and add more stock if needed. Continue cooking until very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total. Remove the roast from the pan and set aside to shred the meat (I used a 9×13 cake pan to keep everything contained).

Chili Con Carne

Shred the meat and remove any nasty bits. I used a pair of bear paws to break it into bite-sized chunks. Return the meat and any juices that have accumulated back to the Dutch oven.

Move the Dutch oven to the stove top and bring chili to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Let cook uncovered until the chili is thick and the meat has completely fallen apart.

Serve this with cornbread and garnish with cilantro, diced white onion, sliced radishes, sour cream, chopped green onions, grated cheese, avocado, tortilla chips – you name it.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This was a very rich and filling dish. Very meat-centric, but the Guajillo and Chipotles kept it interesting with a nice complex, smoky, and lasting heat. I can sure see any leftovers being used as a filling for tacos or tamales.

Oil Drum Wings

Oil Drum Wings

As always, the impending Super Bowl gives me yet another reason to whip up some wings. This is a hotter version of my Oil Drum Chicken Thighs. Normally I would do these on the Big Green Egg, but the Polar Vortex forced me to hunker down and use the oven.

2 pounds chicken wings
1/2 cup hot sauce (homemade in this case)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Put the salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the hot sauce, vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, onion, pepper, celery salt, basil, and parsley and give them a whirl until they are well-combined. Reserve half for basting the chicken.

Put the chicken in a zip-top bag and coat with the other half of the marinade. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, overnight is better, and 48 hours rocks.

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F. Set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan.

Remove the wings from the marinade and arrange on the rack. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip and baste with the reserved marinade. Bake for another 20 minutes, then flip and baste again. Repeat every 10 minutes until the wings are crispy on the outside and at least 180°F on the inside (about 80 minutes total).

The Verdict: ★★★½☆
My dear wife really liked these wings, but I have some reservations. I liked the complex flavors that made them much more than your usual hot wing, but the balance was off. They needed more heat, less Worcestershire, and maybe some more salt and garlic. That said, I think they have great potential and am looking forward to playing around with the flavors.

P.S. Look for my lacto-fermented hot sauce recipe soon.

Gluten Free Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Chex Mix

The holidays are over, but this classic party snack is perfect for any get-together. I’ve re-vamped it a bit to make it gluten-free using The Pioneer Woman’s recipe as a tasty starting point.

4 1/2 cups gluten-free Corn Chex
4 1/2 cups gluten-free Rice Chex
2 cups gluten-free pretzel sticks (Snyder’s Of Hanover or Glutino are both good)
3 cups mixed nuts (splurge for the extra-fancy ones, you’re worth it)
1 1/2 sticks butter
3 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is easy to find)
6 to 12 dashes Louisiana-style hot sauce
4 to 6 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Ground sea or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Pour cereal, pretzels, and nuts into a into a large mixing bowl or cake pan.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, season salt, and onion powder and microwave until butter is melted. Stir together and taste. Add hot sauce and adjust seasonings as you see fit (I added a bit more seasoned salt and onion powder and went pretty heavy on the hot sauce).

Gluten Free Chex Mix

Slowly pour butter sauce over cereal mixture, tossing and stirring as you go.

Transfer mix onto one or two baking sheets (I left ours in the large cake pan that I mixed it in) and bake, checking and stirring every 15 minutes until mix is toasted and fragrant, about 1 hour.

Gluten Free Chex Mix

Remove from oven. Taste, and if you want to, grind just a bit of sea salt over it. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Chex mix one of my favorite snacks and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. This recipe knocks it out of the park compared to the commercial versions. The fresh garlic makes a huge difference, as does the hot sauce. I can see making up a big batch of this for the Super Bowl.

Grilled and Roasted Prime Rib

Prime Rib

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve this year. For the first time in over 10 years we didn’t host a party, so it was just my dear wife and me, four spoiled cats, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and this lovely hunk of prime rib.

1 3-pound boneless prime rib roast
2-3 tablespoons Montreal-style steak seasoning

1 tablespoon prepared grated horseradish
1 tablespoon Penzy’s horseradish dip
2 tablespoons hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the roast on a cutting board with the deckle (fat cap) on top. Score the fat by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Generously dust the roast on all sides with the steak seasoning, making sure to work it into the cuts. Stash in the fridge while you set up the grill.

You’ll need a flame-proof roasting pan (I use an old 9×13 baking pan) with a rack.

For the sear, set your grill up for a direct cook over high heat (700°F). Get the cooking grate nice and hot and sear the roast directly on the grate for 90 seconds on each side. When the roast is browned all over, move it to the rack (fat side up) set in the roasting pan.

Prime Rib

Move the roast to the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes. The idea is to stop the cooking process so that the outside gets nice and crispy while the inside stays a uniform medium-rare.

Normally, I would finish this on the Big Green Egg, but a record cold front moved in and discretion got the better part of me.

Preheat the oven for 300°F. Add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan and place roast in oven. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or until it hits 125°F internal.

Move the roast to a cutting board and let rest while you make the horseradish sauce.

Combine hot water and dip seasoning and let sit for 5 minutes. Add grated horseradish, sour cream, and mayo and mix to combine. Let sit for another 5 minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings.

Carve roast and serve with horseradish sauce on the side.

Prime Rib

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This is becoming my favorite way to do prime rib. The searing gives the roast a nice browned and tasty crust while finishing it at a lower temperature after a rest makes sure you have minimum amount of overcooked meat and a maximum amount of yummy medium-rare.

The horseradish sauce was exactly what I been trying to make. I like the creaminess of horseradish dip, but it never has enough bite for me. Combining the two worked perfectly.

Hope you all had a happy New Year!

Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew

It wouldn’t be the holidays without oyster stew. When I was a kid this was always a thin soup that had more oyster crackers in it than actual oysters. These days I like to make it as thick and creamy as possible.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 pint oysters and liquor
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 stalks celery,  finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-ish heat. Add the celery and onion and sweat the veggies until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook the mixture, stirring often, until the roux just starts to darken, about 5 minutes.

Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring constantly. Add the celery salt, Chesapeake Bay seasoning, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Bring the soup almost to a simmer. Almost being the key word, as bringing the soup to a boil will cause the cream to separate. Cook over very low heat for 15 minutes until the soup is thick and creamy and the veggies are very soft.

Add the oysters and their liquor and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the edges of the oysters start to curl.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with more hot sauce on the side and some crusty bread for dipping.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This turned out downright decadent.  The roux is so simple, but makes a lot of difference in how creamy and rich the stew is.

Beef and Noodles

Beef and Noodles

This classic braised beef dish, featuring hearty gluten-free tagliatelle pasta from the fine folks at Jovial Foods, is the perfect cure for the arctic temperatures we’ve been having lately.

1 3-5 pound chuck roast
1-2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup red wine
1-2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
16 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups peas
1 1/2 cups pearl onions
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons corn-starch
1 box (9-ounces) Jovial Gluten-Free Brown Rice Tagliatelle
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Pat roast dry and sprinkle with a good coating of steak seasoning.

On the stove top, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it starts to ripple. Sear the roast for 3 to 4 minutes per side (mine was fairly flat, so it only had two sides) until it has a nice brown crust on it.

Remove the meat to a plate. Reduce the heat and add the onions. Cook until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms start to give off their moisture, about another 5 minutes.

Increase the heat a little and deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping the bottom to get up all the tasty browned bits.

Turn off the heat and return the roast and any accumulated juices back to the dutch oven. Add the Worcestershire sauce and enough beef stock to cover the mushrooms and come about a quarter of the way up the site of the roast.

Put the lid on and move to the whole works to the oven.

Beef and Noodles

Braise the roast for an hour, then flip it over and add more stock if needed. Continue cooking until very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total. Remove the roast from the pan and set aside to shred the meat (I used a 9×13 cake pan to keep everything contained).

Move the Dutch oven to the stove top and bring the mushrooms and stock to a boil. Add the peas and onions, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the onions are tender – about 5 minutes.

Beef and Noodles

Shred the meat and remove any nasty bits. I used a pair of bear paws to break it into bite-sized chunks. Return the meat and any juices that have accumulated back to the Dutch oven.

Stir in the meat and the cream. Taste and adjust seasoning. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl and slowly add the milk, stirring constantly until you get a smooth slurry. Stir this into the stew and cook until it starts to thicken – about 5 minutes.

Let the stew simmer while you cook the pasta according to the directions on the box until it is al dente (about 2 minutes less than the recommended time). Drain and toss with the butter. Serve the stew over the noodles.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This is one rich and tasty stew. Browning and braising the meat in the same pot and building the stew up from the braising liquid gives this dish a complex, beefy flavor.

Again, the Jovial noodles held up much better than another gluten-free noodles I’ve tried. They didn’t even fall apart when I reheated the leftovers. I’m impressed.