Monday, August 20, 2007

Eat For a Week, Episode 3: Space Chili

I apologize for the delay getting this one up. Things got a little crazy. In fact, I'm actually cooking recipe #4 while finishing up this entry.

Thanks to Mik over at Space Adventure for the inspiration for this recipe! He asked if I'd be posting a chili recipe soon. Oddly enough, I've never actually managed to come up with a chili recipe, since in the past if I wanted chili, I'd just buy a can of the preservative-packed pre-made stuff. I figured that it's about time I had my own recipe. I made this up as I went. That's right, you'll be watching the creation of a recipe here! I know I took a couple of turns that probably aren't terribly traditional, but they seemed like good ideas to me at the time. How will it turn out? Only time will tell!

For this recipe I had to buy ground beef, bacon, onions, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, and canned beans. My grocery bill was just shy of $20. If you include stuff that I bought to top the chili (cheese, sour cream and avocados) then the bill was more like $26.


4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1" pieces
2 lbs ground beef *
2 large onions, chopped **
7 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 15oz cans red kidney beans - drained (reserve liquid) ***
1 15oz can black beans - drained (reserve liquid) ***
1 15oz can pinto beans - drained (reserve liquid) ***
1 15oz can chick peas - drained (reserve liquid) ***
4 dashes allspice
3 dashes onion salt
3 dashes garlic salt
3 dashes celery salt
3 Tbsp cumin
4 Tbsp ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp ground yellow mustard
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 or 2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 C vinegar
3 Tbsp tomato paste


1 huge pot


Heat olive oil in pot over medium-high heat.
Add bacon, cook until crispy.
Remove bacon to a paper towel.
If necessary, remove excess fat from the pot until about 2 Tbsp remain.
Add onions and garlic, salt and pepper to taste (be careful of the salt - the bacon fat can be pretty salty), cook until translucent, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pot.
Add beef - season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned.
Taste for seasoning - adjust if necessary.
Add allspice, onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt, cumin, cayenne, mustard and parsley.
Allow to cook for a few minutes while stirring.
Add carrots, bell peppers and tomato paste, stir to incorporate.
Add bacon back to the pot.
Add vinegar.
Add water to cover.
Add bay leaves
Add beans, and some of the reserved bean liquid if necessary to adjust level to cover ingredients.
Allow to come up to a rapid boil then reduce heat to low.
Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender.
Be sure to remove the bay leaves before eating.

Serve yourself up a big ol' bowl of this hearty chili. Top it with whatever you like. I tend to prefer things like grated cheese, sour cream, and avocado/guacamole. Other options would be diced onion, cilantro, diced peppers and, well, pretty much whatever you think would be tasty.

Want something crunchy with your chili? Try spooning it over a pile of Fritos or other corn chip of your choice. Chili *should* also freeze pretty well. I'll be sure to update here if it doesn't.


Since I was making this recipe up as I filmed this, I went ahead and provided the recipe here as performed, rather than as I intend to do it next time. I so rarely use cayenne pepper that I forgot it actually gets hotter as it cooks. And a little hotter still as the chili sits in the fridge. That first night, the heat was just right for me, but by the end of the week it was a little much. Next time I'd reduce the amount of cayenne to about 3 Tbsp - or maybe a bit less - but I think that's the only change I'd make.

Music for this episode was "green" from The Hybiscus Journals' second record, "Chakra Pop".

* If you don't do red meat, this would probably be pretty tasty with ground turkey or chicken.
** If you enjoy raw onion, feel free to keep some aside to sprinkle atop the finished chili. I don't really do the raw onion thing, so I just put them all in at the beginning.
*** I know some of you are probably thinking, "There're no beans in chili!!!" Yeah, well... I'm on a budget, here. Beans are a great cost effective way to stretch something like this. Same goes for the carrots.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Eat For A Week, Episode 2: Chicken Pelau

First off, I'd like to thank you all for your great feedback on my first episode, whether here, via other forums, or in person. It really means a lot!

This is a recipe for Chicken Pelau that I learned from my friend Federico. The dish comes from the island of Trinidad, is packed full of flavor, and is actually pretty healthy. Granted, I've edited it a bit to suit my taste, and I encourage you to do likewise. My grocery bill for this one was just over $17.


raw chicken drumsticks (about 10)
1 bunch green onions
1 large yellow onion
1 bunch fresh parsley (about 2 Cups)
1 bunch fresh chives (about 3 Tbsp)
1 head of garlic
1 jabanero (or habanero, if you prefer) pepper *
1 lb frozen peas and carrots
3 Tbsp white vinegar **
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp chicken boullion ***
2 Tbsp black pepper
3 Tsp dry ginger
1 Cup uncooked rice
1/4 Cup butter
1/3 Cup ketchup (or catsup... whatever)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt (to taste)


A large bowl
A huge pot


Finely chop onions (yellow and green), garlic, parsley, and jabanero.
In a large bowl, combine chopped ingredients with vinegar, cajun seasoning, boullion, black pepper and ginger.
Remove skin from the drumsticks, then chop the drumsticks in half. (If you don't want to deal with chopping through bone, you can leave them whole or opt to use boneless chicken meat.)
Rinse the chicken well to remove any stray bone shards.
Add chicken to the chopped stuff, mix, and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Heat the large pot over medium-high heat.
Add about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil to the pot.
When oil is hot, add brown sugar and stir until i gets melty. (The sugar will not blend with the oil.)
If it smells like the sugar is starting to burn, remove pot from heat.
Add all the chicken and chopped stuff to the pot then return to heat.
The sugar will seize up a bit when you add the cold ingredients. That's okay, just keep stirring until it has melted again.
Once chicken looks less raw, add enough water to cover ingredients.
Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if it's boiling too rapidly.)

Add butter, catsup, and tomato paste, stir to combine.
Add uncooked rice.
Let simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep rice from burning onto the bottom of the pot.

Add about 1/2 cup of water and the frozen peas and carrots (no need to defrost, just dump 'em in frozen.) Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. This could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
Taste for seasoning - add salt if needed.


I'm afraid I haven't come up with anything too fancy for this one... Just put some in a bowl and microwave on high for a few minutes.


With a simple tweak, this actually becomes another dish. Just leave out the rice, add the peas and carrots earlier, and you've got Stew Chicken.

Music for this episode provided by The Hybiscus Journals.

* I'm a wuss when it comes to spicy stuff. If you want to use more peppers go right ahead, but I wouldn't suggest more than 3. Those puppies are HOT! And make sure you wash your hands REALLY well after handling them.
** Doesn't have to be white vinegar, it's just what Federico recommends.
*** If you're sensitive to MSG, you'll want to be sure to check the label on this stuff. Boullion frequently has MSG in it. If you're like me and this evil preservative/seasoning gives you a crippling migraine, you'll want to spend the extra money on the stuff without MSG.