The Super Bowl, America’s biggest football celebration and the one game for all the glory, is this coming Sunday. Are you ready for the big day? There are so many foods you can make, but for me a huge pot of chili served with chunks of sweet cornbread is what I dream of. So what does chili have to do with Chocolate Monday? This one, from David Lebovitz, includes chocolate for an almost mole-style complexity that I know you will love!
Winter is the perfect time to have comfort foods – sloppy, cheesy, fatty, ultimately indulgent foods; meals that remind us of our childhood and tailgate parties of years past. And what better food is there to eat while watching a football game than a big bowl of spicy chili. Full of meat, tomatoes, and peppers, it warms every corner of your soul, no matter how cold it is outside. Throw everything together in one pot then forget about it for hours. You can have this all made ahead and relax during the game.
Chili is a classic for football parties and this year is no exception for us. I have been craving this for a while, but wanted to wait for the perfect occasion. It takes two days to make but most of that is untended cooking or soaking time. David also adds an unusual ingredient that I think is brilliant … smoked salt. It adds a beautiful complement to the other flavors, increasing its depth and intricacy. If you love the flavor of smoke, this is one special-order ingredient that you will want to buy. You can buy it online through Williams-Sonoma or Amazon.
You may be surprised to see the addition of chocolate in this recipe. I call it the secret ingredient. You will never know it is in there, but everyone will be asking, “What is that flavor? I can’t quite figure it out.” Professional chefs do this all the time – throw in an ingredient that you don’t normally expect in a savory dish, making it tantalizingly delicious.
With apologies to my Texan friends, this chili is made with beans. I don’t usually add them, but when you use heirloom beans like those sold by Rancho Gordo, they add the perfect texture and of course additional protein, making this a healthier chili.
And to go along with the chili is the best sweet cornbread you will ever have. The honey’s sweetness complements the spiciness of the chili and helps cool off your mouth. The executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurants, Sherry Yard has created a dream concoction of cornmeal, eggs, milk, sugar, and butter. Then she tops the whole thing off with a honey glaze. Your eyes will roll back in your head when you taste this cornbread! I have taken this to parties and never seem to get any to take home with me. Next time, I’m going to make two pans and only take one. That way I’ll be sure to get my own supply for leftovers!
But in case one cornbread wasn’t enough for you, or you prefer a more savory type, I am also including one of my favorites for corn pudding. Full of amazing corn flavor and crunch from the whole kernels, it is both sweet and savory at the same time with just a little hint of heat from the chiles. If you want more heat you can use jalapeno chiles. Even when fully cooked, it has a soft texture and you will need to use a spoon to scoop servings out. It has a consistency similar to spoonbread or a corn souffle. This would be wonderful served alongside or even stirred into the chili itself if you prefer. Try it both ways and let us know which you like better.
Because this travels so well, when you are looking for a side dish for a potluck, barbecue, or holiday dinner, this is a great option. I would recommend you serve it either warmed or at warm room temperature. Everyone will love it and you’ll be a hero!
On Wednesday I will be sharing snacks perfect for game day and on Friday, sweets sure to score a touchdown with your guests. Hang on to your hats, this is going to be an armchair quarterback’s dream week of posts, and one you will want to bookmark for future parties.
Happy Chocolate Monday Everyone!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
The best meat to use is stew beef or cut up chuck roast. This will give you much deeper beef flavor and I like having the chunks of meat. Many people make their chili with ground beef or hamburger, but that isn’t my favorite. Use whichever you and your family prefer.
Beef Chili with Beans and Chocolate
Yield: about 8 servings
1 lb dried red or variegated heirloom beans, such as those from Rancho Gordo
1 bay leaf
2 lb stew beef, such as boneless short ribs or chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tsp salt (smoked if available)
2 med onions, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 to 3 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp ancho chile powder (if available, otherwise add an additional tsp red chile powder)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 (15 oz) cans crushed or diced tomatoes with the juice
1 tbsp brown sugar (delete if using bittersweet chocolate)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice
One day ahead, rinse the beans and sort them to remove any debris or stones. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak overnight. Put the cubes of beef in a freezer bag with 1-1/2 tsp of salt, massage gently, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, drain the beans, place them in a very large pot (where there is plenty of room for the hot air to circulate), cover with several inches of water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a full boil for ten minutes. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until barely tender, 1 to 3 hours, (check packaging for time suggestions) adding more water if the water boils away. Once done, remove the bay leaf.
When the beans are nearly done, start the chili. In a large casserole or Dutch oven (at least 6 quarts), heat the oil. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, brown the pieces of beef, resisting the urge to turn them until they are truly dark on each side. The browning adds a great deal of flavor. When you try to lift them, if they stick to the pan, they haven’t had enough time on that side. As the meat browns, remove the pieces to a separate plate and brown the remaining pieces. If necessary, add a bit more oil to the pan as you go.
If using dried chiles, snip them into a small bowl in very small pieces with scissors and pour just enough boiling water over them to cover. If using fresh chiles, remove the stem and chop them finely. (You can either discard the seeds, which are hot, or use them.)
Once all the meat is browned, fry the onions in the oil remaining in the pot until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, as well as the remaining 1-1/2 tsp salt, chile powders, oregano, cumin, and paprika, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to release the flavors of the spices.
Add the beans to the pot along with their liquid, as well as the chiles, beer, tomatoes (and their juices), brown sugar, and chocolate.
Simmer the chili at the absolute lowest temperature possible (I use a flame-tamer) for at least 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. If the chili needs to cook much longer, you may need to add additional water if it becomes too thick. When done, stir in the vinegar or lime juice. Taste, and adjust any seasonings, such as the chile powder and the salt.
Serving: There’s plenty of ways to serve chile. Some like it served over rice, others prefer it plain. Be sure to offer bowls of sour cream, sliced green onions, grated cheese, and chopped cilantro so guests can customize their bowls. Cornbread is a great accompaniment, too.
Storage: Chili can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for at least two months. It will thicken considerably subsequent days so you may wish to thin it with water or beer when reheating it.
Honey-Glazed Spago Cornbread
From Sherry Yard’s “Desserts By the Yard”
Yield: (makes one 9-by-13-inch pan)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 oz (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 oz (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup water
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray foil with pan spray.
Sift together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt two times. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs. Whisk melted butter into eggs in a slow stream. Whisk in oil, milk, and buttermilk. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.
Scrape batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Spin pan from front to back and continue to bake for 10 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the glaze: While cornbread is baking, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add honey and water, and whisk until blended.
When cornbread is done, remove from oven and poke holes all over the bread, about 1/2 inch apart, with a toothpick. Brush with the glaze and cool.
Poblano Corn Pudding
Modified recipe from 12 Bones Smokehouse, Asheville, NC
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
6 large eggs
1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can of creamed corn
2 fresh poblano peppers, seeded and diced finely
1 shallot or 2 green onions, minced
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 11×15-inch or two smaller baking pans.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, red pepper, cumin, and coriander).
Pour the eggs, butter, cream, and creamed corn in an electric mixer. Mix well and add the poblanos, shallots or onions, and corn. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. It should resemble cake batter.
Pour the pudding mixture into the prepared pan and place it in the oven. Lightly tent the pan with foil.
Bake for 1 hour, until the center is just set. (30 to 40 minutes for smaller pans) You may want to take the foil off the last 10 to 15 minutes so the top will be golden.
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