Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Not So Agonizing Agony of Defeat

I am a GREAT BIG football fan. I’ve cheered for the Miami Dolphins since 1970. There have been some highs (Dan Marino’s amazing records) and some lows (did you watch the end of the Houston game this season…?). But, the constant in all of the football watching has been the food. Football food is fabulous. From first quarter appys to half time hoagies, to the final play where chocolate is the total fan equalizer; good food outweighs a bad loss.

This season I prepared a twist on an old recipe from my At Home Entertaining book, titled Fiery Beef and Black Bean Chili (page 181). I updated the recipe first, by using a slow cooker. In the past, I shied away from crock pots because the food that came out of them was usually bland and mushy. But, the newer machines give you the latitude of several settings, so that you can actually achieve a rolling boil or allow a finished dish to stay warm for hours. My favorite machine is the All-Clad 99009 Stainless-Steel 6-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker I like the removable ceramic insert because it is a breeze to clean. There is another version of this machine that has a cast aluminum insert that can be removed to the stove top in order to sear meats before cooking. This one is substantially more expensive. For the money, I don’t mind searing in a pan and then dumping everything into the slow cooker. It’s not that big of a deal.

The other updates I made to the recipe included a change in ingredients. The original recipe called for “boneless beef chuck”. I upgraded to use the hormone and steroid free beef roast that I found in the local farmer’s market. I had to increase the amount of beef in the recipe, as this natural version tends to be leaner. This roast also cooks up quicker, so my browning process went faster. I actually browned the beef the night before, placed it into a resealable plastic bag (when it cooled), and stored it in the fridge until Sunday morning. Then I placed the meat into the crock pot and followed it with the other ingredients.

Another change to the recipe was the substitution of frozen corn for canned corn. I have learned that canned veggies may contain more sodium than frozen, and being the cooking control freak that I am, I want to be the one to add the salt that the dish needs. Finally, the original recipe calls for a cup of sour cream and a garnish of brown rice. I changed that to a garnish of sour cream and eliminated the brown rice. I topped each bowl with fresh chunks of avocado and ripe, purple tomatoes. I served it with a simple quick bread filled with bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.

So, as we Dolphin fans prepared to celebrate a victory with a 5 point lead and only 2 seconds left on the clock, we watched the Houston quarterback throw a bullet pass into the end zone; for a TOUCHDOWN!!! I decided to serve my updated Fiery Beef and Black Bean Chili with warm slices of Bacon, Cheddar and Sage Quick Bread. Luckily, when it comes to disappointing losses, being a damned good cook has its benefits.

Go Dolphins….. There’s always another game… perhaps next time I’ll prepare Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boys……..

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