Friday, January 27, 2012

Talking Comfort Foods on New Talk Radio

What makes a winter comfort food? Unfussy, familiar, frugal, warm your tummy, preferably one pot and, if I plan it right, leftovers for another meal. And add to that -- local ingredients for some "close to home" comfort. 
In Saskatchewan that includes...
A hardy pot of soup.
Warm German potato salad or...

Chili -- Start with two or three different meats. I like to use venison, if I have some in the freezer. Add to that some pork or lamb. For extra flavour, some tasty cooked sausages such as Italian or koubassa. How much? Perhaps a pound of each, give or take.

Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. In a heavy pot, saute the meat in hot fat (butter, oil, bacon drippings or drippings from a roast). Salt and pepper the meat. If using venison, a couple of crushed juniper berries will taste nice. Cook the meat quickly until browned all over. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and continue until all of it is browned, including the cooked sausages.

Into the hot fat -- one big onion, a clove or two of garlic, perhaps a bell pepper and/or two sticks of celery -- all of it nicely chopped. When it's softened you can add a good sprinkle of crushed dried herbs -- sage, oregano, thyme, etc. Add the chili (fresh or powdered) now.

I like to add a good handful of dried Saskatchewan chanterelle or porcini mushrooms that have been softened in very hot tap water. Save the water.

Put the meat back into the pot with the onion mixture. Add 10-12 tomatoes -- I like to use my frozen garden tomatoes but canned tomatoes will do fine. Add two cans of beans and their water. Any beans will do such as black, navy, kidney, romano, chickpea or a mixed blend. Add the mushroom water. Top up with more water so that the meat is just barely covered. Simmer covered for a few hours. Taste and add more salt, pepper and chili as needed. Add more water as it cooks off.

When the meat is no longer chewy, but melts in your mouth, the chili is ready to eat. Chili is always better the next day (and the next day after that) so I try to make it the day before I intend to eat it. You'll notice that the leftovers get better and better each time you warm it up!  Now that's comforting...

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Your chili sounds wonderful. But I never use hot tap water. The thought of it sitting in the hot water tank just does not appeal to me. I always use cold and heat it.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Interesting comment, Sarah. I have hot water "on demand" so, in other words, no hot water tank. But even so, are hot water tanks known to be unclean? I hadn't heard that concern before but I will look into it. Thanks,
Amy

Sarah said...

Have you ever seen what is sitting on the bottom of the tank? I had to replace mine on Dec 23! When we drained it, it was gross. I think you are supposed to take a pail full out every once in a while to keep it cleaner.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Ugg!