I sleep, breath and obsess about food. My husband and I have owned and operated The Courtyard Deli, a small deli downtown, for over 20 years. You would think that writing a small article about food, cooking or running a restaurant would be a piece of cake. (pun intended). I can talk for intolerable hours to anyone willing to listen about the splendid qualities of the chive blossom. I can drone on and on about cream soup making and essential stock ingredients. But put my ramblings and zealous prattle down on paper in an interesting and informative fashion seems to be a whole other kettle of fish. (yes, another one!). But I am going to give this column my best shot at relating facts, stories, recipes and folklore about anything culinary.
It’s fall and that means football, and football means feasting in the stadium parking lot “teaming” with grills, kegs, tents and crock pots. My first column will be about Chili, a tailgating staple.
Surprisingly, Chili is as American as football. Originating in the Southwest, it started out as a peasant dish using common staples such as readily available peppers, onions and cheap inferior cuts of meat. But not anymore! Expensive meats, unusual spices, chocolates and exotic beers are often ingredients found at many chili cook-offs and on many menus. There are as many kinds of chili as there are football teams. Purists say there should be no beans. Cincinnatians favor cinnamon, pasta, and cheese. Some use beef and pork, some use chicken. The same goes for beans. Kidney Beans are the traditional bean of choice. Black Beans make a wonderful vegetarian chili, especially when paired with butternut squash puree. I like Red Beans. They are a bit smaller than the large kidney bean. Mix and match the beans as you like! Chili must have peppers. Period. Whether you are of timid pepper palate or are a flame thrower, you must include some kind of pepper and onion. Bell Peppers are for the timid. Jalapeno to the Habernero are for the blazers. The Ancho Chili adds a nice depth of flavor without setting you afire. Our markets today carry every kind of chili powder mix imaginable. The basic spices should include dark chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic. Even when I use fresh garlic in my pepper mix, I always add just a little powder to set it apart. Crushed tomatoes or pureed tomatillos are the most favored bases for red and green chilis, respectively. This information is really just a beginner course in chili“ology”. Get crazy! Use exotic ingredients. The net has hundreds of chili recipes for you to discover.
P.S. Make it a day ahead…. It’s always better the next day when you can enjoy your chili and a beer at the game.
I hope you have enjoyed my first foray into writing about all things food. Feel free to suggest topics or ask questions via my email at email@example.com. I look forward to this being a delicious adventure together.