Simply Awesome Beef Chili

Cook’s Illustrated does it again.


  • 8 ounces bacon (about 8 strips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans favorite beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
  • Table salt


  1. Fry bacon in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat, leaving bacon in pot.
  2. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  5. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened.

Slow Cooker Option: At the end of step 3, transfer the cooked beef mixture to a slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 4. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.

Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired. Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne–or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients: Serves 6
* 1 cup dried black beans
* 4 cups water
* 6 diced slices of bacon
* 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
* 1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
* 2 baby carrots, grated
* 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 3/4 cup long-grain white rice
* 2 cups chicken broth or water
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 bay leaf
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

# Rinse the beans and add them to a covered container. Pour in the water, cover, and let the beans soak overnight. Drain.
# Fry the bacon until it begins to render its fat in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
# Add the green bell pepper, celery, and carrots; sauté for 2 minutes.
# Add the onion; sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
# Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
# Stir in the rice and stir-fry until the rice begins to brown.
# Add the drained beans, 2 cups of broth or water, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaf.
# Lock the lid into place and bring to low pressure; maintain pressure for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow pressure to release naturally. Stir, taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Salmon Pasta

* 4 oz smoked salmon
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup chopped onions
* 2 cloves chopped garlic
* 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned)
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1 tablespoon pesto
* 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
* 3/4 pound linguine

# Heat oil and lightly brown onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
# Add tomatoes, wine and pesto and cook for 10 minutes.
# Add parsley
# Cut salmon into one inch pieces and add to tomato mixture, stop cooking.
# Gently add to cooked pasta and salt appropriately.

Baked Zucchini and Sausage Risotto

Baked risotto is super easy to makeAnother recipe from the Australian cookbook that gave me Spicy Beef. Although not called for, garlic is always a nice addition to this dish. The first time Sara and I had this for dinner, I then had leftovers for lunch the next day. I gave what little was left to Jack for dinner…I should have left a lot more because he loved it. Next time I’m doubling the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 3 chopped cloves of garlic, more if you’re italian
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1 cup arborio rice
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
* 14 oz can chopped plum tomatoes
* 2 or 3 chopped cooked sausages
* 2 zucchini, finely sliced
* 3 oz grated parmesan
* freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

# Heat a medium capacity ovenproof dish (with a lid) over a medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and sea salt and stir for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
# Add the rice to the dish and stir for another minutes.
# Add the stock and the chopped tomatoes and bring to simmering point.
# Stir in the zucchini and sausage, and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper.
# Cover the dish and bake the risotto for 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
# Top risotto with parsley and Parmesan.

Serves 4.

Spicy Beef with Coriander Relish

* 1/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine
* 1/4 cup oyster sauce
* 1/4 cup light soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
* 1 tablespoon sesame oil
* 4 x 8 oz steaks

To Serve:
* 7 oz snow peas
* steamed rice
* coriander relish

# Place the Shaoxing rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
# Add the steaks and the above marinade in a large plastic bag in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally. Bring the steaks to room temperature in the last 30 minutes.
# Prepare the coriander relish while the steaks are marinating.
# Preheat a frying pan or barbecue until hot. Sear the steaks for 3 minutes each side. Continue cooking over a medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side for medium. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place.
# Lightly blanch the snow peas in boiling water then plunge into cold water and drain well.
# Slice each steak into 1/2 inch slices, top with a little relish and serve with steamed rice and snow peas.
# Bring the extra marinade to a boil and serve on the side.

Better Chicken Fajitas

Some like it hot, I don't like the othersFrom the September – October 2005 issue of Cook’s Illustrated come some amazing fajitas. The key here is the 15 minute marinade, and reserving a little to toss on the vegetables and chicken after you grill them.

Better Chicken Fajitas – Cook’s Illustrated


* 1/3 cup juice from 2 to 3 limes
* 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
* 1 jalepeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
* 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
* salt and ground black pepper
* 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thick
* 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, don’t separate rings
* 1 large red bell pepper, quartered, stemmed, and seeded
* 1 large green bell pepper, quartered, stemmed, and seeded
* flour tortillas

Continue reading “Better Chicken Fajitas”

Truffle Risotto

Thanks to Emeril, pass the sea salt.First made this very easy and very awesome risotto with Team Galit. It was well paired with Parmesan Croutons. Has since become our standby ‘gourmet’ meal for VIPs.

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup chopped onions
* Salt
* Freshly ground white pepper
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 6 cups chicken stock
* 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
* 1 pound (2 cups) Arborio rice
* 1/3 pound assorted exotic mushrooms, such shiitakes, chanterelles, or oysters, de-stemmed, wiped clean and chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
* 3 tablespoons chopped green onions, green part only
* 2 tablespoons white truffle oil
* Medium black truffle, for shaving (can be skipped to save $50)

# In a large saute pan, over medium heat, heat the oil.
# Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring. Saute until the onions are slightly soft, about 3 minutes.
# Add the stock and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 6 minutes.
# Add the rice and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
# Add the mushrooms and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture is creamy and bubbly, about 8 minutes.
# Stir in the butter, cream, cheese, green onions, and truffle oil. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
# Spoon the risotto in the center of each shallow bowl.

Garnish with the croutons and shaved truffles.

Chicken Fajitas

Taco Flavored KissesIngredients:
* 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3 tablespoons lime juice
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
* 1/2 jalapeno, seeded
* Salt and pepper

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
* 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

# Flatten chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap with a mallet or rolling pin. Even better is to buy the less expensive thinly sliced chicken breasts. Place chicken breasts in glass baking dish.
# In a blender combine 2 tbsp olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and pour over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and let chicken marinate for 30 minutes.
# In a large skillet over medium heat oil. Add onions and peppers and cook until they are tender and begin to brown. Transfer to serving dish and put it in the oven to keep warm.
# Toast flour tortillas for about 30 seconds per side and keep warm in an aluminum foil pocket.
# Grill the chicken on each side for a few minutes.
# To serve slice chicken into even strips. Serve hot with onions and peppers, grated jack and cheddar cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

Good Eats Meat Loaf

Use the 'moo' part of the cowAlton Brown is the man. Here’s his meatloaf recipe for Good Eats.

* 6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
* 1 carrot, peeled and broken
* 3 whole cloves garlic
* 1/2 red bell pepper
* 18 ounces ground chuck
* 18 ounces ground sirloin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 egg

For the glaze:
* 1/2 cup catsup
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* Dash Worcestershire sauce
* Dash hot pepper sauce
* 1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Meat loaf is good eats.In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Killer Quesadillas

Remember the runaway meatball, like that but flat and flour.Cook’s Illustrated – March & April 2005

I little more work then putting them in the microwave, infintely better taste.

* 2 flour tortillas
* 2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack and/or cheddar cheese
* Vegetable oil from brushing tortillas
* Kosher salt

# Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Place tortilla in skillet and toast until soft and puffed slightly at edges, about 2 minutes. Flip tortilla and toast until puffed and slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Slip tortilla onto cutting board. Repeast to toast second tortilla while assembling first quesadilla. Sprinkle half the cheese over half of tortilla, leaving 1/2 inch border around edge. Fold tortilla in half and press to flatted. Brush top generously with oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside. Repeat to form second quesadilla.
# Place both quesadillas in skillet, oiled sides down; cook over medium heat until crisp and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Brush tops with oil and sprinkly lightly with salt. Flip quesadillas and cook until second sides are crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer quesadillas to cutting board; cool about 3 minutes, cut and serve.

Cooling the quesadillas before cutting and serving is important; straight from the skillet, the cheese is molten and will ooze out. finished quesadilla can be held on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven for up to 20 minutes.