Monday, December 28, 2009

Boxing Day

On those years when Madame and I are in the country over Christmas and December 26th is a weekend, we have a Boxing Day (day after Christmas, feast of Stephen) party. This year was no exception. Our typical approach is to ask the people who come to bring food items for our local Church's food pantry. Those who came (about 75 people in all) did the church proud. So a heartfelt thanks to everyone.
We made a few dishes to set the scene, nowing that in addition to the church pantry food, guests would bring all manner of wonderful things. And they did! It was a wonderful day.
We made a couple of different kinds of chili and almost 3 gallons of mulled wine - most of which got drunk. So in this posting I will do what I can to put a couple of recipes out...

First the mulled wine:
12 bottles of dryish red wine. We used a Cabernet/Merlot from Spain - the key is that it is fruity enough
1 bottle port
24 inches cinnamon stick broken into small pieces
60 cloves
2t coriander seeds
2T whole green cardomoms
4 oranges - greated zest and juice
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Place the wine, port, orange juice and zest into a large heavy pan and place on ,ow heat. Make up spice bags from most of the cinnamon, cloves and all the cardomom and coriander. Immerse the bags in the wine mixture. Put the sugar and remaining cinnamon/cloves in a small pan and heat to dissolve the sugar and make a flavored syrup. As the wine comes to temperature (not boiling, but very hot), add the syrup to taste. depending on the wine, you may find you do not need all the syrup. Steep the pices for at least an hour. Serve hot in small mugs.....

And now the chili. There is of course a lot of discussion and controversy about chili, so I can only tell you what I did, not what's right! For me the first rule is that it must neither be wimpy, nor blow your head off. I also prefer to use finely chopped meat, not ground beef. The chili has a mixture of dried and fresh peppers of various strengths and a fair amount of cumin. At least this chili did not make such a large amount as the mulled wine!

3 1/2 lbs beef chuck see method for details on preparation
2 ancho peppers ground finely
6 dried cayenne peppers
3 fresh cayenne peppers
3T cumin seed ground finely
1 medium yellow onion chopped finely
3 large carrots  grated
1 can tomato paste
2 cans crushed tomatoes - drained
2 bay leaves
1 Chipotle pepper (dried - not in adobe)
Salt/pepper as necessary.
2 Raw green jalapenos - thinly sliced
1 white onion thinly sliced
Remove the fat from the chuck and set to render over low heat in a large skillet. Letting the beef fat render adds greater depth to the dish than using oil for browning the meat. Slice the meat into 1/4 inch cubes. Do not salt the meat. Brown the meat in the hot beef fat in several batches. making sure you have plenty of browning.
While the beef is browning, grind the dry spices finely in a spice grinder (or old coffee grinder). Slice the onions, grate the carrots and slice the fresh cayennes thinly.
Once the beef is browned, pour off some of the fat. Add the dry spices to the remaining hot fat and heat until fragrant (1bout 15 seconds). Add the onions and carrots, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the fond mixed it and the spices well incorporated. Soften the carrots/onions for several minutes - do not allow to brown. Add the fresh cayenne peppers and stir.
Move the onion mixture to the side and add the can of tomato paste to the exposed pan. heat it until it browns and varamelizes a bit. This adds extra depth to the chili. Once it is suitable caramelized, mix it in with the onion mixture.
Drain the crushed tomatoes, add to the onion mixture and stir. Check for seasoning - I added about 1t salt at this stage.
Put the browned meat back in to the pan and add the chipotle and bay leaves. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6 hours. When cooked, allow to cool overnight.
Heat the oven to 275F. Place 1/2 of the chili into an ovenproof casserole. Spread with the thinly sliced onions and jalapenos. Cover the onions/jalapeno layer with the rest of the chili. Place a layer of jalapenos on top. Cover the dish and heat for 2 hours - until the interior is hot enough.
Serve with raw onion, grated cheese and sour cream.


Hampers said...

Thanks for sharing the tips on making mulled wines. It;s making my decision more positive to join wine education classes thru continuing ed of the school system.

Etienne said...

That chili was really good! Glad you posted your recipe. It certainly packed punch!