A Big Pot of Chili

October 4th, 2012

Back in early Summer Larry from Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings had a giveaway on his blog.  He was giving away his homemade chili powder to 3 lucky winners.  I was one of the winners.  He uses high quality herbs and spices from Penzy’s in his chili blend.  It is made up of chipotle pepper, ancho pepper, garlic powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, paprika, onion powder, cilantro, and thyme powder.

All I can tell you is that it is like chili in a jar.  One sniff of it will transport you to visions of a big pot of chili.  Larry asked for feedback on his blend and all I can say is “don’t change a thing”.  This is now the blend I will use in every pot of chili that I make.  I think he should market it.

With Fall in the air I knew it was time to get out my big, deep cast iron pot to make a batch of chili.  My chili has always been made as a whim on my part.  I have made it with chunks of beef, flavored it with chocolate, and made one pot with so many peppers in it that our guests couldn’t eat it.  There has never been a set recipe.  But this pot turned out so well that I am committing it to memory and this post.

I like contrast in a bowl of chili so I used three kinds of beans; black beans, cannellini beans and chili beans (flavored pinto beans).  I wanted a quick chili so I used ground beef.  The sauce was a combination of canned crushed tomatoes and canned marinara sauce.  But what made it really good was Larry’s chili powder blend.

Thanks Larry for a great gift.  When I run out I will gladly pay you for a new supply.


1 1/3 pounds ground chuck
1 large onion, chopped
3 heaping tablespoons Chili Blend
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28 ounce can crushed, peeled Italian tomatoes
1 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce (I like Rao’s Homemade Sauce)
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can Harvest Farms Organic chili beans (not drained)
Cayenne pepper to taste (I did not use it.  The blend was just right for my taste)

Brown ground beef and onion in a pot until cooked through.  Drain off fat.  Return to stove and add chili blend and salt and pepper.  Cook stirring for a few minutes.  Add canned tomatoes and marinara sauce.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  Add beans and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes on low heat.  Add cayenne pepper if chili is not hot enough for you.

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Cajun Shrimp Stew

December 29th, 2011

Here is an easy shrimp dish with a New Orleans slant.  We have been traveling so much this holiday season that I have found easy meals, while we are home, the only option.  We got back to Florida yesterday and are heading to Charleston for New Years with our friends tomorrow.

Enjoy the New Year’s celebrations and I will see you back here in 2012.  My blog’s 4th anniversary is approaching and I will be having a giveaway and hopefully a new look.

CAJUN SHRIMP STEW (Gourmet Magazine)

2 tablespoons vegetale oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped geen bell pepper
1 cup bottled clam juice (8 fl oz)
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 lb peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

Accompaniment: White Rice

Stir together oil and flour in a 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) with a metal or wooden spatula, then cook over moderate heat, scraping back and forth constantly, until roux is the color of light milk chocolate, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook, scraping back and forth occasionally, until bell pepper is softened, about 8 minutes.  Stir in clam juice, water, salt, and cayenne and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in shrimp and simmer, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is just cooked through, 3 to 4 mintues.  Stir in scallion greens and salt to taste.

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October 7th, 2011

What Cassoulet is to France, Cocido is to Spain.  This Spanish soup has many variations depending on the region in which it is made.  Basically it is a brothy pot of chickpeas, with many kinds of meat and vegetables.  In Madrid the main meat is beef, but this version from Galicia, where pork is produced, relies more on the meat from the pig.  The original recipe came from The Dean and Deluca Cookbook by David Rosengarten.  I made a few changes to it.

The amount of meat called for sounds staggering.  I kept the butcher at the Fresh Market busy gathering together what I needed.  There was the stewing chicken which I could not find, so substituted whole chicken legs.  There was the pork loin which was easy enough.  It called for a veal shank, but I chose to use a beef shank which was half the price.  A ham hock was added to my purchases and then chorizo sausages.  By this time the butcher was ready to throw in an extra sausage for free.  It was nice of him.

The soup takes a while to cook.  The dried chickpeas have to be soaked overnight and the meat simmers in the broth and chickpeas for 2 1/2 hours.  Then the vegetables are added; onions, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and cabbage if you have room.  My largest stock pot was full to the brim with no room for cabbage.  The recipe I was following didn’t call for it anyway.

I was thinking to myself by this time that I had much too much soup.  I would suggest that you halve the recipe.  But I have a feeling that it will freeze well and I will be happy with all of the leftovers.  It was a very satisfying soup and I will make it again.

COCIDO (Adapted from The Dean and Deluca Cookbook)

3 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight ( 1 1/2 lbs dried chickpeas)
3 Whole large chicken legs skinned and separated into legs and thighs
1 pound pork loin cut into 3-inch chunks
1 pound ham hock
1 pound beef shank
2 cups dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water
6 chorizo sausages
1 large onion, minced
3 large garlic cloves, mionced
4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 parships, peeled and coarsely diced
3 carrots, coarsely diced
1 bay leaf
1 fresh red hot chili pepper (optional)  I used red pepper flakes at the end of cooking

Drain the chickpeas and place then in a large stockpot.  Add the chicken, pork loin, ham hock, beef shank, wine, chicken stock, and water.  Bring to a boil, remove froth, reduce heat to moderate, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours.

Add the chorizos, onion, garlic, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, bay leaf, and chili.  Simmer gently, uncovered for 1 hour more.

When ready to serve cocido, remove ham hock and beef shank.  Cut meat off of the bones, discard bones, and return shredded meat to stock pot.  Remove the bay leaf.  I also had to remove the bones from the chicken because it had cooked to shreds.

Divide among soup bowls and serve.  Serves 6.  I would say it serves more, especially if you cut the chorizos into pieces.

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When Only the Best Will Do – Vandele Farms

June 9th, 2011

Located on Cane Creek Road in Lake Lure is a farm run by the Crocker family.  Kathleen and Larry Crocker have been raising cows and pigs for many years.  Origninally they used the meat for their own consumption, but there was so much interest in what they were doing they began raising their animals for commercial consumption.  The meat from Vandele Farms is USDA approved, but most importantly, it is chemical, additive and antibiotic free.  Their beef is pastured and given a supplement of vegetarian, chemical free feed.  Take a look at their website and the gallery of pictures showing pigs frolicking in the fields.  There is something to be said for meat from animals who have been treated humanely.  I, for one, feel good about buying farm raised meat and supporting my local economy.

From that beautifully marbled beef chuck I made my Daube de Boeuf Provencale.  The long slow cooking rendered the beef tenderly delicious.   The origin of the word daube comes from the French name of the cooking vessel, a daubiere, in which the beef stew is cooked.  The vessel is shaped in such a way that it traps the moisture that is released in the cooking process and keeps the stew moist.  You can achieve the same results in any heavy covered casserole by placing a round of parchment paper over the beef mixture.

I have looked at many daube recipes.  The Provencal origin of the recipe dictates that it should include olives, but many of the recipes I saw do not include olives.  If you are an olive lover, do include them.  But be aware that they do impart their distinctive flavor to the dish.

I am flying to Anchorage, Alaska today to join David on his motorcycle trip.  I will post when I can.  The guys are going halibut fishing while in Homer, Alaska so I am hoping to get pictures of the catch and the preparation of the fish.  We will journey from Alaska to Vancouver, where I will meet up with  a fellow blogger.  I am excited to meet her.  Then it is on to Bend, Oregon where we will check out some of the wineries and enjoy the scenery before we girls fly home.  An adventure awaits!


3 lbs beef chuck, cut into cubes
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brandy
5 tablespoons  olive oil, divided
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, grated
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (32 ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juices
12 green olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup white mushrooms
1/4 cup chanterelle mushrooms
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms
3 fresh parsley sprigs, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place beef, wine, brandy and 3 tablespoons oil in an airtight container and refregerate at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

In a large frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat; remove bacon and set aside, reserving drippings in pan.

Remove beef from marinade, reserving marinade, and blot dry.  Brown at medium heat in bacon drippings with 2 extra tablespoons of olive oil if needed in 3 to 4 batches.  Set beef aside on plate as browned.  Sweat onions, garlic and carrots in pan for 5 to 6 minutes.  Add browned beef, reserved beef marinade, bay leaf, thyme, tomatoes and olives.  Bring to a boil.  Cover with a round of parchment paper and the lid and place in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sear mushrooms in a separate frying pan over medium-high heat in 2 tablespoons oil.  When beef is complete, remove from oven and stir in mushrooms and parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Thicken with a slurry of flour and water if needed.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.