The obligatory??? pre Super Bowl Food Column
I read somewhere that the Sunday of the Super Bowl is the second biggest food-centric day after Thanksgiving.
So how can a column on food memories not honor that importance... for the commercials, the half-time show, the tail gate parties, and especially the parties all over the country? And a lot of them will be serving chili in some form or another so I figured I might as well weigh in with my version. You could even have a chili cook-off at your get together, it would cut down on the host expenses!
Few things can start a lively conversation more quickly than bringing up the subject of chili. The styles and ingredients vary from state to state, region to region, heck, even between different neighborhoods within cities and towns. But then isn’t variety the spice of life? And part of the fun is where and how the recipe came to be your favorite. Was it passed down in your family, generation to generation, or did it make a sideways move like great recipes sometimes do, or you can adopt it from a favorite bar or other hang out... So the story of my chili recipe goes back to the opening days of Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. Sorry to say it is not just the publisher of the Weekly who has issues with women. I followed my college sweetheart to Paris for a couple of years, and then back to Berkeley where we had origi- nally met at the Faculty Club, while she got a degree in genetics, lab experi ence, and I got restaurant management experience (and a degree in Political Science). In Paris she did work at the Pasteur Institute, working on the genetic basis of Muscular Dystrophy, supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (thanks Jerry Lewis and the Telethon), while I did a program as an interpreter and assistant at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne and later worked in some restaurants to gain experience. So after a stint back at the Faculty Club at Berkeley, I followed her to the University of Utah, where she started a PhD program in molecular biology, and I lucked into a great job as the opening Chef at Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley. So that is how this french- trained chef ended up working on chili for an exclusive, food-centric resort, a recipe that would work at 8200 feet in altitude (where water boils at about 192 F). I had to learn that most things took longer to cook, and that the atmosphere was much drier than the coasts and other places I was used to cooking. All of the recipes needed to be designed for high altitude cook- ing, to which we quickly adjusted, and even had to remember to compensate whenever we went to cook anywhere else lower! All in all it was an incred- ible experience, we created a place that is still known for its excellent food, and I take pride that people I hired there 30 years ago are still there, building on the foundations of quality that we started back then.
I do remember that we couldn’t make up our minds on the variables of chili: ground beef or beef chunks, beans or no beans, spicy or mild...all of those variables that exist in the recipes across our wonderful country. So we compromised and made two different varieties, one with ground beef and beans, and the other with beef chunks, a more chunky texture and a rich beef chili broth. And that was before we even got into the wonderful green chiles we started getting in from New Mexico. Over the years though, I have definitely developed a taste for New Mexico chile verde, often with roasted tomatillos and of course lots of green onion and cilantro.
But in the end I think I am going to entertain today my memory of the Deer Valley mountain chili recipe. I can remember tasting it so many times, often after a few laps up and down the mountain, just to stay loose for the lunch and dinner rushes!
Franklin’s Mountain Chili Serves 6 1 Lb Beef stew meat, or pork and beef combined 3 TB oil 3 TB cumin seed 2 cups onion, peeled and diced 2 cups celery, diced 3 TB browned chopped garlic 1 cup diced red bell pepper 2 cups red wine 3 cups canned chopped tomatoes 2 qts beef broth or water 3 cups white beans, cooked or canned To taste salt and pepper To taste hot sauce.
Brown the meat in the hot oil.
Add cumin seed, diced onion, diced celery, browned garlic and red bell pepper.
Cook until lightly browned. Stir in chili powder. Deglaze with red wine. Reduce by 2/3.
Add canned tomatoes, with juice. Add beef broth or water. Add cooked or canned white beans and the reserved meat..
Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 1 hour. Correct seasoning, to taste. Serve with crackers, bread or topped with cheese.