Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Improvised Chili

The theme of the week (or my life in general?) has been about improvisation. After entertaining various friends and relatives from out of town on consecutive weekends, the food rations were running low, since grocery shopping using public transit ends up becoming an all-day affair. This is especially true for a crazy like me - we go to the Sunrise Mart in the East Village for Japanese ingredients, Kam Man for bulk noodles, rice and tea, the ghetto C-Town near the apartment for basics, Rossman Farms for produce and fruit, and Whole Foods for anything else I missed - yes, it's obsessive, but what can ya do when you are the offspring of two chefs? If you know any chefs, you know they all have very strong opinions about food, talk about food, think about, eat and buy food all the time. Although I am not a very good cook, I certainly got the good-eater gene. But I'm digressing...

Long story short - the weather was getting colder. I was hungry. I wanted to make something quick. Problem: I only had 3 sausages and a handful of vegetables in the fridge. Whipping out my trusty Joy of Cooking cookbook, I picked a chili recipe that had sausage in it, then disregarded it because the recipe freaked me out a little, then picked it back up again. What I ended up with was a hybrid of the Joy of Cooking recipe and an old Rachel Ray recipe that I had copied down from a former roommate's book. The result was a tangy, not very spicy chili that was loaded with different textures - I was a little weary adding celery to a chili but it wasn't bad! More healthy, although not as flavorful as others I have tried and made.

Spiced Sausages (I used 3 medium links - about 1/2 lbs?) with skins taken off and the meat inside separated
28 ounce can of tomatoes
1 cup wine or beer
1 cup chicken broth, using water and a sliver of bouillon cube (sorry, I cheated)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (a good excuse to use my microplane)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sage
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp grade A maple syrup (bought from a wild-eyed farmer in Arcadia, ME)
1 14-16 ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-16 ounce can of corn kernels, drained

I cooked the meat first, draining some of the fat out. Put meat aside, cooked the onions, garlic, and celery in my stockpot. Added everything except the beans and corn into the pot; let boil, then simmered for 30 minutes. Added beans and corn; cooked for 15 minutes more. A real chili would have taken all day, but I am a real crab cake when hungry so I devoured it soon after the beans and corn were added. As far as chilies go, it's not the best, but certainly not the worst. The best part were the leftovers - given the lack of any, much less healthy eating alternatives in the Bronx where I work, I was spared from buying yogurt cups at the grocery store and calling it a meal - yay.

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