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Turkey Chili

No one questions that chili is a hearty dish, but does it have to be fattening?  By switching from beef to turkey, a significant amount of fat is eliminated, with zero sacrifice of flavor.  Cook time is disproportionate to prep time, so this is something that is easily started, forgotten, and then it’s practically ready!  Plus, leftovers the next day taste even better because there is more time for the flavors to marry and soak into the beans and meat!

turkey chili

turkey chili

Makes 8-10

1 1/4 lbs. of ground turkey

4 cups of beef broth

24 oz. of beer or ale

16 oz. of tomato sauce

12 oz. of dry pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans

1 large white onion

1/4 cup of chili powder

1/4 cup of corn flour

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbs. of tomato paste

2-3 tbs. of kosher salt (to taste, see below)

1 tbs. of cumin

Soak the dry pinto beans in water, preferably overnight.  Drain and thoroughly rinse the kidney beans.  Set aside for now.

Dice the onion, and cook in a dutch oven over medium-low heat on the stove until only lightly caramelized.  Turn the heat to high, then add the salt and meat to the onion, cooking long enough just to brown the meaat.  Add the chili powder, tomato paste, and cumin; stirring frequently, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the broth, beer, tomato sauce, pinto beans, and garlic, and cover to cook for 3-4 hours, or however long it takes for the pinto beans to be tender.  Add 1 tbs. of salt at each hour of cook time – but make sure to taste it first, because you don’t want to add more when it is already salted to your liking.  Add the kidney beans when 1 hour remains before being considered “done,” and add the corn flour when 30 minutes remain.

Garnish with shredded mild cheddar and sour cream, an serve with warmed corn tortillas or cornbread.

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Tacos de Carne Asada

The word taco comes from Nahuatl, a language indigenous to Central America that was used by the Aztec and is still spoken by about 1.5 million people today.  The tlacopan, aka taco, is now a staple across Mexico and its neighbors, and no wonder – one is just enough to tide you over until the next meal, or multiple tacos can be filling and fulfilling, so they please as a snack or an entree.  Simple but scrumptious, make your own instead of visiting that infamous chain and you might not care to return there.

Makes 10 stuffed tacos

1 1/2 lb. flank steak

10 small corn tortillas

2 cups of shredded iceberg lettuce

2 tomatoes, diced

1 large avocado, halved and sliced

1 cup of canola oil (for frying)

1 cup of sour cream

3/4 cup of mild or medium cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup of soy sauce

3 tbs. of milk

1 tbs. of dried cumin

2 tsp. of dried oregano

2 tsp. of garlic powder

2 tsp. of onion powder

1 tsp. of cayenne pepper

Your favorite salsa to taste

marinade

marinade

Make a marinade with the soy sauce, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne.  Mix together in a bowl.  Put the flank steak in a large food storage bag, add the marinade mix, zip closed, and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

fry 'em up

fry ’em up

Fill a deep-sided saute pan with the oil.  Heat over medium heat.  One or two at a time, place the tortillas in the oil; fry each side for roughly 1 minute, turning only once.  The edges of the tortillas will be harder while the centers stay somewhat softer.

Using tongs and a long knife, as soon as you take a tortilla out of the oil, bend it over the knife.

draining

draining

Use brown paper bags to soak up oil and let the tortilla shells drain and harden.  Mix the sour cream with milk and transfer to a squirt bottle for fancier looking presentation, but keep in the refrigerator for now.

grill it up

grill it up

Clean and then preheat the grill on medium-high heat.  Grill the flank steak to your desired temperature, flipping once.

medium rare

medium rare

Roughly 10 minutes on each side would be medium-rare.

sliced

sliced

Remove the meat from the grill and transfer to a clean cutting board.  Let rest for 5-6 minutes.  Slice lengthwise, then each strip slice into thin pieces – the thinner the meat, the easier to eat.

Load up the shells with: steak, salsa of your choice, lettuce, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tomato.

tacos con carne asada

tacos de carne asada

Fried Green Tomato BLT

Bacon sandwiches are common in Great Britain, but the BLT by that name is an American standard for going on 100 years.  For our Bacon Blow Out dinner party last night, one of the main entrees was this sandwich but Chef Zach put a twist on it with fresh red tomato and fried green tomato.  The vegetables we used were natural or organic, with the red tomato from our garden and the green from Zach’s mom’s.  If your tomatoes aren’t red enough yet, look in your grocery store for softer tomatoes, just a little give but nowhere near mushy.

For 15 people

6 lbs. of Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon

2 rounds of sliced sourdough bread from Boudin Bakery

10 green tomatoes

10 red tomatoes

1 large head of iceberg lettuce

2 cups of bread crumbs

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 cups of mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

1 cup of corn meal

1 cup of peanut oil

2 eggs

1/4 cup of Lowry’s seasoned salt, divided in 3 equal parts

Heat a large griddle over medium heat.  Fry the bacon on the griddle.  As you remove the cooked bacon, transfer to a sheet pan lined with lots of paper towels.  Keep this sheet pan in the oven on a warm setting (no higher than 180 degrees F).  Every time you add more bacon to the griddle, you will need to get rid of the previous bacon’s grease; remove with a metal tablespoon or a baster.  You don’t have to remove all the grease, but you don’t want the bacon swimming, either.

Cut the red tomatoes into 1/4″-thick slices.  Cut the green tomatoes into 1/2″-thick slices.  Wash the lettuce and tear into sandwich-sized pieces.

In 3 large bowls of equal size, put the flour in one, the buttermilk and egg in the second, and the corn meal and bread crumbs in the third.  Evenly distribute the Lowry’s seasoned salt among the three bowls, and mix each bowl separately.

Fill a large cast iron pan with 1/2″ of peanut oil.  Heat between medium and medium-low until the oil is at the temperature where if you add a drop of water, it splatters.

With a dry hand, dredge the green tomatoes first in the seasoned flour.  With your other hand, dredge the floured tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture.  With the wet hand, drop the tomatoes into the bread crumbs and dust with your dry hand.  By keeping one “dry” and one “wet,” this will prevent you from getting your hands excessively dirty.

From the bread crumb dusting, transfer the green tomato slices to the hot oil.  Fry for roughly 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  When done, drain on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.

The sourdough bread comes in large oval slices, so cut them in half to make more manageable sandwiches.  Toast the bread very lightly and spread both pieces with mayonnaise.

Build the sandwich with 1 slice of red tomato, 2 green tomato slices, 2 strips of bacon halved (for 4 pieces at a good length for the bread), and 3 pieces of lettuce.

fried green tomato blt

fried green tomato blt