Sunday, July 24

A Southern Kosher-Mexican-Indian Chili at Midtown

It was such a beautiful day at the Midtown Market! 99F degrees (index 111F), a constant breeze to keep me cool, and the live music was soft 70s with an island mix. Very easy to pretend I was at the beach. Many people come just as much for the morning music as they do for the vendors. If you're old enough to remember going to town on Saturday mornings to catch up with family and friends, you have a pretty good idea of what the North Hills Farmers Market is like.

But, of course, there was work to be done and food to get ready. Nothing cools you off faster than a hot chili. I don't pretend to understand the mechanics of the 'pepper in the belly so cooler on the outside' process. I just know it works. So, I decided to prepare some for my samples today. Now, here's the dilemma: I'm a Yankee gal who married a Southern boy. In case you didn't know, Southerners put meat on meat. What?!?! Oh, yeah. Hot dogs are served with a generous dollop of chili, cheese, and cole slaw. On the other hand, Yankees serve their hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish -- and, you can still SEE the hot dog! But, any other meat is served at a different meal. On the other, other, hand, NC is considered the South. On the other, other, other, hand, I wasn't there to serve hot dogs with all the accoutrements to a crowd of people -- just wanted to give samples of solar cooking. Sooooo, I came up with this Southern Kosher-Mexican-Indian Chili! And, my visitors loved it. And, not just the crowd, either. The BEES decided to stop by and check out my samples, too, so I had to take out the old cover.

I'm not going to take you through step-by-step pictures of the preparation because it's pretty self-explanatory; but, I did get everything started yesterday. (Have definitely learned THAT lesson!) On arrival, set up solar oven to preheat to 225F.

Southern Kosher-Mexican-Indian Chili
 2 pounds extra lean ground round
1 tablespoon tallow/cooking oil
 4 slices chopped Canadian bacon
 1 medium chopped onion
 4 medium chopped banana peppers
 1 small fresh garlic bulb
 2 small cans baked beans
 1 small can kernel corn
 1 small can tomato sauce + 1 can water
 1 teaspoon basil leaves
 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves
 1/2 teaspoon cumin
 1/2 teaspoon allspice
 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup each of grated sharp Cheddar, mozzarella, and Colby cheeses
 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
 2 tablespoons yellow corn meal
 4 thinly sliced Hebrew National hot dogs
 8" Pita rounds sliced and squared to fit bottom of sample cup
  1. Melt tallow/oil in bottom of deep saute pan or stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions and banana peppers until soft; add rough chopped garlic, continue to cook until garlic begins to brown.
  2. Add chopped Canadian bacon, beans, corn, tomato sauce and water, basil, cilantro, cumin, allspice, and let cook for about 3 minutes. Add cocoa powder, red wine vinegar, salt. When mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat to cool.
  3. Over medium high heat, brown ground round throughout.
  4. In medium bowl, combine shredded cheeses with corn meal. This will make the cheeses crumbly and much easier to spread over top of chili.
  5. When vegetable mixture has cooled, puree in food processor. Pour into mixing bowl.
  6. Process cooked meat until small and crumbly. This takes just a few pulses -- you do NOT want a puree, just something mealy. Add to vegetable mixture in mixing bowl; combine thoroughly and pour into baking pans. (I'm using throwaway pans)
  7. Divide cheese mixture evenly between baking pans and distribute over chili.
  8. Cover baking pans with tin foil or throwaway pie pan and seal.
    Place sliced hot dogs and pita bread pieces in separate pans and cover with foil or foil-lined boards. I was limited on space with the solar oven, so I stacked both chili pans and put the hot dog pan on top, and worked the pita pan in front (gently bending to keep cover snug). Since there are no hot spots in a solar oven, it worked beautifully.
    Ready to serve! The corn meal mixed with the cheeses
    gives an interesting texture to the topping.
    Bake for 45-50 minutes. The temperature in the oven, here, is just a tad under the 250F mark.
    Remove chili cover and serve. For my sample serving cups, I put a piece of bread on the bottom, then a few hot dog slices, topped with a generous spoonful of chili mixture. For family servings, you could actually use a whole slice of pita bread topped with the slivered hot dogs (or use them whole) and then slop on the chili mixture.
    You can see the bread on bottom, hot dog slices
     upper left, with the chili cheese mix on top.

    While the throng is waiting for samples, they are able to check out my solar display table and see just how versatile solar cooking can be by browsing through the notebook of meals you've already seen here on this blog, my cookbook A Month of SUNdays - Solar Cooking at Home, some patterned SolarWear(R) covers, take-away brochures, and my solar cooking buttons. 

    1) Cookbook. 2) SolarWear. 3) Button and Jar Sample.
    4) Buttons. 5) Notebook, pix, energy bills, and prices.
    Brochures are between 1 and 2. Stove is on ground
    at right end of display table.
    I don't expect every Saturday to be like today, but what a glorious morning. I felt so good that, after clearing my spot, I dropped into the Ben and Jerry's for a well-deserved Strawberry-Lemon Smoothie. Now, where did I put the rum...? How was your Saturday?


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