Once, a long time ago, a boy and a girl were just married. They recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Austin, Texas and Madrid, Spain. The boy worked at the Centers for Disease Control. Just a normal job; he was usually home early, by about 17:30. When the girl didn’t cook her food (too “fancy” at times for his manly taste), he made big pots of savory, spicy chili. Then, the boy went to medical school – next, surgical residency. The boy was now a doctor. He got home from work very late. Sadly, there was no time for him to prepare delicious chili. So, the girl learned to cook his beloved dish – masculine and hearty. Once again, all was right in the world.
A healthful, cool and flavorful accompaniment to a bowl of warm chili is a light and refreshing salad of spicy arugula, parsley, mushroom, Bosc pear, bing cherries, brown Turkish figs, chèvre, pistachios and balsamic vinaigrette. A bit of femininity and finesse inimitably juxtaposes the hearty, beefy, boot-stomping chili.
Yesterday evening – in need of a bit of exercise, as well as chili toppings and salad ingredients – I took a relaxing walk in the cool, night air to the local Co-op. I happily carried home a bag filled with raw-milk Milk; sweet, local pears; fragrant, organic cilantro; superlative, soft Turkish brown figs with their juicy, sweet pulp.
A generous grate of aged Manchego cheese takes this dish from ordinary to extraordinary – from food for mortals to that fit for gods. I first discovered the nutty, sharp queso in España, where it is termed queso oveja curado. It is my gateway cheese. At first bite, I egress from the land of boring, bland orange blocks of milk curd: the doors open to a life-long journey in true fromage. I hope that you try a bit of queso oveja curado on your chili – and take an adventure in cheese.
Of course, when one eats chili, a bit of carbohydrate is required. Maybe a savory muffin slathered in butter or slice of hearty cornbread? Or a handmade ciabatta roll, warmed on the grill with generous dashes of extra virgin olive oil. Ciabatta is of my favorite breads – soft and pillowy inside and flawlessly crisp outside. Bubbles of air burst inside the loaf while it bakes – pure magic. Abba is enamored by the this delicate, buttery white bread. It’s a change of pace from whole-grain, artisan loaves of this-or-that Ima often buys. “Whole-grain, schmole-grain,” says Abba.
One locally owned spot about a mile down the road makes fantastic ciabatta (and focaccia). For each loaf you purchase, the owner stamps a bread card. After eleven stamps, the twelfth loaf is free. Plus, pastry samples are standard for all customers – particularly hungry kids, recently picked up from school. Who can argue with that?
Are you hungry yet? I am! Let’s get this slow-cooker chili started!
Snu Magoo is pretty excited to make some chili – and nibble on the fresh corn!
The cooked buffalo is reminiscent of chocolate, so Littlest Guy happily nibbles away. The finished dish may be a bit short on meat.
No one gets between Littlest Guy and “buffalo chocolate.”
We have everything prepared to make chili!
(Not pictured: cannellini beans, fresh chiles, tomato sauce).
First, place the vegetables in the slow-cooker. Oh, salubrious and colorful produce!
Then, add the spices, beans and tomatoes.
Pour the beer in. Take a sip of brew if the time of day is appropriate for jubilation.
Add the tomato sauce.
Just as the final ingredients of chili come together, Abba comes in from the garden with the last chile peppers of the season.
It’s as if the chiles were grown for batch of chili alone! Add the chopped chiles to swim amongst the hearty beans, nutritious vegetables and succulent buffalo.
Season the chili with salt and pepper and give it a final stir.
Cover and turn on the slow-cooker.
Allow the fabulous flavors to enhance and marry all day!
Linger over a long-simmering, warm bowl of chili…
With a sprinkle of queso oveja curado, of course.
Update: According to Abba, this chili is even better for lunch the next day.
Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chili
1 pound lean ground buffalo, browned and broken into small pieces in a pan and drained of excess fat
1 cup of sweet baby carrots, diced small
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, diced small
1 large spanish or sweet yellow onion, diced small
the corn of 2 ears fresh ears, about 1 1/2 cups
8 cloves of garlic, minced
4 small chiles, seeded with septum and membranes removed, minced
2 cans low-sodium black beans, rinsed well and drained (in a colander)
2 cans low-sodium pinto, kidney or cannellini beans; also rinsed well and drained
8 Tbsp. homemade chili powder (recipe below) or a high-quality spice blend, such as World Spice’s Chili Powder
1, 12-ounce can of gluten-free beer that actually tastes great – or good microbrew (I used Odell IPA from Fort Collins, CO)
1, 24-ounce can organic, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup organic chipotle salsa
2 cups homemade or best quality marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste (this depends on the salt content of your canned products)
chopped, fresh cilantro or parsley
Greek yogurt or Crème fraîche
shredded, aged Manchego cheese
- Combine all ingredients in a slow-cooker.
- Stir well and cover.
- Cook on low for 10 hours (all day) or on high for 6 hours.
- Stir well.
- Taste and re-season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Serve hot with your toppings of choice!
Homemade Chili Powder II
3 Tbsp. ground, smoked paprika
2 Tbsp. each: ground cumin and coriander
1 Tbsp. each: dried thyme, and parsley or Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp. each: dried, granulated garlic and onion
1 tsp. red chile/pepper flakes
- Mix all spices well in a small bowl.
- Enjoy in chili or use as a rub for grilled meats and fish.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.
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