Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ultimate beef chili for one, with leftovers

August 19, 2012
Ultimate Beef Chili
Saltine Crackers
Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock

The last few weeks we were on vacation for Sunday dinner so I also took a vacation from blogging. But a quick recap might be in order.

On Sunday, August 5, thanks to Diane's brother, Jay, we found ourselves at Seattle's CenturyLink Field for a soccer game between the Seattle Sounders and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The game was sold out with over 60,000 boisterous fans in the stands. I had a local hot dog for dinner, nothing special. I also ordered a soft drink which was served in a plastic bottle. The server removed the top for me and I was at first thinking, "how nice, that's good service". However, he handed me the bottle but not the top which seemed odd. "I could spill it while walking to me seat", I was thinking. I later leaned that while the bottles are recyclable, the tops are not, so they separate them at the counter. Diane had a fancier "Seattle Dog", a polish sausage served with cheese and onions. Vegetarian Caryn had pizza.

On Sunday, August 12, Caryn and I were on the road and used  urbanspoon to find a Chinese restaurant in The Dalles, Oregon. This led us to Canton Wok, a real find. It had a 94% rating with a lot of reviews and it was inexpensive. Our experience was consistent with the glowing reviews. Caryn ordered a vegetarian Chow Mein and I got lemon chicken. These were served with soup, steamed rice, and hot tea. Both were delicious and the serving sizes were humongous; if we'd known we would have ordered half portions and still we would have gone out the door with plenty of leftovers. With tip our dinner was just over $20.

For my first Sunday back at home after vacation, I was alone. Caryn had returned to college and Diane was visiting her mom in Oregon. I wanted to prepare something that would leave me with easy-to-reheat leftovers for weeknight dinner. Since I was alone I didn't need to please anyone other than myself. Not that I usually worry a lot about what others would like for dinner. One of the reasons I started cooking once a week is because there are dishes I enjoy that Diane is unlikely to make. I don't try to prepare food that she doesn't want to eat, and she's yet to turn anything down, but it does provide me an opportunity to make things that, for one reason or another, appeal to me.

I decided to make a chili. I used a Test Kitchen recipe I'm pretty sure I've used before. In this recipe you create your own chili powder from dried chilies and I still had the right varieties of dried chilies in the cupboard from last time. They call this their ultimate chili because you do make your own chili powder and use dried, rather than canned, beans. The original recipe calls for four pounds of beef. I made half of this as it seemed a little much for just one person. Despite eschewing chili powder and canned beans, the recipe was not overly time consuming or difficult to prepare. The final product was a little too spicy for my taste, not being a big fan of foods that make my eyes water and nose run. I didn't know, though, if this was from the one dried árbol chili or from the two fresh jalapeños. That is, until I was reviewing the photos. I had purchased a 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes and hadn't noticed until I saw the photo that they contained diced jalapeños.

I had been thinking of making some corn bread, too, but didn't get around to doing that. So I served it with some saltine crackers (that I adorned with peanut butter and jelly) and a nice glass of beer. I was left with enough leftovers for several dinners and all I need to do is warm it up in the microwave.

 Ultimate beef chili from America's Test Kitchen

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