Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reverse Pyschology of Corn Chip Curves

There was some "gooood" food happening this superbowl weekend. I say "gooood" because it depends on your definition of good. The food was certainly none of the following: healthy, fresh, fiber or vitamin filled, unique, or unprocessed. The food was, however, all of the following: fattening, cheesy, flavorful, salty, and oh so craved. Basically, it all involved beans, cheese and corn chips. Almost everything came out of aluminum of some sort, and it all ended up spicy.

To spare you all the dredges of typically yummy football fare, I'll provide only two recipes instead of the whole lot. The first is entirely of my own invention, something I'd like to call a Reverse Jalapeno Popper. Are you intrigued yet? I was hoping the word reverse would make things interesting. I wanted to make poppers, but I didn't want to deep fry anything. Instead of stuffing the jalapenos with the cream cheese, I put the cheese on the outside and the jalapenos on the inside in a baked casserole sort of a dip. The resulting creation tasted amazingly like real poppers. It saved me such a quantity of time and such a would-be mess that I don't even want to think about ever making real poppers again. I think it's a dish even Rachael Rae would be proud of.

The second dish wasn't anything terribly atypical, but I thought I'd share the recipe for three reasons: (1) it involved the Le Creuset in a prepare-ahead-of-time way that I liked, (2) in case you ever need a recipe for chili to feed 14, here it is, and (3) I have now met several people who have no idea what Frito pie is. If you don't know what Frito pie is, keep reading.

Frito Pie pie is simple perfection: chili spooned over Frito corn chips. It's crunchy, corny, salty and spicy. I'm not even a person who usually eats Frito's, or really even any kind of bagged dipping chip (the all-that-is-holy-tortilla-chip aside). I can't remember the last time I had Frito Pie - it's been quite a while - but it's the sort of comfort food that's perfect for cold weather, and even more perfect for a Superbowl party.

When thinking about a chili recipe, I wanted something that would work well with the big Frito dippers I brought back from the grocery store - i.e., a primarily smooth base. Any chunks of vegetables needed to be the right size to fit in the corn chip curves, so I used a food processor to mince most of the ingredients, but I reserved the peppers and some of the onion to keep the texture interesting. It needed to be veggie, of course, which required beans. I finally took the plunge and decided to soak up some dry beans from scratch (usually I just use canned, especially for smaller portions), and I was rewarded with wonderfully creamy and flavorful pinto beans. It was definitely worth the small trouble. Canned black beans added a little variety and color. I added both fresh jalapenos for some bright spice and a dried chipotle chile for a little heartier depth (I'm working heard to enjoy this flavor... and also to use up the box of dried chipotles sitting in my pantry...), and beer to round out the deeper flavors. Finally, I think the most important part of a tomato based anything is using good quality canned tomatoes. Find a brand you like and stick to it. The longer you cook the tomatoes, the sweeter and heartier they'll get.

I'll admit that Greg and I have been eating like....well, we've been eating like Tori, lately. She's the only good analogy for it. Even though I'm full, I'm still snacking on the cookies... the chips... the dips... the soda... the Frito Pie... everything that is left over from our party on Sunday. If I see it, I seem to be eating it. I promise something a little more fresh and healthy for next posting's recipe, even if I haven't made it, or, even thought about it, yet!

Reverse Jalapeno Poppers
Serves 4-10

4 tbsp butter
6-8 fresh jalapenos
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
16 oz cream cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp mayonnaise
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat with the butter in it (heavy bottom so as to avoid burning the jalapenos)
  2. Slice the jalapenos lengthwise. Using a small spoon, carve out the seeds and scrape any remaining white parts. Slice into 1/4" half rounds. Add jalapenos, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to skillet and fry for several minutes, until bread crumbs are golden brown and jalapenos are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, add cream cheese, egg, Cayenne and mayonnaise to a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  4. Pour cream cheese mixture over jalapenos and bread crumbs in a small ovenproof dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until set in the middle
  5. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
*I only had 2tbsp of mayo at hand, though both Greg and I agreed this needed a little more moisture. I'd suggest 4 tbsp of mayo instead.

Vegetarian Chili for Fourteen
Serves: 14, I think

4 large onions*
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 head celery
2 cups baby carrots, or 3-4 medium carrots
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock

3 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 dried chipotle pepper
4.5 oz jar McCormick's Chili Powder
32 oz black beans (canned)
1lb pino beans (dry)
32 oz crushed tomatoes
32 oz whole plum tomatoes in their juices
24 oz good, dark beer
Plenty of salt and pepper
Additional Cayenne if desired
Sour cream and Fritos for serving

  1. Prepare the soup base the night before. Roughly chop all of the vegetables, reserving the chopped peppers and half of the chopped onion. Add the remaining half of the onion and all of the celery, garlic and carrots to a food processor in batches. Process until finely minced. Add all of the minced and chopped vegetables to a dutch oven with the olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened throughout. Remove cover and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the onions develop a brown color and start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with vegetable stock. Take off the burner and cool before placing in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Add water to cover the pinto beans and soak overnight
  3. Reheat soup base from the previous night and add tomatoes. Rehydrate chipotle in a small volume of water and mince with the fresh jalapenos. Add peppers to soup with chili powder and allow to simmer for about an hour
  4. Meanwhile, rinse soaked beans very well and add to a separate pot with water to cover. Bring to a low simmer and cook until softened, about an hour.
  5. Add cooked pintos and canned black beans to the chili, cooking for an additional hour. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Add beer and simmer with the cover off for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Season with plenty of salt and black pepper, with additional Cayenne if desired. 10 minutes before serving, stir in beer. Serve over Frito's with sour cream on top.
*I used two red and two yellow onions, but in retrospect I think all yellow would be better.

1 comment:

Linda said...

your photography is so beautiful and that looks like some tasty superbowl food!!! thanks for sharing this!