Spicy Weeknight Chili

Now that comfort food season has kicked in and the temperatures are down in the 30s, I decided to whip up some quick weeknight chili. I’m also trying to clean out my freezer before I head South for a few months.

In this recipe, I used ground turkey, but you can use beef or pork as well. Most of the ingredients are in the typical household pantry. In most recipes where I would normally use red-wine vinegar, lately I’ve switched it out for Ume Plum Vinegar. Tangy and salty, it is made from Japanese ume plums. It is also great as a condiment and in salad dressings; a rich, tart sweetness paired with salt.

WeeknightChili

Let’s get cooking!! 🙂

2-3 Tbsp olive oil  (I used cilantro and roasted onion infused olive oil)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp Ume Plum Vinegar (you can substitute red-wine vinegar)
One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
Two 16 oz cans of dark red kidney beans
1/2 cup of good red wine
Ground pepper and salt, to taste

Heat a large saute pan on medium and add the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic; saute until they start to get soft, around five minutes.

Add the turkey (or beef) to the pan. Brown the meat and then add the cumin, oregano, basil, and chili powder. Stir well to distribute the spices.

Stir in the Ume Plum vinegar and crushed tomatoes, and simmer on lower heat for 15 minutes. Add the red wine and kidney beans; simmer for 15 more minutes on just enough heat to hold a simmer. If the chili appears to be a bit too thick, add 1/2 cup of water.

Take the chili off heat and let stand for at least five minutes. Scoop into bowls and add your favorite chili toppings. I added shredded cheese, sour cream, and my most favorite herb – fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Suggested chili toppings: Sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, corn bread crumbles, and avocado.

 

 

Shakshuka and My First Experience with Cast Iron

I recently picked up a couple of pieces of cast iron cookware to try. I’ve been reading a lot about it, particularly in the Cast Iron Cookbook group on Facebook. I am a cast iron newbie, and have been reluctant to try it because I was under the impression that it couldn’t be used on glasstops. Wrong! It is in fact safe to use on glasstops; just no sliding across the top, and take care when you put it down on the top. The pans I picked up were pre-seasoned Lodge cast iron. Some people recommended seasoning them, some said it was okay to just wash with hot water and use them. With my first piece, I just washed the pan and got going.

My good friend posted a picture of Shakshuka that he had made for dinner and I got inspired. Shakshuka is a lovely dish of Tunisian origin, eggs cooked softly in a spicy tomato sauce. First introduced and popular in Israel, is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisines, and is traditionally served in a cast iron pan or tajine with bread to mop up the sauce. There are many different variations on Shakshuka, below is my version of this delicious dish (adapted from Tori Avey’s page). Next I believe I will tackle Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s version in the stunning Jerusalem cookbook.

I use harissa-infused olive oil in this recipe, but plain olive oil works just as well. I also used fresh tomato sauce that my mom canned in the summer. Luckily I was the beneficiary of a good supply of pints of this summer deliciousness.

Oh, and as for the cast iron….I’m in LOVE!!! 🙂

Shakshuka

2 tbsp harissa-infused olive oil
1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp medium chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot Spanish paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm the olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the pan, stir till blended. Add the spices, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, a bit of sugar if you like a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier Shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne… it is extremely spicy!).

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which may lead to burning.

If you like your eggs runny with Shakshuka, let the sauce reduce for a few minutes before cracking the eggs on top. Then cover the pan and cook the eggs to taste.

Garnish with the chopped cilantro, if desired; and serve with a warm, crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Enjoy! 🙂