Super Bowl Sunday

I just read that Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year in the U.S. (Thanksgiving being the first.) It must certainly be the unhealthiest: a license to indulge in the greasiest, saltiest, most calorific, cardiac-arrest-inducing offerings without guilt, all in the name of a football game. (We’re huge football fans around here.) No grilled chicken breast-Caesar salads but rather Buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese sauce, ribs, chips and dips, and, of course, chili. Not to be left out, I offer my recipe for both chili and a four-layer dip (seven layers have too many flavors, we think) which we have always called Plate o’ Slop.  This could, of course, be scooped up with carrot and celery sticks, but it really is much better mounded atop the best tortilla chips you can find. (We favor these.)

Plate O’ Slop

Serves: However many, until gone

Ingredients:

For the bean layer:

3-15 oz. cans black beans

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped (do 3 at once, one each for the beans, salsa and guacamole)

Juice of 1 lime, salt

For the tomato salsa:

6-8  tomatoes (the ripest you can find), cubed

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped 

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped mild onion, red or white

Salt, pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

For the guacamole:

4 ripe avocados

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon lime juice, salt

To assemble:

1 8 oz. pot sour cream

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

The ingredient list is long but there is a lot of overlap and, if you use a food processor, it comes together in no time at all.

For the  bean layer:  Put them in a pot with all of their liquid, the cumin, chili powder, and garlic.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the flavors are blended and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Mash the beans against the side of the pot or put the mixture in the food processor and pulse three or four times until you have a spreadable mixture – about half beans, half thick puree. 

For the tomato salsa:  Mix all the ingredients.  Let drain in a colander until ready to assemble the dip.

For the guacamole:  Either mash the avocados coarsely and add the rest of the ingredients or pulse everything in a food processor, stopping short of having a smooth mixture.

Assembling the dip:  Spread the beans on the bottom of an approximately 9″ x 12″ dish.  Cover with the drained salsa, then the guacamole, then about a 1/2″ of sour cream.  Sprinkle with the cilantro and devour.

Chili

There are probably more “award winning” recipes for chili than any other food item in existence, and people tend to think their recipe is the best. I don’t have any such illusions, but mine is fairly flexible in its ingredients, relatively easy to make, and has pleased family and friends for about 50 years. With regard to its “heat “and that of the dip, I leave it to you to decide how spicy you want things to be, particularly if kids are involved. You can always add hot sauce or extra chiles. As for the chocolate and the beer, I list them as optional because while I do think they add richness and complexity, if you don’t have them on hand you will still have a very flavorful chili without them.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. regular ground beef (20% fat)

1 pound lean ground pork (or use 3 lbs. ground beef)

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1-28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped

1-12 oz. can dark beer (optional)

3-15 oz. cans red kidney beans

1 oz. dark chocolate (optional)

Brown the meat in 3 batches over medium heat, draining each batch of most of its fat after browning. (I just tip them into the same colander, saving about a tablespoon of  fat for the onions.)  Cook the onions until softened (about 5 minutes) then add the garlic, the meat, all the spices and the salt.  Continue to cook and stir over medium heat for a few minutes until the meat has absorbed the spice flavors.  Add the tomatoes and the optional beer (or replace it with water).  Make sure the liquid just covers the meat mixture, adding more water if necessary.  When it comes to the boil, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for at least an hour, adding more water as needed to keep the liquid level just covering the meat.  It is important to taste as you go, making sure that it has the heat and chili flavor that you want, as well as enough salt.  Chili powders vary a great deal so you may want to add more at an early stage, or more cayenne, or a chopped jalapeño or two. 

Drain and rinse the beans and add them after the meat has cooked for an hour. 

Add the chocolate about 10 minutes before the end of cooking (earlier, it won’t add much to the flavor).

I like to serve the chili with rice and have bowls of guacamole, salsa, and sour cream available for garnish (you can make extras when making the Plate o’ Slop), but I recognize that these might not be your first choice.  So feel free to serve your chili with grated cheese, chopped onion, tortilla chips, corn bread, or whatever else suits your fancy. 

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