Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's leftover time! (Grilled Tri-Tip Roast)


Well, those leftover biscuits came in handy today when lunchtime rolled around and we were fresh out of bread. 

Steve really wanted a sandwich made from the tri-tip we grilled Friday night. But fear not, the biscuits thawed out just fine and made a dandy samy.   A smear of Dukes mayo, some grainy mustard, pickle slices and crisp romaine.  Add a cold Heineken and his favorite spot on the deck, and he was a happy man.
 
Tri-tips are a staple in California, especially the Central Coast around Santa Maria.  I like to marinade ours for as long as possible in the concoction below and then Steve grills it up fast on a screamin’ hot grill.  The trick is to pull it off before it is too far gone and then let the meat  rest for at least 15 minutes during which it will continue to cook to pinky rare perfection.

I like mine sliced thin with crisp Caesar salad and a ear of steamed corn.  But between you and me, the leftovers are the best!


Tri-Tip Roast

Ingredients
  • 1 2 ½ to 3 pound tri tip roast
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper 

Method
  • Mix the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, olive oil and rosemary in a large zip lock bag.  Add the roast and refrigerate 2 hours to over night.
  • 30 minutes before you are ready to grill, pull the meat, blot it dry with a paper towel and liberally apply kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  This is a big piece of meat. Don’t skimp on the seasoning.  Let the roast come to room temp.
  • Heat a gas grill to High/Medium/High
  • Wipe the grill with a paper towel soaked with oil (we use grape seed oil, which as a very high smoking point)
  •  Place the roast on the grill, close the lid. Set a timer for 9 minutes.
  • At the 9 minute mark, flip the meat.  Close the lid. Grill for another 9 minutes.
  • At the end of the second 9 minutes, check the temp.  You want to be at 115 to 125 degrees and the outside should have a nice charred crust.  
  • If you are not quite there, flip the roast and cook 3 minutes per each side. Check the temp.  You should be there. Do not over cook.  The end slices will be a bit more well-done and the center will be rare, but not raw. 
  • Remove the roast.  Tent LIGHTLY with foil and let the roast rest for 15 minutes.
  • Now you can slice – against the grain. 


Enjoy.








Saturday, October 22, 2011

Look Ma, No Bisquick! (Homemade Biscuits)

Warm from the oven - ready for
scrambled eggs and some
strawberry jam.

Two years into my reincarnation as a Southerner and I finally made my first batch of biscuits. 

From scratch.

This may not seem like a feat worth rejoicing, but those of you who know me well also know I don’t really bake. My mother didn’t bake all that often.  Neither did my father.  Thank goodness my brother married a wonderful woman who does – and I had to move 3,000 miles to get closer to her apple pies.  But now, by golly, I just may have found my inner Betty Crocker.
Miss Katie at
our Biscuit Class

Unlike the other recipes I blog, I didn’t create the one I’m sharing today. It came from the “Parent and Child Biscuits Class” I took with my niece Katie in June.  Needless to say, we had a blast.  I learned a lot.  

Today I walked an extra half hour (I now know what goes into a biscuit!) and then hit the kitchen to give it a go.  

The results were perfect!  Flaky and tender.  I can’t wait to make an herb variety with Katie for Thanksgiving dinner.  Until then, we’ve gonna have plenty of biscuits in the freezer, ready to heat up with coffee on a chilly Saturday morning.


Willard’s Biscuits (Courtesy of A Southern Season, Chapel Hill, NC)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups soft white flour (Southern Biscuit, LIly White or similar)I only had all-purpose and it came out fine, but would have been even better with the special lower gluten flour.
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons cold shortening, cubed (they explained in our class that for biscuits use Crisco or lard (I don’t think I can do the latter), for scones use butter)
  • I ½ cups cold buttermilk (This is worth keeping on hand.  It lasts forever and is a nice low fat alternative to cream when you want to thicken a sauce. Plus I actually like to drink it! Go figure.)


Method
  •  Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Sift dry ingredients
  • With a pastry blender, cut in cold shortening until coarse with a few lumps.
  • Stir in buttermilk with a spatula until a loose ball forms. Do not over-mix!!
  • Quickly turn onto a floured board and knead 4 turns.
  • Pat into a circle, ¾ inch thick and cut with a well-floured 2 1/2 sharp cutter.
  • Place close but not touching on a parchment-lined sheet pan (I was out of parchment, so I just sprayed lightly with Pam Spray
  • Bake for 15 minutes, turning half-way through baking.
  • Brush with soft butter and serve immediately

Enjoy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back Porch Evenings - (Deviled Eggs Two Ways)

What a great weekend.  Steve's playing in a tournament at Croasdaile, I did my part to stimulate the local economy and had fun Saturday exploring historic Hillsborough, and last night we kicked off a series of  “back porch” evenings that bring folks from our neighborhood together for beverages,  appetizers and a really good time.

The makin's for great deviled eggs:
farm fresh eggs, savory flavorings,
and my electric egg cooker. 
My contribution seemed to go over well – deviled eggs two ways.  But then, I don’t think I’ve ever met a person (especially of the male persuasion) who does not enjoy a good deviled egg. 

The inspiration for yesterday’s batch was a trip to Blue Sky Oil and Vinegar, a cute little shop that just celebrated one year of business bringing the best quality olive oils, infused oils and balsamic vinegars to the Chapel Hill area.  Blue Sky has a great jalapeño white balsamic vinegar and I’d heard that it is good in deviled eggs.  Based on the comments and empty egg pate last night, I think I heard right.

Since everyone can’t get their hands on jalapeño vinegar, I’m also sharing my normal everyday deviled egg recipe.  I took this one to the party last night as well, and it also received good reviews.  It’s a bit more savory that most DE recipes, and features celery seed (NOT celery salt) as a key ingredient.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Recipe #1 - Holly’s Basic Deviled Eggs:
Makes 12 pieces

Ingredients
  • 7 fresh eggs (I know, the recipe says it makes 12 and you are cooking 7 eggs.  Stick with me here)
  • 2 green onions – diced VERY fine
  • 1 ½ to 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (if you have small eggs opt for the lesser amount)
  • 1 ½ Tbs good mayonnaise (Helman’s, Best Foods – or if you are in the South, Dukes)
  • A good pinch of Kosher salt and 5 or 6 grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed (not celery salt)
  • 12 capers, for garnish (optional) – you can also dust with a little bit of paprika for a more traditional look.


Recipe #2 Holly’s Essence of Jalapeño Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:
  • Same as the basic ingredients, but substitute:
  • Blue Sky Jalapeño White Balsamic Vinegar rather than apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh seeded jalapeños for the celery seed
  • ¼ pickled jalapeños rather than capers for a first garnish
  • Add a very light dusting of chili powder as a second garnish


Method for either variety
Note About Cooking Eggs:  First off, if you don’t have an electric egg cooker  - buy one.  They are CHEAP and make perfect hard-boiled eggs without sticking. Worth the extra appliance.  My mother had one of these babies when we were growing up and I have had one since I move out on my own.  Frankly, I really don’t know how to boil an egg otherwise.
  • Hard boil and cool the eggs (drop them into a bowl of ice and cold water if you are in a hurry), slice them in half and separate the yolks into a bowl and set 12 of the 14 empties on a platter.  Toss the extra egg white, or feed it to the dog. The extra yolk will ensure that you don't have skimpy eggs.  
  • Using a fork, crumble the eggs into a fine texture
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and combine into a smooth mixture.  This may seem a bit drier than you are used to; but trust me – you really don’t want a gloppy egg. 
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, as you desire
  • Now using a teaspoon (or pastry bag, but that is just too much clean up for me) fill the egg whites
  • Add the garnish and chill until it’s time to serve

 Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

They Call Him “Mr Barbeque” for a Reason (Grilled Steakhouse Roast)




Summer is in full swing. It stays light until almost 9pm and it seems like something is on the calendar after work every night.  Pilates, golf clinics and Wednesday Happy Hour with the girls, for me.  Golf, golf and more golf for Steve.  And of course we have Friday nights on the Front Porch at the Carolina Inn

Somewhere in there, one must eat dinner – and neither of us are fans of mid-week restaurant dinners or take out.  Hence, we’ve taken to grilling a hunk of meat (pork loin, a whole chickens turkey breasts) on Mondays that can turn into salads or stir fries as we swing thru the house our way to or from our other activities later in the week. 

Tonight I had an after work cooking class with my niece (look for biscuit related posts in the future!) so Steve was left to his own devices with a cut of beef we’d never seen before – a Steakhouse Roast.  According to the butcher who turned us onto this one, a Steakhouse Roast is what they cut New York Strip Steaks from.  That’s all it took for me.

Here’s the method:
  • To make this little beauty, Steve simply marinated the entire piece of meant (about 2.5 pounds) in Worcestershire sauce for about 45 minutes. The he blotted it off and rubbed it with olive oil.
  • Next he liberally seasoned the meat with salt and pepper.
  • The off to the grill, which was fired up to around 350 degrees.
  • The butcher said to cook the beef for about 9 minutes per pound for rare, which is the way we like it AND a doneness that does well for beef that you will re-heat later in the week. (Unless you like jerky)
  • Steve seared the meat on all sides on high and then downshifted to medium-off-medium; laying the meat fat side up.  Then he closed the lid and let the magic begin.
  • The sizzling sounds of the meat cooking were so tempting, but we left the lid closed.
  • About 18 minutes later, we pulled the meat.  (You’re going for about 125 /130 degrees for rare/medium rare– it will continue to cook as it rests.).  Then we tented it loosely with foil as I sautéed up some zucchini.
  • We sliced a bit thicker than we'd normally slice a roast -- probably somewhere between a1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.

Un-be-frickin-leavable!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tour Guide (Two Peas in a Pod Risotto)




What a fun day I had yesterday! 

Tucked off the beaten path on Franklin
Street; Caffe Driad is a perfect
spot to meet friends on Saturday 
Earlier in the week received an email from a SoCal colleague, telling me that a friend of hers – also from Orange County, CA and also in marketing – had moved to Chapel Hill, and asking if I’d help show her around.  Silly question – of course, I would!  So yesterday morning I met Bev Day, a delightful SoCal transplant, at Caffé Driad; one of my favorite Chapel Hill coffee spots. 

Over cappuccino and pressed tea we chatted about the local area and our former homes.  Then off we went to the Carrboro Farmers Market to see what we could see.

The market was in full swing when we arrived. Things have really come into season over the past few weekends.  Our shopping bags filled as we continued to chat – fresh peas, greens, strawberries, leaks, onions and more.

After we left the market, I took Bev on a little tour of my end of town. What a fun day and what a nice new friend.  I look forward to future escapades as we continue to explore our new home. Who knows, maybe we will find the elusive amazing sushi restaurant we’ve both been hunting for!

Until then, it’s farmers market fare for Steve and me.  Tonight I’m making Two Peas in a Pod Rissotto – I hope you give it a try.

And welcome to what The Southern Part of Heaven, Bev.  It was great to meet you.

Two Peas in a Pod Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 cup  Aborio rice
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs butter, divided in half
  • 1/3 cup fresh peas (or you could use thawed frozen ones)
  • ¼ cup sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal into ¾ inch pieces; plus about a tablespoon or so more for garnish
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus a bit more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper


Method

Prepare the stock
Heat chicken stock over medium heat until just boiling and then decrease heat to Low.

Prepare the risotto:
  • Over medium heat in a large sauce pan melt 1 T of the butter and all of the olive oil
  • Sauté onion until translucent
  • Add rice and stir until coated
  • Add wine and stir until absorbed
  • Add hot chicken stock mixture in ½ cup increments, stirring until absorbed and then adding more; it is ready to add more when a spoon dragged thru the mixture creates a “canyon.” 
  • After about 10 minutes add both types of peas and continue adding broth as above
  • After about 10 more minutes the rice will be tender, but still firm or “al dente.” (taste a few grains to check) At this point, add the rest of the stock and stir until it has almost absorbed it all.
  • Now, add the remaining Tbs of  butter, and the parmesan cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:
  • Sprinkle with additional black pepper, parmesan cheese and some chopped up sugar snap peas for crunch.


Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter! (Ed’s Grilled Leg of Lamb)



Ready for a glass
of wine and family
It is warm, sunny and a tad humid today; and the backyard is leafed out and perfect for a late afternoon family get together.  Steve and I just finished preparing the deck and screen porch (i.e. blow off and hose off yet another layer of pollen!) for the sitting and chatting that will take place before and after the dinner of grilled leg of lamb my brother Ed and I are making for Easter Dinner.
The inside table is ready, too.

Ed makes a fantastic leg of lamb – boned and butterflied; then marinated overnight in wine, Worcestershire, garlic and rosemary.  I’ll provide that recipe now.  Later on I’ll share the recipe for the salad that will precede the lamb – featuring grapefruit and avocado salad with a vinaigrette made from blood-orange infused olive oil.


Ed’s Grilled Leg of Lamb
Measurements are proportions, not exact.

You will need: 
  • One leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
  • A big bunch of rosemary
  • Garlic. Lots of garlic.
  • An onion, optional
  • One lemon
  • Worchestershire sauce
  • A quarter to a half a bottle of red wine. Use what you like to drink; cuz that's what you'll do with the rest of the wine while you grill the lamb.
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper


Bah Bah Marinade
Combine in an extra large plastic bag or 13” x 9” baking dish
  • 2/3 red wine
  • Other 1/3 equal parts (or use your own judgment, I don't measure: olive oil and Worcestershire sauce)
  • About 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • A handful of chopped rosemary (good amount)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Prep the lamb -- do this the night before if possible
  • To the marinade mixture above, add  1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied. It may come tied up like a roast.  If so, snip and remove the strings.
  •  Marinade the meat overnight in plastic bag; rotate when you get up in the morning and every now and then throughout the day.
  • About 30 minutes before you plan to grill the meat, pull it from the marinade,  blot it dry and let it loose some of the chill from the fridge.  At this time you can also poke holes in the meat and shove slivers of garlic and/or onion in.  I highly recommend this, but it is not mandatory.
  • It’s also good to run metal skewers through the meat in a criss-cross fashion to hold the meat out flat. Again, not mandatory – don’t let a lack of skewers keep you from doing the dish.


Grill time
  • Heat a gas grill, all burners on high until screaming hot.  Sear the lamb, fat side down; then flip and sear the other side. Then lower the heat to Medium Off Medium.  Top with rosemary sprigs for added flavor and grill indirect method, until the meat is done to medium rare. 
  • I’m hesitant to offer specific times, because each piece of meat is different (depending on how thick, and how many pounds the roast is, etc.).  I’ve seen anywhere from 30 minutes total to 40 minutes or even an hour. Just remember, that the meat will continue to cook on the plate as it rests.  And nothing is worst than overcooked lamb!
  • For my money, I remove from the grill when an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 130°F (for medium rare).  Then tent loosely with foil and let the meat rest at least 10 minutes. 

 Time to serve
Our game plan for tonight is let it rest during the salad course.  Then I’ll steam some asparagus and carrots and finish up the parsley potatoes while Steve carves the lamb. 


Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weeknight evening with friends (Crostini with Warm Tomato Compote)

There was a time when I never would have had folks over for dinner on a work night. But one gets older, stops striving for perfection and soon finds that there’s no time like the present when good friends are involved.

Hyco Lake, North Carolina
It was in this spirit that we had two of our favorite new friends over for dinner the other night. Rusty and Debi live out at Hyco Lake and we’ve had many fun times at their home.  It was good to be able to return a little hospitality and share some good times on our turf.

I literally threw the meal together while they sat at the counter that separates the family room from the kitchen. We’d all had long days and it was good to chat and sip a glass of wine while I chopped and sautéed to my heart’s content. To get things started I tried out an appetizer I’ve been making lately – and it got rave reviews.  You probably have all the ingredients in the house – I hope you give it a try.

Crostini with Warm Tomato Compote
Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 4-6 slices of crusty bread, cut half or quarters (depending on the size of the slices) and brushed with olive oil – I used a whole wheat sour dough from Box Turtle Breads, one of our local artisanal bakeries
  • 1 Tbs good olive oil – I’m in to Spanish olive oil these days, very mild and tasty
  • 10 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs, or herbs d’ Province
  • Good Parmesan cheese, shaved off into pieces with a vegetable peeler (or you could use shredded cheese if you don’t have a whole block of the good stuff)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 or so grinds of black pepper


Method
Over a low flame in a small to medium sized sauce pan:
  • Warm the oil and the garlic for about 3 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes, cut side down
  • Sprinkle the salt, pepper and herbs over the mixture
  • Cook for about 10 minutes, squishing down the tomatoes gently as they become soft.  You want them to become almost jam-like, but stay intact.

  • While the tomatoes are cooking, heat a grill pan until it is screaming hot and grill the bread.  Dry side first, oiled side last, until you have nice grill marks. 
  • Remove and pile on a platter. 
  • Next to the bread, pile up the shavings of Parmesan cheese

 Time to assemble
  • When the tomatoes are warm and fragrant, put them in a small bowl and serve with the bread and cheese. 
  • Have your guests put a tomato half or two on the grilled bread and then top with a shard of the cheese. 


Enjoy.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bring on the Good Weather, Fire up the Grill (Some Like ‘em Hot Fish Tacos – with Salsa Blanca)


One thing that you learn when you live where there are seasons and weather – never take a good grilling day for granted.  We’ve been having a few more of these days lately, as the days grow longer and the winter chill subsides.  And I can think of no better way to celebrate those days than to fire up the grill and make my (award-winning) fish tacos.

Yep, these babies won me a shiny new gas grill in a cooking contest back in the late 80s.  Actually, I took the cash, but it was the first time I actually documented a recipe and had the chutzpa to share it.  And I won!  Woo hoo!
Mahi mahi headed for the grill

I made up a batch a few weeks ago and the fixin’s were so pretty I posted the pre-grillin’ photo on Facebook.  Next thing I knew I had request after request for the recipe.  Sorry for the delay, Friends, but I no longer have the original print-out of the recipe – tonight was truly the first chance I’ve had to jot it down.

Enjoy.

Some Like ‘em Hot Fish Tacos – with Salsa Blanca
Serves 4

The fish
Four portions of fresh firm fleshed fish, like mahi mahi or bass.  I’m not a fan of frozen fish, but it can work in a pinch. But you’re much better of going to the fish market or Whole Foods and getting some fresh fish, preferably from local waters.

For the Rub
  • 2 small or 1 large clove of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 ½  tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin, crushed in the palm of your hands
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil to coat the fish
  • Juice of a lime


Condiments:
  • Queso fresco  (crumbled) or jack cheese (shredded)
  • Chopped green onions
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Salsa Blanca (recipe follows)
  • Lime wedges
  • Corn Tortillas – 2 – 3 per person


Salsa Blanca
  • 1 small container of low fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2  cup of salsa (any type will do, we like the dark roasted pepper kind)
  • Juice of 1 lime

Mix it all up. Oh yeah.

Method
  • Mix all of the dry ingredients to make a rub and sprinkle it all over the fish.  Pat it in.
  • Squeeze the lime juice over the fish
  • Now drizzle some olive oil on the fish and rub it all in.
  • Let this sit for 15 – 20 minutes
  • Fire up the grill so that it is screaming hot.  Then back it off to medium-off-medium
  • Grill the fish until it is firm to the touch; it should be flakey not dried out.
  • Take the fish off and let it rest, covered lightly with foil, for 5 – 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, toss the tortillas on the grill to warm them.  Cover them with foil to keep them warm.


Assembling the tacos
  • If you are using mahi mahi and there is a dark portion running thru it, cut that nasty stuff out!
  • Break the fish into bit sized pieces.  You can toss with some of the cilantro and chopped onion, but that is not mandatory.
  • Put some of the fish and whatever condiments you like into a warm tortilla. 


Enjoy!



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bizzy Bizzy Bizzy (Perfect Parsleyed Potatoes

It's event and big project time again and I’ve been really really busy – not much time for cooking, blogging or blogging about cooking.  But tonight I made a side dish that was so good, I had to jot it down to share with y’all.
At the Farmers Market or the grocery store,
North Carolina Potatoes are hard to beat

Most people don’t know it, but North Carolina is home to some mighty fine potatoes.  I love getting them from the Farmers Market, but our local grocery story has a “local” section so we can get them pretty much any time we want.  Tiny and tasty they are the perfect spud.

We’ve been having these tasty taters lately simply boiled and tossed in garlicky butter and parsley. They are a snap to make any old weeknight, but good enough to serve for company.  Give ‘em a try, they won’t disappoint.


Perfect Parslied Potatoes
Serves two with a tad bit of leftovers – do the math to make for a larger crowd

Ingredients
  • 6 tiny white or red “new” potatoes, cut in half
  • Plenty of Kosher salt for the water
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • salt and pepper to taste


Method
  • Put the potatoes and the garlic in a medium sauce pan, cover with water and add a Tablespoon or so of Kosher slat. Cover and bring to a boil over a high flame.
  • Once the water comes to a boil, remove the lid, lower the heat to medium and cook until fork tender (abut 7 minutes or so)
  • While the potatoes are cooking, put the butter into a microwave safe bowl, and heat for 30 seconds to melt.  Add a pinch of salt and  a grind of pepper.
  • When the potatoes are done,  turn off the heat, remove garlic and smush it into a paste with a knife.  Then add the garlic to the melted butter and combine.
  • Now, remove the potatoes from the pot of water with a slotted spoon and drop them into the butter, garlic mixture.  Toss to coat. 
  • Now add the chopped parsley toss to combine. 


Serve immediately, or cover the bowl with foil to keep warm until the rest of the meal is ready to serve.

Enjoy!



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl! (Mom's chili and beans)

I love it when Will calls and asks for a recipe so he can cook for his friends. 


I just hung up from just that kind of call -- he's having friends over for chili and elk burgers (remember, he goes to school in Montana and now has a freezer full of venison, elk and moose) and needed me to email him the ingredient list for "Mom's Chili."  We couldn't believe that this recipe hadn't been blogged yet -- I sent it to him his freshman year, with a box full of canned goods and spices. 


Steve & I wish we could join the boys for the game, but at least we know how the chili will taste.... delish!



Mom’s Chili with Beans

This is one those recipes that is not exact.  OK you know the drill. You will have to taste as you go and adjust. Here’s what you need:

The fresh stuff:
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef (elk and venison work well, too)
  • 1 onion - chopped up
  • 2 - 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • XLNT tamale (usually in the deli section of the grocery store) - if you can’t find this, packaged polenta will also work - the polenta comes in a tube and may be in the refrigerated section or where the rice or pasta is. The masa will be in the Mexican section, cuz it's what you use to make tamales and tortillas. Find a nice lady and ask (-; 

The canned stuff
  • Big can of crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes that you squish up)
  • Large can of dark red kidney beans
  • Medium can of diced tomatoes
  • Small can of tomato paste
  • Small can of Ortega diced chilies
  • Can of beef broth
  • Bottle of beer (optional)

The herbs and spices
  • Cumin - I prefer the seeds
  • Chili powder
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper


The Method:
Over a medium to low flame
  • Brown the beef, drain the fat and remove the beef to a bowl or plate
  • Add the onions and sauté until translucent
  • Add the garlic - sauté  - be careful, don’t burn it!


Next
  • Add 1/2 of the can of tomato paste - sauté it until it looks like it has developed a bit of color
  • Add palm full of chili powder
  • Add about a fourth to half palm of the cumin - go easy on this. Crush it in your hands by rubbing it together then toss in
  • Add about a fourth palm of oregano - crushed in your hands the same way
  • Add the beef back in and sauté it all together


Now, add the cans of crushed and diced tomatoes as well as the big ol' can of kidney beans, and stir this well. 
  • Add some salt and pepper to taste
  • At this point you’ll want to add about 1/2 can of beef broth; stir it well. This is also when you make the judgment call about the beer. It’s nice to add if you will have time to let it cook down. If you don’t have that kind of time add the rest of the beef broth.


Lower the heat and let this simmer for 45 minutes or so. Stir it now and then.


At about the 30 to 45 minute mark I like to add the tamale (or polenta or masa) if you have them. They are not mandatory, but they thicken it up and make it really good.
  •  To add the tamale/polenta/masa you will need to smush them up with some of the reserved broth or a little water. You need to get it to a stage where you can mix it into the chili as a thickening agent. Not super thin, but stir-able.


Cook the final mix for another 15 to 20 minutes. It can go longer, but keep an eye on it. Burnt chili is nasty.
---------------------
Serve with cheese and onions

(Another way to stretch this for a crowd is to add a can of black beans and/or a can of corn)