Chili Con Carne

OK. You and your friends are gathered around the TV riveted on the Super Bowl. Chips and salsa have been passed about, but now it’s half time and the call is for something more stick-to-your ribs satisfying. Chili!


1 T cumin seeds

2 medium (roughly 3 by 5 inches) chiles ancho

2 T pure chile powder

2 t ground Mexican oregano

4 strips applewood smoked bacon

2 ½ lbs. well marbled beef chuck cut into ½ inch cubes


1 medium white onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 14-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes (preferable D.O.P.)**

1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

1 t sugar

1 t masa harina

1 14-oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


1. Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool. Pulverize in a small grinder (such as a coffee grinder used only for spices).*

2. In the same skillet, toast chiles ancho until crisp. Turn over but be careful not to burn. Tear into pieces. discarding stem and seeds, and place in a bowl. Cover with 2 ½ cups hot water. Set aside.

3. Mix chile powder and oregano together. Add enough water to form a light paste. Set aside.

4. Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Pour bacon fat in a separate container and set aside. When bacon cools, crumble it into small pieces and set aside.

5. Increase heat to medium high and add one tablespoon bacon fat back into pan. Work in batches to brown the beef. Don’t crowd or you will steam the beef. Brown on all sides and lightly salt as you cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

6. Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to pan. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add chile and oregano paste and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Put onions and garlic, beef, bacon and tomatoes (breaking them up with your fingers) into a 6-quart Dutch oven.

8. Pulse ancho chile water in a food processor a few times. (There will still be pieces of chile in the liquid.) Strain into pot and add lime juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 ½ hours. Then uncover and maintain a bare simmer for another half hour.

9. Mix the masa harina in a small amount of water to make a slurry. Stir into the chili to thicken it. Mix in the kidney beans. Add salt and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with any or all of the following garnishes on the side:

grated sharp cheddar

chopped red onion

sour cream

sliced scallions

diced fresh tomatoes

chopped fresh cilantro

*Ground cumin comes in a spice bottle, of course, but if you toast and grind your own, you will be transported to spice heaven by the aroma and fresh taste.

**D.O.P. refers to tomatoes that have been processed in the same place they were grown.

Chili Melts the Chill

by Victor Ribaudo

How many different chili recipes have you encountered in your food journeys? If you’re anything like me, then the number is staggering. I mean, almost everyone I know has his or her own proprietary version of this comfort food classic. Restaurants, too. Not surprising, either. As with so many American standards, this favorite is flexible. So many flavoring options and tons of opportunities for placing a personalized stamp on the dish. I think that’s what I like so much about it.

So where does chili come from? I’ve read lots of stories, none of which can be substantiated. I’ve heard say that it is a Mexican dish. I really do doubt that, since you don’t find it in Mexico, except in establishments near the border catering to American tourists. However, I can’t help but believe that the creation of chili was highly influenced by Mexican cuisine. Many of the same spices. Most do agree though that the first chili was concocted in the Southwest. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I love chili. I’ve found that there are nights when nothing else will do. Warm and filling and really intense in flavor. One of my fondest memories includes chili. It was at a winter resort. The day was a single digit one, and we were frolicking in the snow doing all sorts of fun things. At about 4:00 pm, I found myself famished. We had a late breakfast and skipped lunch. So we headed for a cozy eatery and found chili on the menu. I tell you, it just hit the spot so beautifully that it was the highlight of my day. Can’t get enough of it ever since.

So, in the mood for simmering a big old pot of chili? There’s nothing quite like it on a cold and wintry day. One of the first things you need to decide when embarking on chili cuisine is whether or not to bean it. Texans will fall on a sword before they’d add beans to their recipes. All meat for them. Others will omit the meat altogether, vegetarians or not. You should also think about the level of heat you want to infuse into your chili. I’ve found that most go easy on the spice. Some, however, are so heavy handed that you don’t taste a thing because your mouth is afire. You know, the Five Alarm Chili crew. Really, it’s a matter of taste. I prefer a blend of beans and meat, whether it’s beef, turkey or chicken. More hearty and interesting to me, with contrasting textures and all. As for heat, I’m all for a moderately intense kick.

The next thing to do is to get your hands on a fantastic recipe. And they do abound via cookbooks and online. But why leave it up to chance? If you haven’t guessed by now, Phyllis Kirigan wins my affection through my taste buds all the time. So I highly recommend her recipe. I promise, you’ll love it.

It’s funny how some foods just have to be included in certain occasions and events. Chili is one of those. I mention this because Game Day is soon approaching. In my home, we refuse to enjoy football unless there is chili in the offing. I like to serve it with the usual suspects – chopped onion, cheese and sour cream accompaniments. I always have cooked rice available as well. One thing I’ll never do is ladle it over pasta. I know, lots of people like it. But I’m Italian, and my mother would kill me if I did!

I also adore chili leftovers. The flavors really meld and marry in the fridge overnight. And I find that you can do lots with it. Chili hot dogs are spectacular. Chili sitting next to my scrambled eggs is divine. Chili on a grilled chicken sandwich – amazing. Chili makes it better. Sounds like a tag line. I might use that sometime. In any event, I’m cooking up some of Phyllis’ chili tonight. If you care to join us, dinner is at seven.

Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin

Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo

Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Food Stylist Laurie Knoop

Courtesy of Heat Magazine
Blog syndicated at the


Chicken Francese

Chicken Francese, Food & Wine Section, DAting Symbol blog

If you think of chicken as bland, try this quick and flavorful preparation. Parmegiano- Reggiano, fresh parsley and lemon slices add an irresistible zest.


1 ½ lbs. chicken scaloppine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
4 T Parmigiano Reggiano
2 T finely minced fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup olive oil, more as needed
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups chicken stock
8 thin lemon slices, seeds removed
3 T butter


1. Place 2 pieces of scaloppine between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat pounder to 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Repeat with remainder of scaloppine.

2. Place the flour in a shallow plate.

3. Beat the eggs along with 1 T water, the cheese and parsley in a wide bowl.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

5. Dredge both sides of scaloppine in flour and then dip into egg mixture to coat completely, allowing the excess to drip off.

6. When the oil is hot, place two scaloppine at a time in skillet and fry until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Add a little more oil if necessary. Remove to a large platter and cover to keep warm.

7. Pour oil from skillet. Return the skillet to high heat and add wine. Reduce by half. Add chicken stock and lemon slices and boil for 5 minutes. Remove lemon slices and continue boiling the sauce until reduced by half.

8. Off heat, swirl butter into skillet until the sauce is thickened.
Add scaloppine, turning them until coated. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with lemon slices. Serve immediately.

Chicken Little . . . or a Lot

by Victor Ribaudo

Salad, Food & Wine section, Dating Symbol blog

Chicken Salad

OK, so the holidays are over. For me and my family, it was most
definitely an eating marathon. I’m sure it was for you as well.

Don’t know about you, but this time of year always puts me in a sort of quandary. I’m looking for ways to lighten my meals, and possibly take off some of the holiday pounds I accumulated along the way. But it’s kind of cold out there! That puts me in the mood for some good old fashioned comfort food as well. Not always light, but definitely warming to my body and soul. The answer? Moderation. And that’s when I turn to chicken.

Chicken, Food & Wine Section, DAting Symbol blog

Roast Chicken

Eating chicken is not a chore for me. I really like the way it tastes. So that makes it easier for me to enjoy this less caloric option – when choosing white meat breasts, anyway. And I find that substituting white chicken meat in hearty winter recipes that call for beef, pork or veal really does work for me. I can hardly tell the difference. But I get ahead of myself.

Honey Chicken, Food & Wine Section, Dating Symbol blog

Honey Glazed Chicken

When really sticking to the regimen, my quintessential diet meal inevitably involves grilled chicken breasts. I find all sorts of ways to make it interesting and delicious. Marinating, of course, is always key. And the possibilities are endless. Italian and Cajun are my preferred flavorings. Just a quick grilling or sautéing and I’m ready to place these juicy morsels over creatively constructed salads, stuffed into waist friendly wraps or diced into light pasta dishes.  Scrumptious.

Grilled Chicken, Food & Wine Section, Dating Symbol blog

Grilled Chicken

That being said, there really is nothing like a good old fashioned roast chicken. The aroma alone makes my mouth water, and warms even the chilliest and gloomiest days of winter for me. Everyone has their preference when it comes to roasting a chicken. Butter and herbs rubbed under the skin is definitely an option. When I’m keeping it light, I just stuff the cavity with some fresh herbs and a whole, peeled onion. As long as the skin is crispy, it’s always a winner in my home. (OK, the skin is a bit more fattening, but I’m only human after all!)

chicken chili. Food & Wine Section, DAting Symbol blog

Chicken Chili

So, what about substituting chicken for beef and other meats in those hefty recipes? Chili is a good place to start. Truly, it works perfectly. Just be sure to use the white meat if you’re really being strict. I also like a good chicken stew and much as its beef cousin.

I leave out the dumplings when the scale is tipping in the wrong direction for me that week. Still, it’s a satisfying meal. Chicken meatballs will often be featured in my tomato sauce as well. When using ground white meat, be sure to add some breadcrumb and egg whites to the mixture. This will keep the meatballs moist and delicious.

Chicken Parmigiana, Food & Wine Section, Dating Symbol blog

Chicken Parmesan

Now, I did mention moderation, didn’t I? After all, man and woman cannot live on carrot sticks alone. Especially when comfort foods are on the mind. So I’ll often treat myself to more elaborate preparations of chicken during the colder months. I look at it this way: there may be butter or oil in the recipe, but I’m still using chicken. Got to be lighter than pork sausage, right? Phyllis’ recipe for Chicken Francese is a good example of this. I’ll even go as far as to serve it with pasta. Hey, I’ve been pretty fastidious all month. I can allow myself a few carbs for good behavior.

Oh, one could write tomes on chicken. I won’t do that. Just seems like a good option for post holiday fare. You might even take off a few pounds. And that will be a feather in your cap!

Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Blog syndicated at the

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