Wednesday, August 12, 2015

West Virginia Style Hot Dog Sauce

West Virginia, for those who've never been, is just as the song advertises. Entering West Virginia from Kentucky will see you moving from rolling hills into sharper inclines until finally, you can drive into hills so steep that the road cut might not see daylight until the sun is directly overhead.

My parents grew up in West Virginia.  My grandparents were lifelong residents.  I spent countless summer days visiting family in West Virginia.  I even lived there for a very short while before graduating from Marshall University (We are Marshall!).  It is, more so than Kentucky, the place I think of as "home".

But West Virginia is more than rolling hills and hillbilly accents.  It actually has a unique culinary tradition.  And among the things that West Virginia is famous for are her hot dogs.  West Virginia style hot dogs are always all-beef dogs.  They differ from hot dogs further south and to the northeast.  West Virginia lies above the "slaw line".   That is that hot dogs, and more often than not, pork bbq sandwiches are topped with a generous helping of mayonnaise-based cole slaw.

In my opinion, the only way to truly enjoy a hot dog is to prepare it boiled, in a steamed bun, with mustard, finely diced onions, a heaping helping of hot dog sauce and topped with a creamy slathering of cole slaw.

The hot dog sauce I remember from my youth can't be purchased at the grocery.  It is not chili sauce (even though it does have chili powder in it).  It does not have beans.  There are canned varieties--which are NOT the same--but after the Castleberry botulism debacle of 2007, I don't know of anyone who will try them.  West Virignia-style sauce is a mild, tomato based meat sauce, and you can find numerous awesome classic examples from Fairmont to Huntington.  I admit that some of my favorites are Stewart's Original Hot Dogs in Huntington, WV, and Sam's Hot Dogs in many locations throughout the Tri-State region.  This hot dog tradition even trickles into eastern Kentucky where you can find numerous worthwhile examples such as Crisp's Dairy Treat and the now out-of-business Dairy Cheer (Home of the Smashburger).

No one should die without trying a West Virignia hot dog.  So if you can't travel there, make your own at home.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, fine dice
2.5 lbs ground beef
0.25 lbs ground pork
1 box of beef broth
1.5 t black pepper
1.5 t salt
1.5 t chili powder
2 T crushed red chili pepper (medium hot)
16 oz. tomato sauce
7 oz. tomato ketchup
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/4 t cumin
Tabasco sauce to taste (I use about 12 shakes)

Directions:

In a dutch oven, saute the onion in the olive oil until tender but not browned.  Crumble the ground beef and pork and add to the pot.   Cover with beef broth and cook for 1 hour, uncovered, adding water if necessary.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook, covered, over low heat, just simmering, for two more hours.  If you wish a thinner sauce, add more water half way through the final two hours.  For thick sauce, cook down, uncovered for a while longer.

This recipe makes an entire dutch oven full of sauce.  It can be scaled down, but keep in mind, it freezes well and you are going to want this again.



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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jerk Chicken Chili

Can we just agree that nothing beats chili on a cold day?  Nothing warms the soul like a smooth chili with bite.  Over the past decade, I've fallen in love with chicken and pork based stews.  This is one of my favorites.  This is definitely a winner.  Without further ado, I present my Jerk Chicken Chili.


Ingredients:

1 t olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 T chili powder
1.5 t thyme
1 t cinnamon
0.5 t ground allspice
1 large roasted chicken, meat removed and shredded (about 6 cups)
4 c chicken stock
14 oz. diced tomatoes
15 ox. black beans, undrained or only partially drained
15 oz. Cannelli (or other white) beans, undrained or only partially drained
1 roasted jalapeno
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1 oz semisweet chocolate
2 T cornmeal or masa 

Directions:

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, thyme, cinnamon, and allspice.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add shredded chicen and stir to coat with spices.  Add stock, tomatoes, beans, and jalapenos.  Bring to a boil.  Cover partially and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 20 minutes.
Add garlic, cilantro, chocolate, and cornmeal or masa.   Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir well.  Serve.

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Chili Verde (Chicken or Pork)

Fall is upon us and it will soon be soup and stew season.  If you are like me and a fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, you will really enjoy this recipe.  As for me, I'm in love with New Mexico chilis.  I'm always searching for new and exciting recipes that will allow me to make use these gems of the Southwest.  This traditional chicken stew inspires dreams of Southwest travel.  It makes generous use of lean chicken, tomatoes, tomatillos, onions and garlic.  Not spicy.  Not hot.  Just full of great flavor.  It is packed with protein, incredibly flavorful and only 2 Weight Watchers Smart Points per serving!   It can be made on the stovetop or in a crock pot.

Just a tip, I make this for all my Super Bowl parties.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
1.5 pounds cubed pork stew meat or chicken (I use boneless skinless chicken breasts)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped, roasted New Mexico chiles
1.4 oz fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
1.5 c tomatillo salsa (you can buy store bought or make your own below)
2 c chicken broth
0.5 t dried oregano
pinch ground cloves

Tomatillo salsa:
8 large tomatillos, husk removed, cored
4 garlic cloves
2 c water
2 roasted jalapenos, skins removed

Place in blender and puree.  Use as tomatillo salsa above.  This will make more than called for.  If your pot will allow it, use it all.


Directions:

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the pork or chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place into the hot oil.  Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes.  Once browned, remove the meat and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium, and add the onions.  Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot, add the garlic and green chiles, diced tomatoes and juice, tomatillo salsa, and chicken broth.  Season with oregano and clove.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

With a hand-held blender, blend a small amount of the soup until smooth.  You don't want to blend all of the vegetables; just enough until the soup is somewhat thickened.  To further thicken the soup, add up to one tablespoon cornmeal or masa .  Continue to simmer at least 35 minutes more.  Remove the chicken and shred, then return to the pot.  Eat with corn tortillas.  These are amazing!

This can also be made in the crockpot.  When I do so, I omit the oil, and I don't pre-cook the onions or meat.  I throw everything else as described in the crock pot and cook it on high for 4 hours or on medium/low for 6 hours.


Chili Verde (Chicken or Pork)

Fall is upon us and it will soon be soup and stew season.  If you are like me and a fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, you will really enjoy this recipe.  As for me, I'm in love with New Mexico chilis.  I'm always searching for new and exciting recipes that will allow me to make use these gems of the Southwest.  This traditional chicken stew inspires dreams of Southwest travel.  It makes generous use of lean chicken, tomatoes, tomatillos, onions and garlic.  Not spicy.  Not hot.  Just full of great flavor.  It is packed with protein, incredibly flavorful and only 2 Weight Watchers Smart Points per serving!   It can be made on the stovetop or in a crock pot.

Just a tip, I make this for all my Super Bowl parties.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
1.5 pounds cubed pork stew meat or chicken (I use boneless skinless chicken breasts)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped, roasted New Mexico chiles
1.4 oz fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
1.5 c tomatillo salsa (you can buy store bought or make your own below)
2 c chicken broth
0.5 t dried oregano
pinch ground cloves

Tomatillo salsa:
8 large tomatillos, husk removed, cored
4 garlic cloves
2 c water
2 roasted jalapenos, skins removed

Place in blender and puree.  Use as tomatillo salsa above.  This will make more than called for.  If your pot will allow it, use it all.


Directions:

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the pork or chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place into the hot oil.  Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes.  Once browned, remove the meat and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium, and add the onions.  Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot, add the garlic and green chiles, diced tomatoes and juice, tomatillo salsa, and chicken broth.  Season with oregano and clove.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

With a hand-held blender, blend a small amount of the soup until smooth.  You don't want to blend all of the vegetables; just enough until the soup is somewhat thickened.  To further thicken the soup, add up to one tablespoon cornmeal or masa .  Continue to simmer at least 35 minutes more.  Remove the chicken and shred, then return to the pot.  Eat with corn tortillas.  These are amazing!

This can also be made in the crockpot.  When I do so, I omit the oil, and I don't pre-cook the onions or meat.  I throw everything else as described in the crock pot and cook it on high for 4 hours or on medium/low for 6 hours.

Easy Bolognese Sauce

I love me some red meat sauce.  My ex's aunt used to make the best marinara I've ever tasted. Claimed she only used pork bones, tomatoes, tomato sauce and garlic salt.  I don't believe her.  But if I ever figure out what she did, I'm sharing it.  In any event, I combined a couple of recipes from Allrecipes.com into my own version of Bolognese (pronounced BOLO-NAZY) sauce.  It is rich, with depth of flavor, and some serious comfort food.

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon, chopped
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 onion, small dice
3 carrots, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 lb. lean ground beef
0.5 lb. ground pork
1.5 t salt
1 t dried basil, or 3-5 whole fresh basil leaves
1 t oregano
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1.5 C milk (2%)
2 C white wine
28 oz. peeled plum tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
8 oz tomato sauce (optional)

Directions:

Put chopped bacon and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium low heat.  Cook until bacon is crisp.  Melt butter.  Add onion, carrot, and celery until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef and pork and spices.  When meat is browned completely, drain most of the fat off.  Return to pan and add milk.  Simmer milk until it is almost completely reduced.  Please don't allow that milk to burn!  When milk is reduced, add white wine.  Allow it to nearly completely reduce as well.  While you are waiting on the wine to reduce, put the San Marzano tomatoes in a bowl and break them apart with your hands.  When the wine has reduced, add the crushed plum tomatoes and tomato sauce (optional) to the pan.  Bring to a very low simmer and allow to remain that way for 4-6 hours. Make sure you don't have the heat up too high.   It should barely be bubbling.  Even then, keep an eye on it.  If your pan gets too dry, add water.  The longer you cook this, the better.

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