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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

White Chicken Chili

Ok, before I begin with the recipe, I must mention one of my two faithful readers who informed me real chili is not cooked with beans or onion.  This reader also confessed to not eating food beginning with the letter B, such as beans, bread, boa constrictors, or black-footed ferrets.

In the effort to be all things to all people, I declare and proclaim that in the heart of the matter, my faithful reader is correct.  According to my copy of Texas the Beautiful Cookbook, real chili, which can only mean Texas Chili, is not cooked with beans or onions. Those are added later by fearless iconoclasts who don’t care what people think and are willing to accept spiteful scorn.

HUGE HINT: You can make this chili using just the chicken and seasonings and chicken broth.  I promise it will taste good.  In the event it does not taste good, I will send you the name and address of the person on whom your righteous wrath should descend.  

If you’re giving up the beans and onion, but still need a little more sustenance in your chili, add some hominy. Not grits.  If you can’t stand the milk or cream the recipe calls for, don’t add it.

For normal people, and by that I mean people like yours truly, who are either trustworthy, brave, honest, or decent – pick any one -, I offer this White Chicken Chili recipe.

White Chicken Chili

1 Tablespoon olive oil, either virgin, extra virgin, or well used, but still cute, cuddly and warm olive oil.
½ Onion, diced
½ Jalapeño, diced, or to taste
1½ Pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Clove of garlic, minced
3 Teaspoons (or more) chili powder
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
1 Teaspoon smoked paprika
4 Tablespoons Masa
1¼ Teaspoons salt
¼ Teaspoon or more, Cayenne pepper
1½ Cups frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
2 15oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
4 Cups chicken broth
¼ Cup heavy cream or half and half or whole milk

For garnish:  chopped cilantro, grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado

To accompany:  freshly fried corn tortilla chips:  Cut up packaged corn tortillas, fry them in oil at 350ºF, drain them on a paper towel and add salt.

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil, then add the onion and jalapeños and cook until the onion is wilted. 

Add the chicken and cook until it is cooked through.

Add the garlic and spices and mix until the chicken is coated.

Add the corn, beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

Use a dough cutter or the back of a wide spoon to smash some of the beans to make a thicker chili.  Mix in the cream or milk.

Before you serve the chili, don’t forget the garnish!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Salmon Chowder: Warms Winter’s Frosty Breath

I love chowders and soups and stews in the winter and most are just fine, but every now and again you stumble across something deliciously exceptional. 

No, I’m not talking about the rich and gorgeous beauty you met just two weeks after you married your wife.  That was just a shot in the dark and one quickly forgotten, until two weeks after that when another….but let’s stick to chowder. And for goodness sakes don’t worry.  As long as the payments keep coming your secret’s safe with me.

See, this chowder IS something exceptional you CAN share with the woman who wears your ring and is quick to keep you intellectually honest by continually pointing out an opposing point of view.

Ok, so let’s pour a huge glass of white wine and get cooking!  Ok, I’ll be honest. A big snifter of Armagnac.

Salmon Chowder

Remember, all recipes are only a starting point.  One person’s preference.  A cook never hesitates to veer in subtle or obvious ways.  Be BOLD!

½ a roasted, skinned and diced red bell pepper
½ pound potatoes cut into 1inch cubes
1 cup or more sliced mushrooms
½ cup diced onion
½ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ¼ inch wide strips
2 or more cups leeks thin sliced, white and pale green parts only
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup shredded carrots
1 heaping teaspoon herbs de Provence
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups whole milk
2¼ cups heavy cream
1½ pounds of fresh caught salmon, skin removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Before serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh chives for garnish

The Process

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon in a five-quart heavy pot until crisp. Remove the bacon and add onion, corn, and herbs de Provence to the pot.  Stir for about five minutes, or until onions are wilted.

Add milk and cream and bring to a very light simmer.  Immediately reduce heat and add salmon, bacon, salt, pepper and cook until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up, about five to eight minutes.

I like my chowder pretty thick. Too thick for you?  Add a little more cream, or some chicken broth.

Your wife will love you and forgive all sins…..hahaha, just kidding. Wives don’t forgive.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fratello's Italian Tavern, North Charleston, SC

Today your very friendly blogger is here to tell you about a fab Italian spot in North Charleston, Fratello’s Italian Tavern. 

Super lunch spot, but first a word about my fascinating childhood, when I learned all Italian food comes from a can via the capable hands of Chef Boyardee.

Know all about that brand?  ‘Course not.  As usual you need my help. “Hector Boyardee" was an Italian immigrant who founded the company in 1928, in Cleveland and chose the name to make it easy for Americans to pronounce his real name, Ettore Boiardi (October 22, 1897 – June 21, 1985).

Throughout my fascinating childhood, if you wanted spaghetti, you reached for a can opener. Then at the age of twenty-five, I moved to the wonder that is Europe, and friends introduced me to Northern Italian cuisine.  Oh, the wonder of calamari, mussels and clams in butter wine sauce, veal in a luscious mustard cream, baked cannelloni smothered in creamy goodness, and spaghetti Carbonara, Came as a great revelation to find Chef B was not the only chef in Italy, and all Italian food isn’t sloshed in tomato sauce.  Especially in Northern Italy, where cream sauce is the king. 

Other fav memories were the small outdoor courtyards, where pizzas were hand thrown and tossed into a wood fired oven until they had charred edges.

The point I’m making is I know Italian food.  Matter of fact, even though I have often said the French can teach anyone how to eat, I must make an exception for Italians. Those happy, hearty souls can lay some fine grits on the table.

But, I didn’t expect to find a jewel of Italian cuisine in North Charleston.  Nothing wrong with North Charleston, but South Carolina is BBQ and seafood country.

Fratello’s Italian Tavern is aptly named.  Take your lunch outside under an awning, while you munch some fresh Italian bread and sip an aperitif, or go inside and feel as if you just arrived in Italy.  I love the décor, featuring a long mahogany bar at the rear of the restaurant, oversized Italian posters, and dark cream-colored walls, edged with red brick.

I felt comfortable and I wanted to stay awhile.  No problem. The wait staff isn’t the least bit pushy. My companion and I ordered drinks and a dish of Bamberi to pass the time while we chatted and lingered over the delightful menu.

Wait until your waiter brings you some Prosecco and a bowl of Bamberi, sautéed shrimp in a white wine, garlic, lemon, and butter sauce!

I ordered Insalata Fratello, featuring roasted and grilled vegetables over baby greens, lashed with a light orange vinaigrette. My companion went with a Caesar Insalata with a house made dressing and loaded with tender strips of grilled chicken.  Don’t like those?  Pity.  But, being your friend, helpmate, and culinary advisor, I’ve included a link (below) to the full menu.

Insalada del Fratello

Didn’t go to Fratello’s Italian Tavern for supper, or cocktail hour, but lunch was so good, you wouldn't have to ask me twice.
  Matter of fact, I’ll ask you.  Wanna go for a drink or two and some of the finest Italian food in the greater Charleston area?  Yep, thought you might say yes.  And don’t hold back.  Invite the whole gaggle of your so-called friends and we’ll make it a party.  No can openers required.

1050 E Montague Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405