Bobby Flay’s Perfect Beef Chili

Kate Krader wrote . . . . . .

Some dishes, such as massive seafood towers crowned with elaborate shellfish and seven-tiered weddings cakes, are best left to the professionals.

Chili is not one of those. Superior versions can come from anywhere, whether on the back of a five-alarm-chili kit or an uncle’s award-winning recipe jotted down on an envelope. It doesn’t benefit from fancy ingredients—in fact, it’s antithetical to try sourcing expensive aji charapita peppers ($25,000 per kilo) to make a pot of chili.

There is a professional chef who knows the secrets of a good chili: Bobby Flay. The chef/owner of Gato in New York and the star of Food Network shows like Worst Cooks in America, has been making chili most of his life. “I know it well,” Flay wrote in an email. “I’ve been cooking Southwestern food for over 30 years.”

The recipe he shared with us is stocked with chunks of tender beef and flavored with a rich sauce spiked with tomato, multiple chiles, and maple syrup, a surprise ingredient that adds a dark sweetness to the dish. After you inject some elbow grease at the beginning to chop the ingredients, it’s an easy dish to keep an eye on over the course of a couple of hours, though Flay prepares it only on special occasions. “I make it a couple times a year, on a big game day,” he confided.

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Read more . . . . .

The Recipe

Ultimate Beef and Black Bean Chili


Serves 4 to 6 people

3 tbsp canola oil
2-1/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, excess fat discarded
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded finely diced
1/4 cup favorite chili powder (or 3 tbsp ancho chili powder plus 1 tbsp pasilla chili powder and 1 tbsp ground cumin)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 qt chicken stock or canned low sodium broth
1 (16-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp chipotle pepper puree (from a can of chipotles)
3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 lime
Sour cream, ground cumin and cilantro leaves, for serving
Boiled rice, for serving

Heat the oil in a large casserole over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper; add half of the meat to the pan in an even layer and sauté over high heat until browned all over. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat; add more oil to the pot, if necessary.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until soft. Add the garlic and serrano chile, and stir for 1 minute. Add the chili powder and cinnamon, season with salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and cook until reduced by half.

Return the beef to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and maple syrup, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low, partially cover the pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/4 hours; occasionally skim off any fat.

Add the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the sour cream with a few large pinches of cumin and season with salt and pepper. Season the chili with salt and pepper and add the juice from the lime. Ladle the chili into bowls on top of rice, garnish with cilantro, and serve with a dollop of cumin sour cream.

Why Do Recipe Writers Lie about How Long It Takes to Caramelize Onions?

Tom Scocca wrote . . . . . .

Browning onions is a matter of patience. My own patience ran out earlier this year while leafing through the New York Times food section. There, in the newspaper of record, was a recipe for savory scones with onions, currants, and caraway. Though I wasn’t particularly interested in making savory scones, one passage caught my eye:

“Add the onions to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until they begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and a pinch of the fine sea salt; continue cooking until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes longer.”

Soft, dark brown onions in five minutes. That is a lie. Fully caramelized onions in five minutes more. Also a lie.

There is no other word for it. Onions do not caramelize in five or 10 minutes. They never have, they never will—yet recipe writers have never stopped pretending that they will. I went on Twitter and said so, rudely, using CAPS LOCK. A chorus of frustrated cooks responded in kind (“That’s on some bullshit. You want caramelized onions? Stir for 45 minutes”).

As long as I’ve been cooking, I’ve been reading various versions of this lie, over and over. Here’s Madhur Jaffrey, from her otherwise reliable Indian Cooking, explaining how to do the onions for rogan josh: “Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn a medium-brown colour.” The Boston Globe, on preparing pearl onions for coq au vin: “Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until golden.” The Washington Post, on potato-green bean soup: “Add the onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.”

If you added all those cooking times together end to end, you still wouldn’t have caramelized onions. Here, telling the truth about how to prepare onions for French onion soup, is Julia Child: “[C]ook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.” Ten minutes plus 25 to 30 minutes equals 35 to 40 minutes. That is how long it takes to caramelize onions.

Telling the truth about caramelized onions would turn a lot of dinner-in-half-an-hour recipes into dinner-in-a-little-over-an-hour recipes. I emailed Sam Sifton, the Times food critic turned national editor, to ask if the Recipe Writing Guild had some secret agreement to print false estimates of onion-cooking time. He wrote back: “I can reveal that onion caramelization takes longer than the Guild believes. But it need not take as long as you believe it to take! You can speed it up with butter, so long as you are careful not to burn.”

Could onions be browned, at all, in 10 minutes? I embarked on a quest to find out. Someone on Twitter had suggested things would go faster with sweet onions. This seemed a little like pepping up a bread pudding recipe by treating sliced pound cake as a kind of bread. But I bought a Tampico sweet onion, chopped half of it into tiny bits—only half, so as not to crowd the pan—and turned my biggest burner as high as it would go. Butter seemed a little risky at that temperature, so I went with olive oil, in a cheap, lightweight nonstick skillet. In five minutes, a few flecks of brown had appeared among the otherwise raw-looking onion bits. After eight minutes, some of the onion had begun to take on the scorched aspect of the unfortunate onions stuck to bagels. At the 10-minute mark, the brown flecks had turned black, in a mince that was a mix of brown and still-pale bits. The onion was done cooking—that is, it was beginning to be ruined—but it was not very well caramelized. At 11 minutes, I scraped an inedible mess out of the pan.

But the onion lies had not yet been fully refuted. Melissa Clark, the author of the Times’ scone recipe, claimed in a Diner’s Journal post that she relies on “a somewhat unusual technique,” one that “takes less than half the time of the traditional slow-cooked method of caramelization and makes for sweeter, more intensely flavored onions with a complex, chewy texture.” The secret, she writes, is starting the onions in a dry pan, and adding the oil later.

Note that half the time of the traditional method is still 20 minutes, not 10. Nevertheless, I decided to follow her instructions to the letter. I used a red onion, as Clark specified, “halved through the root and thinly sliced crosswise.” I started slicing it paper-thin. Not good enough? I got out the knife sharpener and touched up the edge on the cleaver. Now it was tissue-paper thin. I heated the pan—dry—over a generously medium-high flame, then added the onions.

After five minutes—when according to Brown, it would “begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft”—the onion was resolutely white and pink, and only slightly translucent. I added the oil: one tablespoon, extra-virgin. The white parts turned the color of extra-virgin olive oil.

At 10 minutes, when it was supposed to be done, the onion was translucent and soft, with only a tinge of gold. Soon after, one golden speck appeared. By 15 minutes, the onion was even softer and more golden. At 20 minutes, there were deep brown patches, and I was afraid they would scorch while I set down my spatula to take notes. At 24 minutes, the risk of scorching forced me to lower the heat to medium. By 25 minutes, they were pretty well caramelized, and at 28 minutes they were as done as I’d want.

So Clark was only off by 180 percent on the cooking time. You can save 12 minutes off caramelizing onions, provided you pin yourself to the stove.

That is the deeper problem with all the deceit around the question of caramelized onions. The premise is wrong. The faster you try to do it, the more you waste your time. This isn’t some kitchen koan. It’s a practical fact. The 10-minute-cum-28-minute caramelized onion is all labor and anxiety. Give yourself 45 or 50 minutes to brown onions, working slowly on a moderate flame, and it’s an untaxing background activity. You can chop other vegetables, wash some pots, duck out to have a look at the ballgame on TV in the next room. Keep half an eye on the pan. It will only need close tending toward the end.

Recipe writers approach kitchen time with a stopwatch. The Times’ scone recipe, as written, claimed to take 45 minutes. Once you subtract out the (fictitiously shortened) onion-cooking time, the one-minute caraway-seed-toasting time, the 15-to-17 minute baking time, and the 10-minute cooling time, that leaves the cook seven to nine minutes in the middle to mix the dough (including grating frozen butter into it), shape it, cut it into scones, and lay the scones out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Oh, and somewhere in there, the onions needed to “cool completely.” Isn’t home baking soothing?

In truth, the best time to caramelize onions is yesterday. Often enough, you need to have them ready before you can start on the rest of the dish. Thus the recipe-writers’ impulse to deceive. Browning onions is slow work, and it comes first. So get a pan going after dinner, and they’ll be ready when you need them. Or throw the onions in a crock pot and go to bed. In recipe time, that’s hours and hours. In your time, the time that matters, it’s less than five minutes.

Source: Slate

Video: Baked Chocolate Tofu Donuts


100 g hot cake mix
80 g soft tofu
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa
20 g sugar
15 g melted butter
chocolate for coating
your choice of toppings

Watch video at You Tube (0:56 minutes) . . . . .

Five Essential Rules of Nachos From Houston’s Chris Shepherd, a James Beard Award-Winning Chef

Kate Krader wrote . . . . . .

In the world of food, some dishes requires recipes, other don’t. And on the face of it, nachos would seem to fall in the latter category. If you have a pile of chips, some cheese and chili, instructions would seem superfluous. Yet nachos are more involved than you might think.

Shepherd has five rules for the perfect nachos. In advance of Super Bowl Ll, that’s being played in his home town of Houston, he wanted to share them with us.

1. Chips Are All Important. “Make sure your chips are thick and sturdy. If you get only one takeaway from this recipe, it’s thick chips. And they should be a certain shape. Are rounds good? No, I don’t think so, you want the corner texture; it’s a little crispier. And homemade are too greasy; don’t waste your time trying to make your own chips.” Testing tip: Not all thick chips are created equal. Make sure yours are sturdy and won’t melt when sauce hits them. If you’re serious about your nachos, it’s worth doing a test with a few chips and salsa to make sure they’ll hold up.

2. Go for Double Cheese. “If you’re only going to do one cheese, go with shredded Colby or Cheddar. Flavor and texture-wise it’s a better payoff, the way the cheese clings to the chip. But if you can do both cheese sauce and shredded cheese, you’ll be happier. You’re basically ensuring a jackpot with every chip.”

3. Layering, Layering, Layering. “The worst mistake you can make with nachos is to pour everything over the top. A high-rising pile of nachos is a beautiful thing. Respect the bottom layers; you don’t want those chips to be naked. Construct your nachos: bottom layer, middle layer, top layer.” Testing tip: This doesn’t mean a nacho mountain—the toppings inside won’t melt. Use a large pan and spread the chips out. And then, of course, top them well.

4. Pickled Hominy Is Your Secret Weapon. “Listen to me: I know pickled hominy might sound intimidating. All you have to do is buy a can of hominy at the store, open it, drain it, and pour a little of the warm pickling liquid on top. And bang, you’ve got acidity and the texture, that little crunchy kernel full of bright acidity. You have your nachos, covered in heavy meat and cheese, and all of a sudden you get a bite of hominy, and ‘Doop!’ Some people think that comes from a tomato, but hominy brings it to another level entirely.”

5. Texture is Key. “This recipe is especially constructed to deliver texture to the happy diner. Thick chips; chewy pickled hominy; crisp cabbage, and so on. In my opinion there is nothing worse than a soggy pile of chips. Do not let this happen to you. Please.”

Recipe: Chris’s Deluxe Nachos


Nacho Meat

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder (optional)

Homemade Pickled Jalapeños and Hominy

2 cups water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup sliced raw jalapeños (about 4 medium)
1 cup drained hominy

Spicy Cheese Sauce

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
8 oz grated sharp Cheddar
2 slices American cheese
2 tbsp sambal oelek Asian chile sauce or Sriracha

Nacho Fixings

two 16-ounce bags of thick, sturdy tortilla chips
1-1/2 cups nacho meat
2 cups spicy cheese Sauce
3 cups shredded or cubed colby Jack cheese
1 cup homemade or storebought pickled jalapeños
1 cup homemade pickled hominy
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup pico de gallo, for serving
1 cup sour cream, for serving
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, for serving


  1. To cook the meat, heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
  2. To make the pickled jalapeños and hominy, combine all ingredients except the jalapeños and hominy in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Put the sliced jalapeños in one bowl and the hominy in another bowl. Divide the hot pickling liquid between the bowls. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. To prepare the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slowly stir in the flour and cook over moderate heat until the roux is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and half and half. Cook, whisking occasionally to remove any lumps, until thickened and smooth, about 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in the grated sharp cheddar, a handful at a time. Add the American cheese, and let it melt into the sauce. Stir in the sambal. Season with salt.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Assembly: Cover a large, rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan with foil. Arrange a layer of tortilla chips on the cookie sheet. Spread one-third of the nacho meat on the chips, followed by a third each of the cheese sauce, Colby cheese, jalapeños, hominy and cabbage. Repeat the process two more times. Bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Top with the remaining ingredients. Consume immediately.

Source: Bloomberg

The Surprisingly Easy Way to Make Your Own Hot Sauce

Kate Krader wrote . . . . . .

If you’re like me and determined to cook more in 2017, start with one of the most all-purpose dishes around: hot sauce.

For one thing, who doesn’t love things spicy these days? For another, homemade hot sauce is surprisingly easy to make. And it guarantees you bragging rights. You can give it to others. You can bring it to someone’s house as your contribution to a dinner party. You can put it in your bag and take it on a trip if you’re worried about the food. Make it frequently enough, and you can start customizing it. At the elite spice boutique, La Boîte, Lior Lev Sercarz will customize a spice blend for you for $5,000. I love that idea, but a hot sauce all your own is a much cheaper way to have a signature flavor.

The recipe below is adapted from the Red Rooster Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson, based on dishes from his buzzy Harlem restaurant. It’s all-purpose, spicy, and a little fruity and vinegary. My adaptations included using easier-to-find chilies such as serranos in place of bird chilies, and tomato paste instead of tomato powder, which I’m not inclined to make or search for.

In my opinion, it could be even spicier; next time, I’m trying the hotter alternative. I may even add some of the chili seeds, which would amp up the heat. However you tweak it, remember to be careful when dealing with spicy chilies: Some recipes recommend wearing gloves when you work with them, which I think is cumbersome, not to mention a little lame. But wash your hands well after chopping the chiles because the burning sensation if you touch your eyes, or even your skin, is fast and furious and persistent.

If making hot sauce is not on your list of things to do, here’s Plan B: Check out Heatonist, where self-anointed hot sauce sommelier Noah Chaimberg sells more than 100 well-curated spicy condiments.

“At first, our neighbors thought it was the most hipster kind of bull—-, a hot sauce store in Williamsburg,” said Chaimberg, who quit a job with global marketing agency Razorfish, where he’d worked with such companies as Mercedes-Benz and Uniqlo and learned valuable lessons for starting his own brand. He opened the small storefront Heatonist a year ago. “Now those neighbors tell me they wouldn’t buy hot sauce anywhere else.”

He mail-orders sauces to customers all over the world. Surprisingly, a lot of orders come from Scandinavia, and he’s seen a big increase in orders from southern Europe, including Greece and Spain. Most of the sauces Chaimberg sells are small-batch, with cute stories behind them: the brothers from the Bahamas who couldn’t find their hometown sauce, so they made the spicy Pirate’s Lantern; the farmer in Hyogo, Japan (near beef mecca Kobe), who smokes his habanero chilies for three days to make Heaven Most Hot. Most sauces cost around $12.

The most expensive is also the hottest: the Reaper, at $50, is packed with fresh Carolina Reapers and was dubbed hottest on the Scoville spectrum by Guinness World Records. If you’ve heard that ghost chilies are killingly spicy, reapers are twice as hot. (Yes, I tasted that hot sauce—still recovering. When my mouth was on fire, Chaimberg didn’t give me water; instead he handed me a spoonful of a creamy, garlicky, sort-of-hot sauce, and it cooled things down.)

Back to my hot sauce resolution: Chaimberg looked at my Red Rooster recipe and said that, of the brands he stocks, Dawson’s Original Hot is the closest. It’s very good, garlicky, and sweet, with a proper mouth-tingling spice. I think mine is better.

Red Rooster Spicy Hot Sauce

Adapted from Red Rooster Cookbook (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), by Marcus Samuelsson


1 red bell pepper
4 serrano or Thai bird chilies, halved, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 habanero chili, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 tsp tomato paste or 1 tbsp tomato powder
1 tbsp Berbere spice (Ethiopian chili spice blend) or smoked paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1-1/2 tsp mustard powder
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups olive oil


  1. In a preheated 450°F oven, cook the bell pepper and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet until the pepper is charred all over and the garlic is tender, about 20 minutes; turn the pepper occasionally.
  2. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 15 minutes. Peel the garlic.
  3. Remove the roasted pepper’s peel, stem, and seeds and coarsely chop. Put the peppers and any juices from the bowl into a food processor. Add the garlic and all remaining ingredients, except for the olive oil. Process to a coarse purée.
  4. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil in a slow steady stream, until the hot sauce is smooth. Transfer the hot sauce to jars and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes about 4 cups.

Variation: Devil Hot Sauce

For an even spicier sauce, substitute 2 habanero chilies for the red bell pepper and 1/2 habanero; roast them with the garlic. (Seed the habaneros, but don’t peel them.) Use 2 seeded serrano or Thai chilies instead of 4; add 1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder.

Source: Bloomberg