Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rachael and I made chili, and it was "pretty darn good."

One of my initial thoughts in starting this blog and entitling it "Not to Brag" was to use it as an impetus to accomplish things that I could then not brag about. You'll note if you check my profile that one of my hobbies/interests is thinking about projects I want to accomplish. That's no lie. I don't have enough time right now to devote time to all the projects I would like to--buying new curtains for upstairs, learning how to thread my sewing machine and subsequently sewing something, making my own greeting cards, cleaning out my pantry, finishing my dissertation, and etc. (Actually, I am making steady progress on the dissertation, thanks for asking). And though there isn't time for all of my projects--just a few are named above--I do truly enjoy thinking about when I might have the chance to work on them and how it will feel to complete them.

Anyway, one of the major "projects" on my list is becoming a better cook. You'll note in my profile that eating, thinking, and talking about food are also hobbies of mine. I have many, many cookbooks and love paging through them and considering new recipes. I also have a ridiculous recipe binder that I won't go into now because it is so unwieldy and my dedication to maintaining it so obsessive that the binder deserves its own post.

I narrowed my culinary goal for this fall to something more manageable: becoming a better cook of soup. (I almost wrote "cooker of soup," but I am not a Dutch oven, nor am I a crock pot). So, I thought a new feature of NTB could be accounts of my attempts to make soup.

Rachael Ray and I made Indian Summer Turkey Chili** this evening, the "perfect" dish for a nice October Day when it is above 90 degrees outside. It came from my copy of Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Get Real Meals. This cookbook might predate Rachael's "stoup" stage; indeed, the title of the chapter is "That's Souper!"

Now, before continuing with my account of the souper soup, I want to pause and clarify something: I do not count myself among the Rachael Ray haters. Sure, the constant mention of EVOO can grate, as can her habit of saying "real" when she means "really." There's something about the way she says "cumin," usually in conjunction with the adjectives "nice" and "smoky" that also gets to me. And sure, her recipes may take longer than thirty minutes if you don't remember to wash and prep all your produce right when you get home from the store or if you don't happen to have ziploc bags full of fresh herbs in your fridge. However, I find her honest, engaging, and very creative. I'm not a gourmet chef or hard-core foodie so I don't object to the fact that Rachael uses canned tomatoes in her recipes or whatever other culinary sins she might commit. She does not pretend to be a classically trained chef. I watched her Chefography on the Food Network and was impressed. This woman has worked her ass off and still seems fairly down-to-earth, even though she is friends with Oprah and everything.

Okay, that being said, here's the verdict on her Indian Summer Turkey Chili. It was very easy to make and probably took about forty minutes. I think an at-home cook who did not have a helper like the bub might be able to finish in 30 minutes. In terms of exotic ingredients, there really weren't any. I did not have Montreal Steak seasoning, but I don't begrudge the $2.23 I spent obtaining it. I'm also not sure that the barbecue sauce I used was "smoky," but it didn't seem to matter. The hubby pronounced the chili "pretty good" and then later upgraded it to "pretty darn good." NTB. He said he would eat it again and even suggested it was the best red chili I have ever made (he is more a fan of my white chicken chili). I enjoyed the flavors of the chili, but the heat was a little much for me. The two tablespoons of hot sauce went farther than I anticipated. If I made it again, I would use half the hot sauce and let my husband add more to his bowl. And, I think I would make it again, if only I didn't have so many other soups to stir. NTB.

** The Indian Summer Turkey chili recipe I linked to above is slightly different than the one in the cookbook. All the ingredients are the same, but the recipe I used called for half the amount of ground turkey, half the amount of corn, and double the amount of tomato sauce. I tested the recipe using half a Coor's Light (my husband didn't want to "waste" a Budweiser for cooking) and Sweet Baby Ray's sauce. I used one green and one yellow pepper.


LAP said...

I checked out the really make recipes with that many ingredients? I'm impressed without even tasting the final product. I can't even imagine how long it would take me to track down all those items at the grocery store.

Anonymous said...

I looked over the recipe and applaud you for following through with a new recipe. I generally spend many hours reading cookbooks and recipes but seldom follow through on preparation. I think Grandma P's chile recipe is pretty darn good but I would try the Indian Summer Turkey chili for a change of pace. Who doesn't love chili in the fall and winter? I know already there is no hot sauce going in mine. M

Anonymous said...

While I find RR's punning a bit much--especially in her recipe titles--I still find her charming. In fact, just today Matt and I got sucked into her True Hollywood Story, and I was angry (more than I probably should have been) at this pathetic bitter woman who started the "Rachael Ray Sucks" website. Don't people have anything better to do? Like read a good book? Or make 30-minute meals?

Anonymous said...

Oops, I mean to own my anger from above.

Sara G.

Actchy said...

I'm actually not really anti-Rachel Ray, but I have the same cookbook of hers that you do, and I must say, I can't even look at it without wanting to barf. Her plays on words give me vertigo. But some of her recipes are pretty decent.

For what it’s worth, I can't say the same for Sandra Lee, who is just plain awful and should be taken off the Food Network and put on some sort of Cable Access channel. (I'm sorry, MEP, I know you've watched her chefography and feel that she's overcome adversity and attained success on her own -- super cheesy -- terms.) I'm always dismayed when I have some time to sit and watch the Food Network, my favorite channel, and Semi-Homemade is on. I mean, is "tablescape" even a word?

This being said, I applaud your taking steps toward one of your many goals! Chili is a great place to start, because it is so versatile! (Even a tablespoon of leftover chili has some significant mileage if you put it on a hotdog.)

CJR said...

I think soup is overrated and not the best initial focus of your aspirations in cooking. I would suggest top-quality main dishes like pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, whole roasted chickens and turkey and a good pot roast. Campbell's makes fine soups for people who aren't getting a real dinner. Good gravy on real food makes life worth living.

Anonymous said...

i have to beg to differ with the above. i love love love to cook--by far my favorite hobby. i cook soup all of the time and am quite obsessed with it. i actually said to damon the other night, "honey, soup season has started! aren't you excited?!?!" sad, i know, but remind me to pass along some of my favorite recipes. msp

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