Sweet and savory

Looking NNW from the back yard.

We had quite the sunset going on last evening.

Earlier, Herself and I enjoyed a ridiculously warm bike ride for March — I’m talking short sleeves and shorts here — through the hilly, low-traffic streets of the northeastern ’burbs.

Well, unless you count Tramway, which is anything but “low-traffic.” At the northern end you do get rewarded with a sniff of the fixin’s at The County Line barbecue joint, though.

No BBQ at the rancheroo, however. Instead I tried a Sam Sifton recipe for the Cuban comfort food picadillo, largely because I had most of the ingredients on hand and was bored with tacos and other ground-meat dishes.

Didn’t have any dried Spanish chorizo, or even any wet New Mexican chorizo, so I substituted some mild Italian sausage, plus some Spanish paprika and half a jalapeño. Also, no stuffed green olives, so I made do with black olives. And lacking canned whole tomatoes I went with crushed, which made the dish a little soupier than it might have been had I been able to drain off the excess juice and hand-squeeze the tomatoes.

Still, not bad, not bad at all. Next time I might skip the cloves and nutmeg, dial back the cinnamon, and use a bit more chile. And I’m definitely laying hands on some chorizo.

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23 Responses to “Sweet and savory”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    There was an old fashioned butcher shop in Bisbee that had really good chorizo. Back when we ate beef, they would hand cut NY strips or rib eyes that were also top drawer. They closed years ago. Might be able to find some good chorizo in Douglas near the border. We don’t go there much anymore.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      These NYT boyos never fail to include some oddball ingredient you can’t find anywhere except in New York City. As I recall, when Jim Harrison was in the chips and writing a lot about cooking from flyover places like Michigan, Arizona, and Montana, he invested a fair amount of money in having ingredients shipped from Dean & DeLuca.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I was lucky back on Long Island. I ate meat then and there was an awesome Italian butcher shop out in Rocky Point, not too far from where I lived. Best Italian sausage you could find.

  2. SAO' Says:

    We have a crazy simple chili recipe, pretty sure it came from the Denver Junior League cookbook series. The only was it could be any more basic is if it came out of a Hormel can. But everyone loves it, and we’re positive it’s for two reasons:
    1) Savory Spice medium chili powder
    2) Boulder Sausage Company Italian sausage.

    You substitute grocery store brand versions of those two things, and it falls flat.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Everybody needs a crazy simple chile recipe. Mine comes from my mom, who collected it when we were stationed at Randolph AFB outside San Antone during 1962-67.

      Hers featured Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chile. I went to Muir Glen tomatoes and Hatch chile (both green and red, the latter a blend of mild and hot, so medium), and started using a bit of hot Italian sausage too.

      Sometimes I’ll skip the pintos and do a mix of black and white beans for their color. The “crazy simple” aspect occasionally eludes me.

      • B Lester Says:

        I’ve got a great recipe that I’ve been using for years. A former boss named Jim Fish gave it to me, so naturally I call it “Fish’s Chili”. Also naturally, when I tell people what they’re eating, they mis-hear me and want to know why I put fish in my chili. No fish in it but great fun to see the looks on their faces.

  3. SAO' Says:

    There’s a gap in Outside magazine’s online archives, so there are many years worth of content that are just missing. But I remember a Jim Harrison short piece (in a collection of road trip stories) about driving Nebraska Hwy 20 across the northern border of the state and eating solely at truck stops the whole way, how they were guaranteed to have the best steaks and pie. I will say, the best hamburgers and brats I’ve ever had were Safeway-brand from Sidney, NE. Nothing but a little salt and pepper, and tomato, lettuce, and mayo. There is something about the meat from that state, with the exception of a certain mail-order frozen food company.

  4. Dale Says:

    The local churches in my ‘hood used to issue cookbooks anually as a fund raiser. As a heathen, I avoided those places until they sold the cookbooks – I have three. Never dismiss a grandma’s recipe for confort food. The only other time I attended (to the fellowship hall) was when they sold flounder platters or oyster sandwiches.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Comfort food. When I think of “comfort food,” it’s meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and some green vegetable, probably green beans. Mom’s meat loaf was your classic Midwestern gut bomb. Made great cold sammiches the next day. It’s one of the few recipes I rarely alter, though occasionally I’ll substitute a good salsa for the ketchup.

      Mom’s Meat Loaf

      3/4 lb. ground beef and 1/4 lb. ground pork
      1-2 eggs
      1 cup milk
      1 1/2 cups crumbled saltines
      1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
      2 tbsp ketchup
      1 packet Lipton onion soup mix

      Mix eggs and milk in a big bowl. Add the crushed saltines and remaining ingredients. Work mixture with hands until ingredients are thoroughly blended.

      Mold mixture into a mound on a flat baking pan. Cover with a light coating of ketchup, which gives the meat loaf a brown and crispy outside. Cook at 325° for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, reducing heat to 300° after the first hour.

  5. John A Levy Says:

    with a litte pork butt and spanish (Spanish or smoked paprika, some kosher salt and pepper plus a little vinegar you can whip up a nice little batch of chorizo. Instill have a freezer and stock some random pork cuts for things like posole and choriizo. nice part is with a small food pr0cessor you can make it as lean or wet as you like. Misspent teen age youth spent in an old fashioned butcher shop and grocery. plus some good recipes on then innertubes. in the great northwetten. farm raised beef and small butcher shops are making a comeback. It is pricey but good. 35 years ago we raised our own beef and got used to grass fed beef. haver never lost the taste..

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve never tried making my own chorizo, but that’s on the to-do list. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has a good recipe.

      The stuff these NYT dudes are on about is a cured, dried Spanish variety, like a salami with attitude. Wholeazon Amafoods has some (not here, of course), and so does that World Market outfit. There’s a specialty grocery down in the Murder & Robbery District that might carry it; I should armor up and pop round for a look-see.

  6. Pat O’Brien Says:

    I once made a meat loaf using, by mistake, blue berry granola instead of cracker crumbs. It was interesting. We ate it, because at the time we didn’t have two nickels to rub together.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Nothing quite like being stony broke, hey? I grew up a middle-class white boy and wanted for nothing, but I’ve managed to impoverish myself a time or two through simple cussedness and/or abject stupidity.

      It doesn’t help to have various habits that cut into the food budget (cigarettes, beer, weed). But at least one of them can be helpful. As Freewheelin’ Franklin once opined, “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.”

      The Freak Brothers

      The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers discuss “high” finance.

  7. carl duellman Says:

    i made a batch of vegan crockpot chili on sunday. it uses barley instead of beef. in my mind it’s not really chili but it’s still pretty good. i also used two different colors of kidney beans, light and dark, just for kicks. my go-to comfort food is either macaroni and cheese made by the recipe on the velveeta box or field peas and cornbread mixed together in a bowl with lots of butter and a little vinegary hot sauce. i need to read some of those jim harrison food books.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      O yeah. Cornbread. Especially cornbread with chili. Herself makes an excellent cornbread.

      And mac ’n’ cheese! You can make that last a few days, unless you eat it all in one sitting the way I do. Especially if there’s a little diced ham in there.

      Remember Lipton chicken-noodle soup? That was a sickbed fave. About an ounce of sodium per serving and a chicken apparently lived within a mile or two of the box at some point. (The chicken was also sick.) The noodles were the best part.

    • carl duellman Says:

      yesterday for supper i had leftover vegan chili over leftover macaroni and cheese. it was magical.

  8. Dale Says:

    Talking sausage:
    I am not a Texan and do not care for most Texas politicians; but I do like Elgin beef sausage – AKA hot guts. If you be a carnivour you need to give it a try. Don’t mix it with stuff; it stands on its own.

  9. Dale Says:

    Forgot the link:


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