Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An alternative to chili.

As winter blasted the Erie region Monday and Tuesday, and frigid temps locked down the region I found many of my friends breaking out the chili recipes and hunkering down.  Looking for an alternative to chili and I found a recipe for Spanish Chilindron on Hank Shaw's website  

This red pepper stew, has the look of chili, so your mind immediately goes down that path, but once you taste this you realize it's missing the key dried chili pepper flavors.  This winter warmer satisfies your need for warm red foods, but does it in a bright somewhat tangy way. 

Hank's recipe (see below) calls for Pheasant, or some form of wild game.  Since my freezer is far lacking this year, I chose to substitute in dark chicken meat, with skin intact.  I also shorten the simmer time, knowing that domestic chicken will take far less time to be tender.  Having now tasted the dish, I can see where this would be an excellent choice for wild game.

Other than substituting the chicken for pheasant, I followed the recipe as is, and probably would do it that way again  I could see the addition of mushrooms rounding out the stew and perhaps dialing back the bay leaf and rosemary, as the stew was quite fragrant.  The recipe called for stock as needed, and I had gotten my dark meat by boning out 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks, so I boiled those bones with seasonings and a couple bullion cubes.  That created a rich, depth of flavor that I really appreciated in the final product.  I ate the stew straight, and Hank recommends some fried polenta, but I could see any number of breads, or even a bed of rice, being a fine addition to this dish.

Happy Cooking
Scott M

Chilindron, Spanish red pepper stew
(as posted by Hank Shaw)

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours

3 pounds chicken, pheasant, lamb, venison or rabbit, in serving pieces
2 large onions, sliced in half-moons
10 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 jar (15 ounces or so) or 5 roasted red sweet peppers, chopped
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups red or white wine
Stock if needed (chicken or beef or whatever goes with your choice of meat)
1/2 cup diced cured meat: Bacon, pancetta, ham, etc.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Large handful of dried mushrooms (optional)

If using, put the mushrooms in a container just large enough to hold them and pour hot water over them. Cover and set aside.

Salt the meat and set aside for 10-20 minutes at room temperature. Use this time to chop the veggies.

Pat the meat dry and pour the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a lid.

Heat the pot over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides in batches. Do not overcrowd the pot. Set the meat aside in a bowl when browned. Take your time and do this right. Add more oil if needed.

When the meat is browned, add the onions and stir to bring up some of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the onions with a little salt. Cook until they begin to brown, then add the garlic, the cured meat and the mushrooms, if using. Cook until fragrant, then add the meat back to the pot and mix well.

Pour in the wine and turn the heat up to high. Stir and boil furiously until the wine is half gone.

Turn the heat back down to medium and add the tomatoes, the roasted red peppers and all the spices and herbs (except the parsley). Stir well. The level of liquid should be about 2/3 the way up the sides of the meat. If it is low, add the stock. I used the full 2 cups.

Allow to simmer until meat is tender, start testing after 1 hour, I removed from heat after 2 hours.  Wild game will be a judgement call.

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