July 31, 2005

Chili, Biscuits, & Technology

Mostly, I tend toward cold, light, and refreshing meals at this time of year. Sometimes, however, the need to cook from the pantry, or the sort of odd light-headedness I get from eating sporadic non-meals for too long a stretch, makes me want something hearty. Chili fits the bill, because it is definitely hearty, but also employs the flavours of Mexico which eases the fact that it is not really summer food in most respects.

I've been on something of a mission to clear out my fridge before we head away to Scotland this coming week, and thus I have sometimes found myself with interesting challenges on my hands. Having used the last of my tortillas, and not really wanting to get or make more that will then languish in my absence, and being quite low on bread, I decided to make biscuits to go with my chili. Usually, we can demolish a pan of biscuits in pretty much record time, and if there were any leftover, I could always freeze them. Besides, biscuits are a classic sort of Texan dish, and quite appropriate for chili. Especially, if they are cheese biscuits.

For the chili, I was simply using up ground beef that was in the freezer, and a miscellany of beans and tomatoes in the pantry. The various seasonings are things that I always have on hand, and so I made what for me is a fairly standard bowl of mixed bean chili.

I should say here, that I am a huge fan of "proper" Texas chili, the quintessential "bowl o' red" as well as more faithfully Mexican dishes, such as Posole (which to me has always seemed to be a sort of chili), but I also enjoy my mother's style of chile, which as you can see, uses ground beef, kidney beans (I also added black beans, since they were handy), tomatoes, and peppers. It is a fine, comforting dish, and it makes a fine conversion to Chili Macaroni, Chili Dogs, or even Chili Omelettes, if that's what floats your boat.

The biscuits are my oh-so-simple biscuit recipe, gussied up with a little cheddar cheese and some freshly snipped sage from the window sill. For the first time, I actually used the food processor to mix the dough - filled with trepidation that the dough would yield tough little bullets instead of my predictably airy little scones. I need not have worried, as it turned out. The processor did an excellent job of integrating the cheese, and the biscuits rose up as tall as I could have wished.

They were as good a match for the chili as I had hoped, too. The flavours of sage and cheddar complemented the chipotle-tinged chili, and the whole meal (rounded out with cole slaw) turned out rather well.

I'm cautiously pleased with the food-processor adventure, and will probably employ it again. I am often torn between my absolute pleasure at doing things the old fashioned way, and the speed and convenience that comes with using newer kitchen technology. The only reason I might not use the processor, really, is that it is marginally more effort to clean than a bowl and wooden spoon. Since I can throw the processor bowl and lid into the dishwasher, that probably shouldn't be much of a deterrent.

The chili is gone, having been reincarnated (heh) as chili dogs a couple of nights later, and the few biscuits that made it through the night were eagerly devoured the next day.

The fridge is almost bare. We leave for Glasgow in two days.


Templar said...

Have fun... Toss lots of kabers... walk that farmer.. :p

Lori said...

Oh, oh, oh -- I love biscuits! I have to make them myself because they don't sell them in Manila, where I am.

Dawna said...

Biscuits are a great way to round out a meal that "needs a little something" - don't you think?

I like to use my biscuit recipe as a crust on top of a beef stew for a sort of pot-pie (we call it biscuit-pie) one-pot dinner.

Plus, I love how you can really play with the flavours - sweet, herby, savory, spicy... so many choices...