Saturday, April 09, 2011

Oh Lord, Bless this Food: Magical Cooking

With my wife dealing with chronic illness beyond the scope of my magical ability to heal, there are often times when I have to cook. I used to cook in a restaurant... Ok, it was a bar and grill, but it had delusions of grandeur. We had gourmet soups, the best prime rib on the planet, and we constantly went out of our way to make the dining experience shock the customers. So I'm a decent cook, and my kids rarely complain.

This isn't my chili, but it looked similar.
So last night was a night I had to cook. I decided on chili, because it's super easy. My recipe is pretty straight forward, a pound of ground beef, a whole sweet onion, one huge ass can (26 oz) of dark red kidney beans, two regular (I think 15 oz) cans of diced tomatos, one (15ish oz) can of sweet corn, drained, and a little can of tomato paste. And a tablespoon of minced garlic, or two cloves, salt and pepper to taste, a quarter teaspoon of cumin (I forgot it last night, but it adds a mild "dirt" flavor that seems to go well with chili), and the chili powder.

The chili powder was an issue. See, usually I get the most expensive seasoning possible, keep it for short periods of time so it tastes fresh, and ditch it when it starts to lose its aroma. Last time I bought chili powder, I was totally at Wal Mart. And money was tight, so I bought the generic. And you could totally tell when I made the chili. So last night, I cheated: I used magic.

I browned the ground beef with the chopped up onion and garlic, salt, and pepper. I love that smell. Then I got all the canned stuff together and the spices, saw the generic stuff, and remembered the generic flavor of the last chili I'd made. Remembering that the Supernatural Assistant (SA) is also supposed to be able to bring together an awesome dinner on command, I conjured him up and said, "Make this the best tasting chili in the world, improve the flavor of the ingredients that the end product is better than it should be by rights."

When the ground beef was done and the onions had started to turn translucent, just, I added all the canned goods. I added the chili powder, and again asked my SA to bless the seasoning and the end product with good flavor. I stirred it all up, and turned down the heat of the burner to simmer.

Then I made my mistake.

Thinking it needed to be brought up to a boil before turning it back down, I cranked the burner back up to about 6. I figured, less than high heat, shouldn't burn, but still hot enough to get it boiling. I'll be in the next room, I'll remember to come back and turn it down to simmer. No worries!

And I went off and played video games with my son and daughter. Pretty soon, the aroma of burned beans began to fill the house. With a loud "SHIT!" I ran to the kitchen as my kids made the, "oooo, you said the ess word" noises they always make when I cuss. It was too late though, the beans had burned on the bottom.

If you've ever burned beans in chili, you know the whole pot is ruined, right? The smoke flavor permeates the whole thing. I was pissed. I turned the whole thing off and made plans to run to KFC. Before heading out though, I had to at least taste it.

Best damned chili I ever made. Somehow, the smoke flavor wasn't total ass. Don't ask me how. It was great! I just had to be careful not to scrape the bottom when serving it. The kids loved it, and they're total chili snobs. My teen loved it.

It was a complete miracle.
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