Chunky Beef Chili

I can’t say that we ever get really cold weather, but some days when it is overcast and the wind is whipping off the ocean, it is fairly cool. On those days I really love a good stew or soup – or even better, chili.

Early this week I had all the ingredients needed to make a mean chili.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 005The first thing I did was make a spice blend of dried chili peppers.

San Clemente 8.3a.2013 004A friend brought these back from the states, I have only seen dried chili peppers in a small open air market in Quito three years ago. It is not something that you would find at Super Maxi on a regular basis. But adding different types of ground dry peppers adds not  so much heat but intense flavor to your chili sauce. Even when we were living in the US and able to find all sorts of prepackaged chili mixes I still added this special touch to bring an authentic quality to my chili.

Beef Chunk Chili with Fresh Red Beans

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of Lomo Fino (tenderloin of beef) cut into bite sized pieces (I know, steak, but we pay $2.50 / lb. off the truck for it)
  • green and red peppers cut into chunks
  • tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 lb of fresh red beans, washed and picked through
  • red onion cut into quarters
  • carrots cut into large pieces
  • garlic crushed
  • celery cut into large pieces
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of chili seasoning (see recipe below)
  • large bunch of cilantro chopped fine (save 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on finished chili)
  • vegetable oil for browning meat
  • 1/2 Cup of red wine (drinking variety not cooking wine)
  • 4 cups of beef or vegetable stock (fresh is best but a few cubes in water will work)
  • pepper
  • salt and dried red pepper flakes to taste…if you used stock cubes use salt sparingly

First I took one of the large New Mexico Chilies and three of the smaller Chili Japones peppers and with scissors cut them into small strips, seeds and all. Added 1/2 teaspoon of my dried yellow pepper flakes but first dry cooked them on low heat on the stove until I started to cry and Joe needed to leave the house…To this I added cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and garlic powder. Honestly I have no real measurements so use your imagination. Do not burn, just gently sauté until you can smell the spices. Set aside to cool. Add this cooled mixture to a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

Brown the meat with a small amount of vegetable oil in a large pressure pot until the meat is colored on all sides and the juices are sealed in. Do this step in stages so as not to crowd the pan or you wind up boiling the meat. You want to seal in the juices so the heat should be high and the oil hot. Remove meat and set aside. Turn up the heat and add the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the balance of the ingredients plus the meat back to the pot, stir and bring the liquids to a boil. Turn down the heat and secure the lid. After the pressure valve begins to rock, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the amount of veggies added. Remember do not overfill the pressure pot. Keep the heat low and the pressure valve rocking slowly or your food will scorch to the bottom of the pan.

I do not like seasoning with salt until the meat is completely cooked. Taste for seasoning and add salt and extra red pepper flakes at this time.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 007Sprinkle balance of cilantro on chili and serve with rolls or crackers. Honestly this is a great dish and can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days to intensify the flavors even more. If you are not into spicy, use more of the dried peppers and less of the hot pepper flakes and cayenne. Buen Provecho!

Homemade Hot Pepper Flakes

Both Joe and I just love adding hot pepper flakes to our food. I buy it in a huge 12 oz container but go through it so fast that I decided to make my own. First I must give credit to John MacDonald who did this with his own hot peppers and gave me the idea to make my own, thanks J0hn!

The young man who delivers fresh fruits and veggies to our gate had these beautiful yellow hot peppers a few days ago.

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After washing them and removing the stems, I used the scissors to cut them up into smaller pieces. Don’t allow your fingers to touch these because it is very painful, I use plastic gloves or plastic baggies to keep my hands safe.

I put these on pizza trays and then into a preheated 275- 300 degree F oven for about 1 hour. Every 10 minutes I would toss them and move the pans around.

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The jar on the left is red pepper flakes I made about a month ago, the jar on the right is todays’ batch of yellow pepper flakes.

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Yummy! And as Jacques Pepin would say, FLAKE!

Look! Pork and Fish On The Doorstep


Yesterday the young men who deliver pork and beef to our neighborhood stopped with a beautiful rack of pork ribs. I just could not resist and made these beauties for Joe last night. One word of caution, do not allow anyone to chop up your pork or goat using a machete or ax, this just splinters the bone and you end up having to pick out tiny bits of bone before you can prepare. This was pretty tricky for me to get into my biggest pot.

$2.50 a pound was expensive when I can buy tenderloin of pork from these same guys for that, so I will need to discuss this with these guys next Thursday when they come by.

Also this week the fish guy riding his bike with a 5 gal bucket precariously balanced on the bar sold me two pounds of these beautiful fillets for $4.

In looking for something different to do I decided to make Asian Fish Balls. What a great idea. Here is the recipe for those of you who need a change from the same old fish dish. This recipe comes from

Asian Fish Balls

Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds white fish, such as largemouth bass, catfish or bluegill
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or Worcestershire
  • 3 small hot chiles, minced (you can use less if you want, we like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced lemongrass or lime zest (I used both)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I did not have fresh so I used fresh dill it worked well)
  • 1 egg (I used 2 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (you can use regular flour, too), plus more for dusting (I did not use this at all)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedges to serve
  1. Chop the fish into small pieces and put in a food processor. (I left the fish a bit chunky, it had a nicer consistency to me)
  2. Beat the egg and put it into the processor.
  3. Put everything else into the food processor and buzz into a paste. You want it pretty smooth, but not totally pureed. The reason you chop all these ingredients before putting into a food processor is because if you don’t some things will be a pulp by the time others will be broken down enough to use in the fish ball.
  4. Put a cup of flour into the bowl (this was not in the list of ingredients above and I did not use it – was not necessary)
  5. Get your oil hot over medium-high heat in a deep-fryer or a high-sided pot. Don’t fill the pot more than halfway full. What kind of oil? I use canola or peanut oil. You can reuse this oil a half-dozen times if you strain it through cheesecloth after you’ve finished and let the oil cool. (I used corn oil and threw it out, I don’t reuse oil that I fried fish in ever)
  6. Once the oil is approaching 350 degrees, start making your fish balls. Grab enough of the mixture to make a fish ball about the size of a ping pong ball and dust it in the rice flour. (did not dust)
  7. Fry the fish cakes a few at a time so the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much. Cook at least 5 minutes, and up to eight — you’re looking for golden brown.
  8. Drain the fish balls on a wire rack set over a paper towel.
  9. Serve with lime wedges and a cold beer.

Joe made a dipping sauce as follows:

1/2 C White Vinegar

2 packets of Splenda (you can use sugar if preferred)

1 t grated fresh ginger,

1 T onion

1 t carrot

Hot pepper vinegar to taste, dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of sweet and sour sauce.

This made a little bit over a half a cup. He just guessed at the quantities but it came out excellent and was a wonderful accompaniment to this dish. We ate the leftovers the next afternoon as a snack and they were actually great cold with the sauce splashed over them.