Thursday, January 31, 2008


A recent email exchange made me think of my chili-cooking history.

During college I used to make chili all the time, especially on weekend afternoons, using a James Beard recipe as a starting point and a stack of LPs or a martial arts movie as an accompaniment. The chili was an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of concoction, involving ground beef and kidney beans and a very rich blend of herbs and spices and even sugary stuff like molasses.

After college, slicing the peppers caused a memorable mishap that I won't go into here.

Later—during my Brooklyn years—I found a recipe in The New York Times (July 28, 1985) that I couldn't resist trying. How could I resist, when veteran food writer Craig Claiborne introduced the recipe with the lede To be blunt about it, certain recipes are far more memorable than others?

More than twenty years later, I haven't forgotten the recipe though I only prepare it every now and then. It's a classic Texas-style chili, a spicy beef stew that is made without beans using cubed, not ground, beef. And the only tweak needed to make it gluten-free simply involves using gluten-free flour. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, especially for trimming the meat right.
5 pounds lean chuck
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
5 cups fresh or canned chicken broth, approximately
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Carefully trim off and discard all fat from the meat. Cut the meat into very small cubes.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy, deep kettle and add the beef cubes. Cook, stirring, until the meat loses its raw look.

3. Sift together the flour and chili powder and sprinkle this over the meat. Stir so that the pieces of beef are evenly coated.

4. Sprinkle with the coriander, cumin and oregano. Add the garlic and stir to blend. Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Let cook over low heat three to four hours or until the meat is exceptionally tender. Stir often from the bottom to prevent sticking and scorching. If necessary, add more broth. The dish should not be soupy.

Serves 8-12, with optional side dishes such as rice, Mexican beans and hot table sauce.
And here's a recipe tip that I've been meaning to share: The New York Times is full of great recipes that are either gluten-free or easily converted to gluten-free. At least that was the case several years ago.

And here's some martial arts action to go with that. (It's a trailer for the nightmarish Master of the Flying Guillotine.)

Source (1:42)


madeline said...

hey there GF NYC. i'm new in the blogging circuit and i have a goal to link all of the city-specific gluten-free bloggers together so that we can form one big informational network for people living all over the USA (and eventually elsewhere). this type of stuff is awesome for those that travel and/or are new to a city.

anyway, i hope you don't mind that i've linked to you from my blog, gluten free chicago.


Ellen said...

Ha! Chili & martial arts action... I prefer my meat-free, sweet potato & pinto bean chili to be chopped, diced & slow cooked with The Grateful Dead as accompaniment.