It’s once again an Australia Time Friday! It’s FRIDAY!!!!
Tonight we’re giving Lamb Chili a go. I’ll be using my usual chilli recipe with a lamb mince instead of beef. I expect it will end up almost the same what with the spices and all covering any subtle meat flavours. Side vegetables TBD but I’m leaning toward corn (the Mrs. can eat it) and Kabocha squash, and the wine is Gumdale Shiraz Cabernet, 2017. It is 80% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet. $9 at Wines Of The World.
Kabocha is the big green warty squash, but has very nice darker orange “sweet potato like” flesh. It, and the harder to find Kuril Red, are two of my favorites
Kabocha (/kəˈboʊtʃə/; […]) is a type of winter squash, a Japanese variety of the species Cucurbita maxima. It is also called kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin in North America. In Japan, “kabocha” may refer to either this squash, to the Western pumpkin, or indeed to other squashes.
Many of the kabocha in the market are kuri kabocha, a type created from seiyo kabocha (buttercup squash). Varieties of kabocha include Ajihei, Ajihei No. 107, Ajihei No. 331, Ajihei No. 335, Cutie, Ebisu, Emiguri, Marron d’Or and Miyako.
Kabocha is hard on the outside with knobbly-looking skin. It is shaped like a squat pumpkin and has a dull-finished, deep-green skin with some celadon-to-white stripes and an intense yellow-orange color on the inside. In many respects it is similar to buttercup squash, but without the characteristic protruding “cup” on the blossom (bottom) end. An average kabocha weighs two to three pounds, but a large squash can weigh as much as eight pounds.
Kabocha has an exceptional sweet flavor, even sweeter than butternut squash. It is similar in texture and flavor to a pumpkin and sweet potato combined. Some kabocha can taste like Russet potatoes or chestnuts. The rind is edible although some cooks may peel it to speed up the cooking process or to suit their personal taste preferences. Kabocha is commonly utilized in side dishes and soups, or as a substitute for potato or other squash varieties. It can be roasted after cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and then cutting the squash into wedges. With a little olive oil and seasoning, it can be baked in the oven. Likewise, cut Kabocha halves can be added to a pressure cooker and steamed under high pressure for 15–20 minutes.
Kabocha is available all year but is best in late summer and early fall. Kabocha is primarily grown in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, California, Florida, Hawaii, Southwestern Colorado, Mexico, Tasmania, Tonga, New Zealand, Chile, Jamaica, and South Africa, but is widely adapted for climate
Tonight’s wine is just a delight. It has the smoothness of a nice Cabernet, though not so smooth as to be bland, and the flavours of the Shiraz, tempered just enough to not be overwhelming. I really like this wine! For a 2017, it is remarkably ready to drink right from the bottle.
Colour is a deep dark cherry red when viewed through the glass with the sky behind. Nose is light and a bit of fruit to it. Flavour is a very unusual mix of Shiraz ambition and Cabernet depth. Did I mention I really like this wine? A Lot. It lights up a little more with a Ritz Cracker, so I’m pretty sure it will be a big winner with a meal. It’s unusual to find a wine that is good just alone in the glass, and can stand up to chilli. I’m pretty sure this is the one for it.
So, OK, I need to get after making the chilli before I find the bottom of the bottle. I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to survive the night, so I need to get the “playing with fire and knives” part done while I’m still, er, “focused”… ;-)
FWIW, my Chilli Recipe is based mostly on Dad’s Chilli Recipe. At about 8 years old he shared with me the “secret” of his chilli and why we had to make a 5 gallon pot of it frequently in the restaurant. “Use 3 times as much comino as chilli pepper”. In much of the world comino is called cumin, but in a place with a lot of Mexicans, comino is commonly used. It’s all the same plant.
See, most folks think the distinctive flavour of chilli comes from the chilli pepper. It doesn’t. The pepper just adds hotness. By upping the actual flavour spice relative to the hot, you get a rich deep flavour without the mouth deadening hotness. It tastes and smells better, AND you can actually taste it after the first bite… ;-) Don’t use too much though, as too much cumin starts to taste bitter.
So I sauté one onion per pound of meat, add the meat to brown it up, add some minced garlic, simmer to done. Then sprinkle over with chilli powder / chilli pepper to the hotness you like, add 3 x that much cumin / comino, stir well. (For me, I think it is about a tsp of pepper and TBS of cumin, but I’m a dumper so who knows…) Then I typically use a jar of marinara sauce for the tomato component. It’s just so easy and the oregano is already in it. Final step is “Salt and Pepper To Taste”. Then I add pre-cooked (usually canned by me) beans to whatever degree is desired. Ranging from “none” to “about 1/2” for me.
I think that’s pretty much it. No, I don’t drain the fat. Use a modestly low fat grade of ground meat and enjoy the richness in the chilli that nobody else can explain. Sometimes I use a little bit of olive oil to sauté the onions. Sometimes I’ll just start browning off the meat and let the onions get cooked in the natural fat from the meat. It doesn’t seem to matter much. I’ve never found a “too much” or a “too little” for garlic. I like it with some in it, but if I’ve run out it does OK anyway. Sometimes I’ll add chopped up black olives as variety. I used to put a can of stewed tomatoes in too, but when tomatoes started to make the arthritic fingers thing happen, left them out. I’ve also used Polynesian / Filipino “Banana sauce” instead of Marinara for the same reason. It has it’s own peppers in it, so adjust hotness accordingly! (It comes in several hotness grades, one of which is OMG!)
Particular beans used is “what have I got?”. Pintos are fine. Black Beans are great, as are reds. I’ve used Navy Beans and Great Northern when nothing else was around even though it doesn’t look quite right. Peruano beans ought to work great given how well they did in “Ham & Beans”, but I’ve not used them yet (though I have 25 lbs in the ’emergency stores”). Tonight will probably be pintos as I’ve canned up a bunch of them so they are ready to go. One batch I made with a mix of 4 or 5 different bean types. It was fun, but a bit of a PITA to get them all done as each took a different cooking time. It ended up a very big batch of chilli too!
So that’s about all I can think of on the chilli front. Time to go start the stove work… Hmmm… the wine bottle is already 1/4 empty… who’s been hitting it when I was typing? ;-)