As the holidays end, we think we can slow down on the eating. But the new year brings the National Football League playoffs and the Super Bowl. While it's always fun to get together with friends for the televised game, it can also mean too many temptations to overeat. Personally, after all the holiday indulgences of special meals and plenty of sweets, I'm apt to look for ways to slim down the calories in my menus without skimping on flavor or substance
And that goes for game day. Whether I entertain the family or a whole crowd of friends, I like to look for somewhat lighter fare and keep the menus simple.
At my house, chili is my game-day mainstay. What I like is that chili can be made the day before. Not only does that free me up the day of the party, but I believe chili is even better the next day. I like to make two different versions for variety: a spicy white turkey chili with white beans flavored with chopped green chile, and a red steak chili with black beans. And for those who are vegetarian or have vegetarian friends, I've included a recipe for a tasty vegetable chili. Add a simple tangy coleslaw on the side, and you're good to go.
When the guests get hungry, they can serve themselves. I make sure to provide plenty of condiments to dress up the bowls: diced avocado, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, grated cheeses, sour cream, tortilla chips and even Fritos. My experience is that people love to garnish their own servings with their favorite things, and often go back to try the other chili as well.
STEAK CHILI WITH BLACK BEANS
Start to finish: 1.5 hours
2 pounds round steak, diced to 1/4 inch
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup mild red New Mexico chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced with their juices
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can yellow corn, drained
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons masa harina flour
1/4 cup hot water
Heat the oil in a dutch oven and brown the round steak in
batches. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add the
paprika, the chile powder and the cumin, and stir to combine well.
Add the tomato sauce and stir, then add the water, the tomatoes,
the black beans and the corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and
simmer for 30 minutes. Add the salt and simmer for 15 minutes
Combine the masa harina flour with the water to make a flowable
mixture. Add to the chile. Simmer for 15 minutes more.
For dessert, a plate of brownies or some good cookies in the middle of the coffee table is always sure to please and is a cinch to pass around. And to really make it painless for yourself, you can simply ask your guests to bring their favorite desserts.
By planning and cooking ahead, and with a little help from your friends, you've put together a fun afternoon with a lighter and healthier spread that satisfies everyone and is accomplished with very little fuss. And the best part is that instead of hanging in the kitchen, you can join in the fun, cheering on your favorite team.
SPICY WHITE TURKEY CHILI
Start to finish: 2-3 hours
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 pound ground turkey
3/4 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped roasted New Mexico green chile (or 4 cans
diced green chile)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried cumin
1 tablespoon dried coriander
2 small bay leaves
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn or hominy, rinsed and drained
2 zucchinis, diced (about 2 cups)
1 quart chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
Heat oil over medium high in large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add
Italian sausage, and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Add
onion and garlic, and saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add
ground turkey, turn heat to high, and cook until browned and no
pink remains. Add the green chiles. Add the the oregano, the cumin,
the coriander, and the bay leaves, and stir to evenly combine.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the cannelini beans and the corn, and
stir once more. Add the cornmeal, and stir again. Gradually add the
chicken stock while stirring. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to
a simmer, cover and cook over very low heat for 1-2 hours. Correct
seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with chopped scallions and chopped cilantro.
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 each, carrots and celery stalks, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped and drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon each, cumin and dried oregano
2 cans red kidney beans, undrained
2 small zucchini, diced
grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions, celery, jalapeno
peppers. Cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, green pepper, parsley,
chile powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer, covered,
for 20 minutes, stirring often. Add beans, cook 15 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook uncovered
for 5 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with cheese.