Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fiesta Soup

Need a reason to celebrate or do something special?  Make this soup - it is worth celebrating.  We call it something different at our house and you'll just have to trust me when I say that you just wouldn't get it.  To call it taco soup gives you some idea of what it is but is altogether too pedestrian and just doesn't do it justice.  If, however, I said the best +*^&^%$#@!."/_=@#$%^?!! taco soup you've every had, then you'd start to get it. 

The list of ingredients looks long (like an Emeril recipe) but wait!  Before you switch off, look at the method; super easy! And besides, it is so delicious.  You really won't believe that something so easy could be so good.   

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 c. frozen corn
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 15 oz. can chili con carne
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz. jar salsa (your preference but we like La Victoria)
1 10 oz. can tomato juice
1 c. water
1 Tbsp. minced garlic2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

For Garnish
6 oz. cheddar or pepperjack cheese, shredded
1-2 small-medium limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small container sour cream
1 bag yellow corn tortilla chips

The Method
Add oil to large stock pot over medium heat and add onion, corn and a pinch of salt.  Saute for 4-6 minutes.  Add ground beef or turkey, scramble and cook until evenly browned.  Add chili, black beans, salsa, soup, water, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice and seasonings and stir to combine.  Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat and dish into bowls. 

Garnish with cheese, sour cream, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  You may also want to break up a few chips as an additonal garnish but we recommend using the chips as an edible utensil for scooping up the stuff.   

Food for Thought
If you want to jazz up your chips a bit, don't forget this easy idea.  Also, you may have noticed that in this and in other recipes, I recommend ground beef or ground turkey.  Ground turkey may sound weird to some and that's OK.  Ground beef is still our friend and, in many cases, cannot be substituted.  However, in dishes like this, I find that the ground turkey works great.  The texture is usually better than ground beef, which can sometimes be a bit rubbery.  I will be the first to admit that, on it's own, it is not the most delicious product around.  In fact, it is a bit flat and boring.  The great thing though is, because it doesn't have a great deal of inherent flavor, it responds well to whatever you season it with.  It tastes like you want it to taste based on how you treat it, thus it is a great culinary canvas on which you can create something wonderful - like the best taco - I mean fiesta soup you've ever had.  Serves 8-10.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grilled Potatoes

It has been said that the simple things in life are the best.  If that is true, then it explains why these potatoes are so amazing. 

Desired number of Idaho Russet baking potatoes
2-3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 generous Tbsp. Kosher salt

The Method
Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350-400 degrees).  Select potatoes suitable for baking, scrub and cut off any exterior defects.  Slice each potato in half.  Place halved potatoes in a gallon storage bag and pour in canola oil and salt.  Close top of bag and toss potatoes inside until evenly coated with oil and salt.  Place potatoes on upper grill rack (indirect heat).  If your grill has no upper rack, you can still do indirect heat by turning off the burner on one side and placing potatoes on the grill grate over the inactive burner.  If you used all burners to achieve your target temperature, you will need to turn up your other burner(s) after turning off the one you are cooking over.  Flip potatoes and rotate around cooking area of grill depending on the progress of your potatoes and the presence of hot spots - about every 8-9 minutes until nicely browned (about 34-40 minutes).

Remove from grill and serve while hot.

Food for Thought
These potatoes need no accoutrements but if you like, go for it.  Just keep it simple; barbecue sauce, ketchup (if you must) or even a little tangy dill mayo, or malt vinegar.  I have made these scores, nay hundreds of times and so believe me when I tell you, they require a bit of patience but they are worth it.  In the summer, they go great with your grilled steak, chicken or whatever.  They're best, however, when you feel the need to grill in the winter and have to sample a small morsel to see if they're done.  Ice cold weather, steaming hot potato.  The simple pleasures really are the best!