Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 20 - Outdoorsman

I wasn't thrilled about the Week 20 outdoorsman theme. I think when it originally came out, it also mentioned camping and foraging in the title, which didn't make me any more excited, as I am not into camping (ugh, bugs) and have never been foraging. The official intro thread for the theme mentioned that this was about "connecting with the types of foods and cooking you wouldn't normally encounter in places like supermarkets and restaurants." Some of their suggestions included catching dinner out on the lake or buying exotic game meat or cooking over an open fire. None of those were happening here either.

We live in an apartment in the middle of the city and don't have a balcony or even a communal area where you could grill outside if you wanted to. The closest waterway is the Hudson River, and not only do I not know how to fish, but I would never fish there. I don't really cook red meat at home, so some sort of exotic meat wasn't going to happen. And all of our ingredients were going to come from the supermarket. I decided in the end to go with a recipe by Kenji for campfire chili in a Dutch oven, but with some adjustments for both convenience (in terms of ingredients) and cooking method (since the Dutch oven wasn't going to get covered with hot coals on our stove). The original recipe was cooked over a campfire, so that was good enough for me.

The ingredients for the chili, as adapted for our apartment stove and our convenience ingredients were:

- 1 lb ground turkey ($4.30)
- 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.20)
- 1 onion, finely chopped ($0.50)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped ($0.09)
- a few tbsp (didn't measure) chili powder ($0.85)
- about 1 tbsp cumin ($0.10)
- about 1 tbsp dried oregano ($0.10)
- about 1/2 cup of cilantro, finely chopped, divided ($0.50)
- 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed ($1.78)
- 1 can diced tomatoes ($0.80)
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles ($0.69)
- salt to taste ($0.03)
- 10 scallions, chopped ($0.86)

The main differences between our chili and the original were: (a) using canned beans instead of dried (just easier and faster, even if dried would have tasted better), (b) using ground turkey instead of pounds of pork shoulder and sausage (we already had the turkey and I didn't want to make a separate trip to the meat market), and (c) going with diced tomatoes instead of crushed (mostly because we have Costco cases of diced). It probably came out a little bit cheaper because of those changes, approximately $10.80 for the total, which was a pretty good price for a big pot of chili.

The steps for making the chili were:

1. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, breaking apart as it cooks.

2. Add onions, jalapeño, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1/2 of the cilantro. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until onions are softened.

3. Add beans, diced tomatoes, salt, and about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to allow chili to simmer. (I also covered it with the lid about 90%.)

4. Simmer for about 30 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in scallions and the other half of the cilantro.

The chili was pretty good. It probably would have been better with some sour cream, but if you're going to make this chili over a campfire, it seems unlikely that you'd bring along a container of sour cream into the forest. The flavors were good, although in the future I might add a little bit more of each of the seasonings (other than salt). We would make this again.

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