Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Birth of the Chili Log

Did you know there is an International Chili Society? Me either. But they seem like the people to turn to when you find yourself wondering where chili got its start. Silly me to think there would be an easy answer; it appears chili has quite the tall tale attached to it, much of which remains up for debate and cause for banter to this day. . . I can't help picturing what happy hour at the World's Greatest Chili Cook-Off must be like. . . I have a feeling things get pretty heated (pun totally intended). Anyway, the history of chili as cataloged on the ICS website is lengthy and can be found here. It's exact origins cannot be agreed upon though they do explain that the quest for "greatest bowl of chili" probably started the moment the second person on earth mixed together their peppers, beans and beef and claimed it best in the land. Who knows! One thing is for certain though, it did not originate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! And yet here I am mixing up and taking about the spicy stuff with just as much adoration as those who enjoyed it thousands of years ago. Ain't that the beauty of widespread cultural influence! The cool thing about chili is that since it's creation, whenever that was, it has partnered up quite successfully with some pretty popular palate pleasures, including hot dogs, burgers, macaroni, french fries, tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream (to name a few). And now, most appropriate for the fall season, it has teamed up in the LVO kitchen with the wonderful flavorful autumnal delicata squash.


I'm pretty excited about this recipe because I sort of stumbled upon the idea and it ended up being insanely delicious, so I can't wait for you to try it out and report back! Before we get to the recipe though, let's travel back in time down chili lane. Here is a spark-notes version of chili's history - complete with some of my favorite bits and pieces right from the experts themselves:

  • From the time the second person on earth mixed some chile peppers with meat and cooked them, the great chili debate was on; more of a war, in fact. The desire to brew up the best bowl of chili in the world is exactly that old.
  • The mixture of meat, beans, peppers, and herbs was known to the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayan Indians long before Columbus and the conquistadores.
  • Chile peppers were used in Cervantes's Spain and show up in great ancient cuisines of China, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Caribbean, France, and the Arab states.
  • Don Juan de Onate entered what is now New Mexico in 1598 and brought with him the green chile pepper. It has grown there for the nearly four hundred years since.
  • Canary Islanders, transplanted in San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers, wild onions, garlic, and other spices to concoct pungent meat dishes - improvising upon ones they had cooked for generations in their native land, where the chile pepper also grew.
  •  Frank and Jesse James fell prey to its taste and are said to have eaten a few bowls of "red" before pulling many of their bank jobs. At least one town, it is noted, was spared from their shooting and looting by the local chili parlor.
  • Pat Garrett is supposed to have said of William Bonney - Billy the Kid: "Anybody that eats chili cant' be all bad."
  • Chili buffs in San Antonio - and in most of Texas, for that matter - say the stuff called "chili" was invented there, probably by "Chili Queens," women who dotted the Military Plaza and sold highly seasoned brews called "chili" from rudimentary carts, all through the night, to a cadre of customers who rode in from all over the prairies to singe their tonsils.
  •  By the depression years, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor, even if it was nothing more than a hole-in-the-wall place with half-a-dozen bar stools in front of the linoleum-topped counter. To many a wandering work-seeker in those depression days, the wayside chili shack meant the difference between starvation and staying alive. Chili was cheap and crackers were free.
  • In 1977, a bill was introduced in the Texas legislature to designate chili as the official state dish.
  • In 1976, in California, Rufus (Rudy) Valdez, a full-blooded Ute Indian, won the world chili championship, using what he claimed to be a two thousand-year-old recipe.
  • Valdez says he got his recipe from his grandmother when he was a boy on the Ute reservation near Ignacio, Colorado. She lived to the age of 102 and Valdez says she credited her longevity and that of her relatives to the powers of chili. Actually, he says, chili was invented by the Pueblo cliff dwellers in Mesa Verde who passed it on to the Navajos before it became popular with the Utes.

I've had two small-medium organic delicata squash hanging out in the kitchen for the past week, not really knowing what to do with them. I also had a pound of grass-fed ground bison meat. I had a feeling these two were going to end up together but couldn't figure out how. I've seen some recipes out there that just stuff the squash with ground beef or chop them up together, but I'm not one to just eat ground meat as it is, I don't know why, it just doesn't appeal to me. Then I was on Pinterest and scrolled past a picture of chili and my mouth started drooling and my brain gears started turning. The result: chili-stuffed delicata squash, which Jon and I playfully named "Chili Logs"... (can't say it without laughing). THEN I started thinking about chili DOGS which made me think of summer which made me think of yummy slaws and I just so happened to have a head of organic cabbage so - Boom! - I made a carrot-apple-cabbage slaw with a citrus vinaigrette on the side! And a masterpiece was born.

This meal is super duper easy and super duper healthy. I make my chili with bison meat. Bison is protected from the unnatural feeding methods used today, including hormones and antibiotics. I find comfort in this and trust the grass-fed bison sources that I have. Whole Foods Markets also carry a great selection if you don't have a local source. Chile, cayenne and bell pepper, all primary players in chili, contain a punch of Vitamin C as well as the naturally occurring chemical, capsaicin (this is what gives a pepper its heat!), which has been shown to kill cancer cells, reduce cellular inflammation, prevent sinus infections and even aid in some gastric issues. (Chili is also a really awesome way to get veggie-nay-sayers to eat up.) Delicata squash, along with other winter squashes, are packed with important antioxidants, and have been recognized as an important type of starchy vegetable that has anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating qualities that really make it stand out amongst the more commonly consumed starchy veggies. BONUS: squash's origins are also traced back to the Guatemalan / Mexican areas making it sort of a fitting pair for our chili dish! As for the slaw, it is important to have some raw food in your diet, ideally at every meal. Slaw is a great way to mix it up and get your raw veggies without having the same boring salad again for the 4th day in a row. Cabbage is rich in fiber, vitamin-C, sulphur and antioxidants. The apples are a great detox food because they are packed with pectin which removes toxic build up from the body and glucaric acid which gets rid of those nasty estrogen-like-chemicals and heavy metals. Carrots are a beta-carotene powerhouse, the precursor to Vitamin A, which is known to help the liver remove toxins, prevent premature aging and promote strong vision. This meal is colorful, boasting a palette or greens, reds, oranges, purples (if you use purple cabbage), and yellow. This spectrum of colors = a spectrum of nutrients that is essential for making sure your body has all the types of fuel it needs to work hard, keep you strong, healthy, happy and at your ideal weight!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. A really great thing about this one is there's plenty of chili leftover after filling the "logs", so you can have it for lunch the next day, mix with scrambled eggs for breakfast, serve over some homemade "nachos" - or whatever your little healthy heart desires! 

Now, we eat.

Chili Logs
& Apple Carrot Slaw


    1. Ingredients 

      • Ingredients for Chili Logs:
      • 2 Small-Medium Organic Delicata Squash
      • 1 Pound Ground Bison
      • 1 Orange Organic Bell Pepper
      • 1 Green Organica Bell Pepper
      • 1/2 Red Onion
      • 1 Can Red Organic Kidney Beans, No Salt Added, Soaked
      • 1 Small Can of Fire Roasted Organic Diced Tomatoes
      • 1/2 Small Can of Organic Totamto Sauce (just tomato in the ingredient list)
      • 1 Tbsp OrganicTomato Paste
      • 1 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
      • Chili Powder
      • Cinnamon
      • Paprika
      • Cayenne Pepper
      • Cayenne Pepper Sauce
      • High Quality Salt
      • Black Pepper
      • Raw Organic Cheddar Cheese (optional)
      • Organic Sour Cream (optional)
      • 1/4 Avocado, diced (optional)
      • Ingredients for Apple Carrot Slaw:
      • 1 Large Organic Apple ( I used Honey Crisp), peel on, finely sliced into tiny strips
      • 4 Organic Carrots, peels and finely sliced longways
      • 1 Small-Medium Head of Organic Cabbage, Shredded
      • Lemon Juice
      • Lime Juice
      • Apple Cider Vinegar
      • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      • High Quality Salt
      • Black Pepper
    2. Instructions 

      1. Cut your squash in half longways, remove seeds.
      2. Brush insides with melted coconut oil and dust with salt and pepper
      3. Bake in oven at 350 for 25-35 minutes (depending on size of your squash)
      4. Melt Coconut Oil over medium head in pot.
      5. Add Peppers and Onion, soften.
      6. Add bison meat, cook until brown.
      7. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and kidney beans, stir well.
      8. Add a couple shakes of cayenne pepper sauce
      9. Add spices to preferred taste (I like mine extra spicy, so I'm gonna leave these up to you)
      10. Reduce heat and let simmer
      11. While that is simmering, combine your sliced and shredded apple, cabbage and carrots to a large mixing bowl.
      12. In a mason jar combine 1/3 Cup apple cider vinegar, 3 Tbsp olive oil, Juice of 1/2 Lemon, Juice of 1/2 Lime, Salt and Pepper. Shake vigorously.
      13. Pour mixture into bowl and toss.
      14. Let sit in the fridge until meal is ready. (allows the flavors to really soak up)
      15. When the squash is turning bright in color and soft in texture, remove from oven.
      16. Spoon chili into the squash.
      17. Shred raw organic cheese over the top if you wish and return to over for 15 minutes.
      18. Remove from oven and top with your favorite mixins: sour cream, avocado, red onion
      19. Serve with slaw.





Let us know what you think in the comment section below & as always, Keep it Real,
LVO

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