SoupBrrrrr Soup

I just returned home from the SoupBrrrrr soup contest in Forest River, N.D. I was one of three judges (along with Lynette Dickson and Liz Grzadzielewski) for the event, which was a kickoff fundraiser for the town’s 125th birthday celebration in 2012.

It’s a pleasure to take part in community events such as this. Just last weekend, I was among a group of 21 who judged the 25th  annual Harvey Avenue Saloon Bologna Cook-Off. And this past summer, I helped judge a rib fest in Oslo, Minn., and a soup contest in McVille, N.D.

There were about 20 entries in the soup contest, submitted by both men and women, featuring a wide variety of soup and stew flavors. The turnout at the Forest River American Legion/Community Center was pretty good. Besides the soup contest, there also was a bake sale. There were all kinds of homemade breads along with a lot of sweets.

Many of the soups we tried were excellent. In fact, when the judging was complete, there were about a half-dozen entries that scored within three points of each other. The soup was rated in three categories: appearance, taste and texture. We also took into account originality.

The winning soup, Chicken Wild Rice, was made by Emily Goodoien. Coming in second, one point behind, was Brian Schanilec’s Mushroom Beef Barley Soup. In third, just two points back, was Dorothy Morland’s Chicken Noodle, which featured homemade noodles.

Some cooks shared their recipes, but I wasn’t able to get any of the three winning recipes. Perhaps, the winners will share their recipes down the road. (Hint, hint.)

In the meantime, here is a recipe for Cream Of Chicken Wild Rice Soup that should hold readers over until then.

Cream Of Chicken Wild Rice Soup
1½ quarts water
1 small chicken, quartered
4 ounces dry chicken soup base
White pepper to taste
½ pound wild rice
4 ribs celery, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped into 3/8-inch cubes
1 quart
2 percent milk
4 ounces butter
4 ounces flour
In a large stockpot, put water, chicken, chicken base, white pepper and wild rice. Boil until chicken and rice are almost done. Remove chicken and add vegetables, cook until tender. De-bone the chicken and into small pieces and add to soup. Add milk. In another pan, melt butter on very low heat, then add flour to thicken. Add to soup and stir.
Yield: Serves 10 to 15.

Guilt-Free Coconut Shrimp

I’ve been on a bit of a shrimp kick lately. That’s because there have been some good deals on the tiny crustaceans at my neighborhood supermarket recently. So far, I’ve made a soup and a curry featuring shrimp. But I still have one bag left. So, when I came across the following recipe for coconut shrimp, my mind was made up.

Generally, coconut shrimp are deep-fried, but this recipe calls for them to made in the oven, which appeals to me because it will cut down on the calories, making it a good lean source of protein.

The recipe calls for brining the shrimp in a saltwater solution with sugar. This plumps them up, according to Susan Selasky, a food writer for the Detroit Free Press. After brining, Susan  rinses and removes the shells but leaves the tails on.

There are a few other twists to making the shrimp in the oven, but in the end, you’ll be able to eat them with a little less guilt.

Oven-Baked Coconut Shrimp
12 jumbo (6 to 8 count per pound) shrimp
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1½ cups panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
SWEET & SPICY DIPPING SAUCE:
½ cup Asian-style mild sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice or white vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
If desired, in a large bowl, mix 6 cups water with ¼ cup salt and ¼ cup sugar, swishing the mixture around to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the shrimp and soak about 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, combine the coconut, panko, Old Bay Seasoning, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and toast the mixture, stirring twice, until the coconut is slightly brown, the color of honey, about 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the coconut can easily burn. Remove from oven and set aside. You can toast the coconut/panko mixture several hours in advance.
When ready to make the shrimp, remove from the brine if necessary ; discard the brine and rinse the shrimp well under cold water.
Peel the shrimp, leaving the tail end intact. Devein the shrimp by cutting a small slit down the back side and removing the dark vein. Pat the shrimp dry.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
Have ready 3 pie plates or shallow dishes. Place the egg whites in one plate and whisk them until foamy. Place the flour or cornstarch in another and season with salt and pepper or favorite seasoning. Place the toasted coconut/panko mixture in the third dish .

Holding the shrimp by the tail, dredge it in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Dip it in the egg white and then dredge in the coconut/panko mixture, coating and patting the crumb mixture so it sticks. Place the shrimp on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes to set the coating.
In a small bowl, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients and set aside.
At baking time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tray of the shrimp from the freezer. Give each shrimp a little spritz of nonstick spray. Place in the oven and bake about 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and the coating is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve on a bed of mixed greens with the dipping sauce.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 3 shrimp with dipping sauce: 401 calories, 20 percent of calories from fat, 9 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 48 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 1,552 milligrams sodium, 172 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Spicy Shrimp Curry

A friend of mine, Bettye Salisbury, likes deep-fried shrimp. But don’t try give her any “naked”ones. That’s what she calls shrimp that aren’t deep-fried.

I’m a fan of deep-fried shrimp, too, but there a lot of other ways to prepare them that appeal to me. In Wednesday’s Grand Forks Herald, we had a recipe for Caribbean Shrimp Soup, which is very delicious. (See recipe at http:// www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)

Another way we had shrimp recently was in a spicy curry sauce. The recipe was adapted from one for a curry from Goa in the south of India in “American Masala,” by Suvir Saran. We served the curry over brown rice, but a basmati would work nicely, too.

Spicy Shrimp Curry
1 pound frozen, peeled raw shrimp, thawed
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon each: fresh ground black pepper, ground red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
SAUCE:
3 tablespoons canola oil
20 curry leaves, optional
4 small dried red chilies
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 piece (3 inches long) ginger root, peeled, minced
1 red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon each: turmeric, curry powder
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup chopped cilantro
Mix shrimp, salt, pepper, red pepper and lemon juice in a food storage bag; toss to coat. Refrigerate.
For sauce, heat oil, curry leaves and chilies in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling, 1 minute. Add pepper, ginger, onion and salt; cook, stirring and sprinkling with a little water to keep from sticking if necessary, until onion is golden, 5 minutes.
Add garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium; add tomatoes. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add coconut milk; heat to a boil. Add shrimp and its juices. Heat until shrimp are cooked through and pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
Yield: Serve: 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 322 calories, 64 percent of calories from fat, 24 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams protein, 1,103 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Mac, Ham and Cheese Hotdish

I would like to be in U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s office today. The Democrat is holding a friendly hotdish contest for several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, which will include Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, Franken and four other Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Keith Ellison.

The hotdish judges include a Republican and a Democrat. Former Reps. Vin Weber, a Republican, and Gerry Sikorski, a Democrat, will render culinary opinions, according to a story from The Associated Press.

Most people I know are pretty familiar with hotdishes. We grew up with them. (People from other parts of the country call them casseroles.) You can’t go to a funeral reception or any kind of potluck around here without at least one of the many varieties of the popular comfort food being served.

My mom at least once a week made a hamburger hotdish when I was a kid. All she did was brown some burger with a chopped-up onion, add a can of Campbell’s vegetable soup, some cooked macaroni and pop it in the oven.

I still have hotdish once every week or two. Therese’s hotdish is pretty similar to my mom’s, but she uses a can of tomato soup and one of green beans to round out her creation. It’s one of my grandchildren’s favorite meals.

There are, as I mentioned, many kinds of hotdishes. Another one I like a lot is made with tater tots. Then, there’s one that features chow mein noodles that is pretty tasty. Macaroni and cheese is another.

Here is a mac, cheese and ham hotdish recipe that I recently came across that would be a nice meal on a cold winter day.

Mac, Cheese and Ham Hotdish
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (whole or low-fat, not fat-free)
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, finely grated
1 pound. ham, chopped (smoked, wet-cured)
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and squeezed for any excess moisture
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mango chutney
1 tablespoon minced tarragon leaves or 1½ teaspoons dried tarragon
12 ounces dried ziti, cooked and drained according to package directions
1 ounce. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Position the rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then whisk occasionally over the heat just until the mixture is bubbling and a very pale beige, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the milk and continue whisking over the heat until thickened, about 4 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in the Gruyere, ham, artichoke hearts, mustard, chutney and tarragon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cooked ziti.
Pour the contents of the pan into a 3-quart casserole dish (greased or prepared with nonstick spray), or even a 9-by-13-inch baking dish if you like more of the top exposed to the heat and many more crunchy bits as a result.
Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the casserole and bake until brown and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 6.

Bake ‘Em Twice

Potatoes are a pretty versatile vegetable. That’s one of the reasons I really like them.

My favorite way to have them is mashed. I guess that’s because my mom made that variety a lot when we were growing up. But I have nothing against the other ways to fix potatoes. Granted, I didn’t like scalloped potato too much as a kid, but now they are one of my favorites.

But I think No. 2 on my list of way to fix potatoes is baked. And twice-baked ones are among the best.

Here are a few recipes for twice-baked spuds from the U.S. Potato Board. Each one of the variations will supply you with almost half your daily value of vitamin C, more potassium than a banana per serving and only 180 calories.  It’s  perfect for those who want to get the most out of their meals to help build immunity during cold and flu season. And it’s easy to adapt the basic recipe to fit your favorite flavor profile or a vegetarian diet using one of the variations.

Quick & Healthy Twice-Baked Potatoes
2 teaspoons heart-healthy butter spread
1 cup chopped onion
4 5- to 6-ounce russet potatoes
½ cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt spread in a medium skillet. Add onion and cook over medium heat in a skillet for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. While onions are cooking, place potatoes in a medium microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make a small slit to vent, then microwave on high for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft when gently squeezed. Let cool slightly, then cut in half and carefully scoop out potato leaving a ¼-inch shell. Mash potatoes, then stir in cooked onion, yogurt, garlic salt and pepper. Place potato skins on a baking sheet and fill with mashed potato mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (two halves): 180 calories, no cholesterol, 260 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fat, 838 milligram potassium, 37 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 5 grams protein.

Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Twice-Baked Potatoes
Replace the cup of chopped onion with 1 quartered and sliced large onion. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in ¼ cup diced pancetta and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes more or until onions are soft and golden brown. Add ½ cup shredded Gouda cheese, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon dried sage to mashed potato mixture and spoon into potato skins. Bake as directed above.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (two halves): 250 calories, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 500 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), 851 milligram potassium, 37 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams protein.

Chipotle Chayote Twice- Baked Potatoes
Cook ¼ cup each: black beans, fresh or frozen corn and diced chayote or zucchini squash with onions. Stir into mashed potato mixture with ½ cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese and 1/3 cup chipotle salsa and spoon into potato skins. Bake as directed above and top with avocado slices and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (two halves): 250 calories, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 530 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated),898 milligram potassium, 43 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein.
Mediterranean Hummus Twice-Baked Potatoes
Stir ½ cup prepared hummus, 1/3 cup diced roasted red bell peppers and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika into mashed potato mixture and spoon into potato skins. Bake as directed above and top with slivered Kalamata olives, if desired.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (two halves): 240 calories,no cholesterol,440 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 915 milligram potassium, 43 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 8 grams protein.

Spinach, Cheddar, Bacon and Egg Twice-Baked Potatoes
Stir 1 cup chopped fresh spinach, ½ cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese and ¼ cup real bacon pieces into mashed potato mixture and spoon into potato skins. Bake as directed above and top each serving with a fried egg.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (two halves): 320 calories, 230 milligrams cholesterol, 680 milligrams sodium, 11 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 919 milligram potassium, 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 18 grams protein.

Italian Sausage Minestrone

There aren’t many kinds of sausage that I don’ like. I could probably count them on one hand. That’s why I’m once again really looking forward to being one of the judges at the annual Harvey Avenue Saloon’s Bologna Cook-Off.

Tonight’s the night of the contest, so I’m taking it easy eating the rest of the day. (There are supposed to be about 100 entries.) But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about food.

As I recently mentioned, when the temps get below zero, soup is my No. 1 option for supper. One that I’ve been pondering is an Italian minestrone, which contains sausage. Minestrone is a thick soup that usually is hearty enough for a complete meal. Beside sausage, the soup contains green beans and tomatoes.

Italian Sausage Minestrone
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ pound Italian sausage
1 cup frozen diced onion
1 cup sliced green beans (1-inch pieces)
1 medium tomato, diced (1 cup)
2 cups fat-free, low-salt chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup packed, fresh, ready-to-eat spinach
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup acini pepe pasta
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Slice the sausage and add to the pan with the onion and green beans. Saute 5 minutes. Do not brown the vegetables.
Add the tomato and broth. (It should cover the vegetables; add water, if needed.) Bring to a simmer and cover partially with a lid, leaving space for steam to escape. Simmer 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach and basil. Set aside for a minute or two.
While soup cooks, bring 2 to 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and boil 8 minutes, until cooked al dente. Drain.
Spoon pasta into bowls and ladle soup on top. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and pecans.
Yield: Serves 2.

White Chili Soup

There’s no doubt this is soup weather. The temperature is 10 below zero and falling. It’s expected to get down to minus 19 tonight. And that doesn’t take into account wind chill.

I’ve already made soup three times this week. The first was a pasta and bean soup that also contained cabbage, tomatoes and kale. Then came my favorite, Czechoslovakian Cabbage. Today, I made some soup for Therese to take to school Friday.

The White Chili Soup recipe that I used for the Lake Agassiz Elementary School teachers’ potluck came from a cookbook called “Sensibly Thin.” Subtitled “Low-Fat Living and Cooking, Volume II,” the cookbook is the creation of Sam Eukel of Fargo.

I’ve had the cookbook for more than a dozen years and have tried several of the recipes. The White Chili Soup recipe is one of my favorites.

I did tweak the recipe a bit this most-recent time. I substituted pheasant dark meat (legs and thighs) for chicken and also used an extra can of fat-free evaporated milk and a little more broth. The result wasn’t disappointing.

Here is the original recipe. If you try it, you won’t be disappointed, either.
White Chili Soup
½ cup green onion, sliced
1 12-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
2 cups cooked chicken breast, cooked
2 16-ounce can navy beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, crushed
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
Green chilies to taste
Microwave garlic and green onion for 3 minutes on high; set aside.
In large kettle, combine all ingredients, except cornstarch. Simmer over medium heat until hot.
Mix cornstarch with cold water and slowly add to chili until thickened, stirring constantly.
Garnish with chopped onion, fat-free sour cream and jalapenos.
Yield: Serves 6 (1½ cup servings).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 430 calories, 263 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fat; 8 percent of calories from fat.

Creamy Chicken and Rigatoni

I like to have a plan for supper. Most of the time, I have my mind made up well before it’s time to start fixing something. Of course, there are days when I struggle to figure out what we’ll have.

But then on the other hand, there are those times, like yesterday, when I had to make a choice between two recipes. One of them — Penne with Smoked Bologna — was featured on the Herald food page today (www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/190510/). I do have some ring elk sausage (bologna) in the freezer, but it hasn’t been smoked, so I turned to my second choice, something called Creamy Chicken and Rigatoni.

I found the recipe at the Betty Crocker website. It was just what I wanted, since we had were six cooked pheasant legs and thighs awaiting a recipe in the refrigerator. And more than 100 people had commented on the recipe favorably.

I substituted some pheasant for the chicken in the following recipe as well as using frozen vegetables that contained carrots and water chestnuts besides the red pepper, mushrooms, broccoli and onion. Another change I made was to use only 1 cup of half-and-half and 1 cup of skim milk instead of 2 cups of heavy cream.

You can add me to the list of those satisfied with the recipe.

Creamy Chicken and Rigatoni
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 14½-ounce cans diced tomatoes, well drained
2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
2½ cups rigatoni pasta (8 ounces)
1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli, red pepper, onions and mushrooms, thawed and well-drained
Shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, garlic, basil and oregano in oil about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink in center.
Stir in tomatoes, whipping cream, salt, pepper and red pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Cook and drain rigatoni as directed on package. Stir rigatoni and vegetables into chicken mixture; cook until hot. Serve with cheese.

Hickory-Smoked Baby Back Pork Ribs

Baby back ribs probably is my favorite cut of pork. I’ve often fixed them with homemade sauerkraut and at times slow-cooked them with my favorite barbecue sauce. One way I haven’t tried them is in the smoker.

I’ve smoked numerous things, including salmon, pheasant, turkey, elk and venison, and I’ve never been disappointed with the results. Now, I think it’s time to try the ribs.

I haven’t smoked anything lately because it’s been so cold. But once the temperatures moderate, I’m going to give this recipe a try. It was deemed one of the top ones for 2010 by the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen. The recipe calls for using a stove-top smoker, but I assume one such as my Masterbuilt will work, too. Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter also found out that a heavy-duty roasting pan, a rack and a lid works.

Hickory-Smoked Baby Back Ribs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon New Mexico chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
¼ cup brown sugar
1 rack (2 to 2½ pounds) baby back ribs
Small hardwood hickory chips
¼ cup distilled vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup Dijon mustard
In a medium bowl, whisk together the kosher salt, celery salt, black pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, New Mexico chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, sweet paprika and brown sugar. This makes about 1 cup dry rub, more than you’ll need for the ribs. Place the rub in an airtight container and store in a cool place away from direct sunlight; it will keep for about 2 months before the flavor starts to fade.
Peel the silverskin from the rib rack (the membrane on the underside of the rack). Rinse the rack under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
Drizzle a small handful of rub evenly over each side of the rack to give it a good coating; the surface of the ribs should be tacky, and the rub should adhere easily. Pat on the rub to make sure the ribs are entirely covered, and gently shake to remove any excess. Place the ribs on a rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, prepare the smoker: Spread about 3 tablespoons wood chips in the center of the base of the smoker, directly over the burner. Place the drip pan (if using) over the chips, and a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the ribs in the center of the rack and cover with the lid, leaving the smoker open only a couple of inches. (Halve the rack if the whole rack won’t fit, and smoke half at a time.)
Heat the smoker over medium heat just until you see smoke escaping through the opening. Close the smoker entirely and gently smoke for 1 hour. Depending on your stove, you may want to reduce the heat to medium-low so the ribs do not cook too quickly, or they will be tough.
Shortly before the ribs are done smoking, heat the oven to 250 degrees. In a measuring cup, combine the vinegar, water and Dijon mustard, along with 2 tablespoons of the rub and whisk together to form a mop.
Place the smoked ribs in a baking dish and drizzle with the mop (pour over half the mop if smoking in two batches). Cover the ribs tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the meat is tender (you will know they’re done when you bend the rack and the meat easily pulls away from the bone), about 1 hour more. For a crackly surface, uncover the baking dish and place the ribs under the broiler just until the surface crisps.
If smoking the rack in two batches: While the first half-rack bakes in the oven, smoke the second rack in the same manner as the first, using new wood chips (the first batch of wood chips should be reduced mostly to ash and can be washed down the sink; if they’re too big, cool them completely before throwing away). Bake the second rack after smoking.
Serve the ribs warm.
Yield: Serve: 4.
Note: This recipe calls for a commercial stove-top smoker; a heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack and lid can be substituted. This recipe uses small hardwood hickory chips; the chips are available at select cooking stores and are widely available online.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 468 calories, 28 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates 1 gram fiber, 34 grams fat (13 grams saturated) fat, 134 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams sugar, 1,015 milligrams sodium.

Chorizo Chili

It’s snowing as I sit at in front of my computer, looking out the window, contemplating what to cook. I can’ think of anything better to fix than chili on a day like this.

It’s been awhile since I’ve made chili. My specialty is something called 10-Alarm Chili, but I’m going to try something new today. With a package of Cacique USA chorizo sausage in the refrigerator that needs to be used, I’m going Mexican.

The recipe that I’ve decided to try is from Doug McMillen, who is the executive chef at Norma Jean’s, located in the Danielle Hotel in St. Louis. I came across the recipe at a website that’s at my disposal as food editor at the Herald. Among the other ingredients in the chili are a couple of different peppers, sweet red bells and chipotles, as well as the other usual ingredients you would find such as tomatoes, onion, cumin and beans.

There are two things that I really like about the chili. One is the topping that you put on it, which is comprised of sour cream, cilantro and green onions. The other: The chili can be on the table in about an hour.

Mexican Sausage Chili
½ pound uncooked chorizo sausage
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 whole canned chipotle peppers, seeded and finely diced
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder or less to taste
½ tablespoon ground black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
2 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup canned chili beans in sauce
1 cup canned beef broth
½ cup sour cream
½ bunch green onions, finely diced
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Brown sausage in a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are soft but have not begun to brown, about 10 minutes. Add chipotle peppers, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, salt, tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
While chili is simmering, mix sour cream, green onions and cilantro in a small bowl; chill until soup is ready. Serve chili in bowls, topped with spoonfuls of the sour cream mixture on top.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 369 calories, 20.5grams fat (8.5 grams saturated), 50 percent of calories from fat, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 16.5 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams sugar, 8.5 grams fiber, 1,999 milligrams sodium, 149 milligrams calcium, 443 milligrams potassium.