Thursday, January 27, 2011


Some guys gear up for the game, some for the commercials. I’m putting my money on the food, the manly kind you only serve when eating rises to a contact sport. “lbs” be damned, the whole point is how much, how hot, and how compelling the taste.  Here’s what we do to pump up our guts to stretch pants proportions:

Let’s start with the chili. It’s best if you cook this slowly for several hours the day before and then reheat it before the couch potatoes arrive.
Here are the ingredients:
3 cups (more or less) of diced yellow or white onions, a mix of yellow and white is fine
1 teaspoon of sea salt and 3 cloves of garlic for a paste
2 tablespoons of curry powder
1/4 cup of olive oil
About 2 –3 tablespoons of chili powder (this should be done to taste)
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 lb chorizos or sausages sliced
4 large cans (the 28 to 35 ounce size) of tomatoes, whole or diced
2 large cans of red kidney beans drained and rinsed
I large can of black beans also drained and rinsed

A handful of cilantro
1 bunch of chopped scallions
A bowl of shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese
1 diced red bell pepper
1 pint of sour cream

Start out by making a paste out of the sea salt and garlic cloves. You should do this in a mortar and pestle but if you don’t have one you can use a ceramic bowl and a smooth rock wrapped in gauze to form a handle or grip. Once the paste has been pummeled into perfection, put it aside.
Now heat up your frying pan and add the olive oil. Sautee your diced onions with the curry powder until they become limp. Add the garlic paste, mix, sauté a few minutes more and then remove the seasoned onions from the pan. Now don’t clean the pan but start to add your meat while the pan is hot and brown the beef, pork and sausages of choice. You should have already sliced the sausages, don’t put them in whole. This should be done in batches or the meat won’t brown it will just steam. When the meat is browned add the seasoned onions back into the pan. Salt and pepper to taste.
Dump in the tomatoes and beans. I always forget to do the draining and rinsing before hand so I’m always running backwards getting this done when I should have thought to do it before I got to this step. If you forgot, like me, then go back and drain and rinse. It won’t throw the timing off; it’s just a nuisance. Mix the meat, onion, beans and tomatoes together. You can add cilantro if you like the flavor. Some do, some don’t. Cook on a low heat for two to three hours stirring occasionally. If the consistency becomes too thick you can add some beef broth, a little red wine or just dump in a bottle of Leinenkugel (beer). Let the chili rest before serving. It’s always better when served the following day but I usually can’t wait. Serve in big oversized bowls with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions and some diced bell pepper.

On a scale of one to ten this is a ten fart chili

Now for the cornbread and parsley lime butter.
Without these our chili is like a quarterback without a pro-bowl wide receiver and this cornbread is a real superstar.

Cornbread ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of yellow, stone ground, whole germ cornmeal
1 level tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Ground black pepper, 12 to 15 turns
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of chopped scallion
1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper
Heaping handful of mozzarella
Heaping handful of mixed cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses,
3 beaten eggs
Enough buttermilk to give the mix the consistency of a dry cake batter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of corn oil

Parsley lime butter ingredients:
Handful of chopped parsley
1 stick of softened butter
1/2 lime
Sea salt to taste if butter is unsalted
1/4 cup softened cream cheese

We’ll start with the cornbread. The one thing that’ll really make your cornbread score a touchdown is the skillet. A well seasoned, 12” black cast-iron skillet is the best. We’ve worked over twenty years on our skillet and it is now seasoned to perfection. The longer you work on this the better flavor it imparts to your food and the easier the cornbread will slip out when it is done. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the twenty year-old skillet, use your less seasoned one or go to your local kitchen supply store and start seasoning, everyone has to start somewhere. The next step should be to turn your oven up to 400 degrees. Let the oven heat while you mix your ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper and baking soda together and stir. Then add the scallions, bell pepper and stir again before adding the cheeses. After you have mixed this together, add the beaten eggs, and then start adding the buttermilk until the whole mixture comes to the consistency of a dry cake batter. When you have achieved the perfect consistency start to get your skillet ready. Add the oil to the skillet and heat until the skillet starts to smoke. 

Add the batter and let it fry for a few seconds then pop the whole thing into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top has turned a golden brown. Pull the skillet out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes then take a plate that has a larger diameter than your skillet. Place the dish on top of the skillet and flip the whole thing over. This can take practice and the benefits of a well-seasoned skillet. If it doesn’t come out and you end up with pieces, don’t worry. It’s finger food and tastes the same in man sized hunks as it does in perfect slices.

In a small bowl mix together your softened butter, parsley, salt and cream cheese. Then squeeze in the juice of half a lime and mix again. Place this next to your cornbread and back off. The meal is done and the mess has only just begun, but be prepared to do a repeat on the cornbread. One 12” cornbread at our table always ends with cries for another as the crowd roars and you start doing an end zone dance.

Man cave
A room or space equipped with the essentials that make hair grow on your chest, squirt cheese taste good and the smell of dirty socks seem more appealing than a bouquet of lavender. (Also referred to as a mantuary)

What with all the testosterone flying around this week I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time roaming the internet trying to figure out what makes a man a man and then where I fit on the spectrum of true manliness. 

Clearly, this week, in anticipation of Super Bowl XLV I’ve amazed myself with my dedication to listening to every smashmouth word uttered on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning. I race to get the morning paper here in Packerland and read every article on Aaron Rogers and the defensive line of cheeseheads. I’ve done everything but make Rick give me the garage and let me park the car on the street so I can create my very own rendition of the mancave. I’ve looked at many a rendition of the god-awful basement conversions, walls painted in appropriate team colors, mini-tiki bars stocked with beer and hard liquor, fur rugs, a massive TV, and the essential Barcalounger covered in the ugliest naugahyde imaginable. Here’s where I start to slide the arrow down on my manliness meter as I realize I’m no match for the diehard cavers. As much as I’ve invested in the outcome of the Super Bowl I tend to do my rooting from the comfort of a Barbara Barry armchair covered in a beautiful soft teal chenille with a low-fat, Java Chip frappuccino (hold the whip cream but add a little mocha drizzle). I’m aware I’m more likely to fit in a cave like the one below with the vintage Mercedes parked inside. 

My manly meter took a real dip toward sissy when I started evaluating the status quo here in Madison, a city of frozen lakes, where the real men go out on the ice well before the sun rises drilling holes in the frozen waters and sitting for hours bobbing a line up and down in twenty degrees below zero weather. I wasn’t even close to competing with these guys. 

Then I saw an ad for Lake Geneva’s Bella Vista Suites “Ice Fishing Shanty Package”. According to their promotional material you’ll be treated to a heated shanty complete with a silver bucket filled with champagne and a catered lunch. Shanty staff will come and take care of the manual labor boring the hole through the ice. An ice fishing expert can be hired for an additional $35 for the six hour session to sit with you and explain the equipment, close up your bored hole at the end of the session and clean your catch should you actual hook something. Here’s the link: I know I’m not the only who thinks this is the smarter way to put hair on your chest. I think I’ll stick to watching my Packers in the comfort of my Barbara Barry, the scent of a burning Lafco Feu de Bois candle spreading the scent of a cedar log as I give a tempered, “rah rah” as my Packers beat the tar out of those towel waving Steelers.


Elmer Kroese, 2006

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