Before attending culinary school, my recipe repertoire was limited. I had my favorite pasta dishes, go to desserts, and always requested Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.
For me, what mattered most when cooking was that it was relatively simple and above all, satisfying.
Upon being accepted into The Culinary Institute of America, I soon realized that my limited repertoire was about to grow exponentially.
We were taught French cooking techniques, fine dining service and about cuisines from around the world.
Of the lessons, I imagined I would take away from school, one of the simplest, and often forgotten, is that cooking does not have to be complicated to impress.
Since graduation, I have adopted a new culinary philosophy. I have realized that making things from scratch does not have to be hard or time consuming. It also is extremely rewarding and a much healthier alternative.
As a culture, it is no secret we tend to overpay for convenience. We buy pre-made foods, when we could easily make the same meal from scratch for half the price.
Putting my new philosophy to work during this cold winter season, I have begun making my soups amongst other things from scratch.
There is nothing like a bowl of soup to warm you from the inside out. The majority of store-bought soups contain gluten filled thickeners and preservatives, and are high in sodium. Nothing compares to the taste of fresh vegetables in homemade chicken noodle soup. And not much beats freshly creamed soup hot off the stove.
With my soup kick in full swing, I decided to tackle a chili for our Super Bowl party, excuse the pun. Chilis seem easy enough to make, but balancing the right amount of spice, with the perfect texture and overall flavor is a tricky feat.
As with all of the recipes I write, I experiment a lot. Different kinds of meat, more or less peppers, etc.
After tasting this version of my finished chili, it has been decided that this will be a yearly staple at our Super Bowl party.
Not for the faint of heart, this bowl certainly packs some heat, but keeps everyone wanting more. As the old saying goes, "The key to a man's heart is through his stomach." So this Valentine's Day, forget the chocolate and oysters, it looks like I'll be making a huge pot of spicy chili!
Smoked chicken chorizo chili
Yields: 4-6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pound smoked chicken chorizo*
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 Serrano peppers, 1 seed in, both minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups good chicken stock
* Make sure to check all ingredients in your chorizo or sausage.
Many contain gluten in forms of fillers. The less ingredients, the better. If you are unsure, ask your butcher.
Also, I prefer the subtle smokiness peaking through from the smoked chorizo, but you can use regular chorizo if you'd rather.
-In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
-Remove smoked chorizo from its casing and fry in the oil, breaking into small pieces with the back of your spoon.
-Once your chorizo is cooked, remove and set aside.
-In the remaining fat, sweat your onions and Serrano pepper until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
-Once the trinity has cooked down, add the spices and cook for another 3 minutes.
-Once the onion mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add the rinsed pinto beans and diced tomatoes.
-Stir until they are all combined.
-Add chorizo back into the pot and cover with 2 cups of good chicken stock.
-Turn the heat down and allow the chili to simmer for about an hour or until the liquid is absorbed.
Serve while it is still hot with a slice of gluten free cornbread, a sprinkle of freshly grated cheddar and enjoy!
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager.
Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life.
Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.
Her goal is to make gluten-free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at email@example.com.
Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.