Creamy White Bean Chili

If I were the kind of person who threw Super Bowl parties or, you know, owned a TV on which to watch the Super Bowl, I would make this chili. Maybe it wouldn’t be great on a chili-cheese dog or in Frito pie, but it’s hearty and spicy and rich.

In this recipe, the half of the beans and vegetables are pureed after cooking, giving the chili a bisque-like quality. The white beans, cream, and herbs offer richness, which is balanced by the zesty spiciness of the sausage. On second thought, maybe this would make an excellent alternative chili-cheese dog with a jalapeno-chicken sausage and Monterrey-Jack cheese.

Creamy White Bean Chili
Serves 6-8

To prepare the beans:
1 pound dried white beans
8 cups water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary

To quick-soak the beans, place the dry beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Drain.

Return the drained beans to the pot and add 8 cups of water along with the garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary. Simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 to 1½ hours. Drain, but reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid to use in the soup.

To cook the soup:
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 cups broth
2 cups bean cooking liquid
1 pound chorizo
¼ cup whipping cream

Saute the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil until tender. Add thyme, beans, 2 cups of broth, and 2 cups of bean cooking liquid to pot. Simmer to combine flavors, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, crumble and cook the chorizo. Drain and set aside. Remove about half of the cooked beans and vegetables from the pot and set aside with the sausage.

Working in batches, puree the other half of the cooked beans and vegetables in a food processor. If you want a thicker soup, use a slotted spoon to remove the beans and vegetables from the cooking liquid. Whatever thickness you want, just be careful not to add too much liquid to the food processor at a time. The liquid tends to spray out of the lid. Most processors have a “liquid fill line,” but a good rule of thumb is to only fill the liquid to the top of the blade.

Combine the pureed mixture with the whole beans vegetables, sausage, and cream. Warm on the stove over a low heat.

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Real Green Bean Casserole

I have never been asked to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, but I am so certain the day will come that I’ve already started preparing for it. I am a firm traditionalist, so I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without green bean casserole. The only problem is that I don’t really like canned green beans swimming in cream of mushroom soup, so I was very excited to find this recipe for Real Green Bean Casserole.

Real should not be misconstrued as healthy. I am a firm believer that anything from scratch is better for you than something from a can, but I have a hard time making that argument in this case. Sure there are three pounds of fresh vegetables, but the butter, cream, and fried onion rings kind of cancel that out. It certainly doesn’t taste healthy.

The flavor was surprisingly similar to traditional green bean casserole — salty and earthy. The biggest difference was in the texture — the green beans were firmer, the creamed mushrooms thicker, and the onions crispier. Instead of having a lumpy, soupy mess on my plate, I had a chunky, sludgy mess. As it turns out, I just don’t like green bean casserole, even if it is real.

For the record, I think this is a good recipe with good results. I highly recommend it for green bean casserole gurus.

Party Food I: Pork Meatballs with Yogurt Dressing

According to photographic evidence, I have eaten exactly four proper meals since Thanksgiving. My kitchen time has been dominated by party food and Christmas baking and the rest of my time has been dominated by Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, party going, novel reading, movie watching. All that has left me eating party mix for dinner most nights, which is nothing to complain about.

In returning to The Food Processor, I think we should start at the beginning, or somewhere close to there. After Thanksgiving, Glenn and I cohosted a party with our neighbor. Some of you were there. Some of you have been begging for recipes.

You can see what a wonderful spread we had, but you can’t see what wonderful meatballs Glenn made. I couldn’t find the camera when I took them out of the oven, which is really too bad because the presentation was almost as incredible as the meatballs themselves. We served the meatballs on my new white platter with the dips in my mini casseroles. Of course, they were gone by the time I located the camera.

The meatballs were rustic and delicate, well spiced and tender. I think the meatballs were so tender for two reasons. One: we used half-a-pound less pork than the recipe called for without reducing any other ingredients. Two: you puree the bread, milk, and onion so that it’s much easier to incorporate with the meat. Good to know for other meatball recipes.

The yogurt dip was cool and smooth, but very earthy. The mint dip was light and tart, but a little oily. If I make these again, I’ll puree the mint dip so that it will stick to the meatballs a little better.

We made the dips and fried the meatballs several hours before the party and then warmed the meatballs in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 before we served them. These meatballs had a much bigger wow factor than the typical crock pot variety and weren’t much more difficult to make.

Hash Browns

Glenn is quickly becoming the master of breakfast. First pancakes, then waffles, now hash browns. If he ever figures out how to fry an over easy egg, I’ll be able to stay in bed.

What made these hash browns so great? Glenn used real potatoes. The real potatoes not only had a better flavor than frozen ones, but they also had a much better texture. Getting your hash browns nice and crispy can be difficult.

When my brother takes a bag of Ore Ida potatoes out of the freezer, he always says, Moisture is the enemy of crispiness. Then he goes through an elaborate process of defrosting the potatoes in the microwave and laying them out to dry on paper towels before frying or baking them. I can agree that the drier the potato, the crispier the hash browns, but I think there’s a simpler way. Just peel a potato, grate it in a food processor, drain it in a salad spinner, and toss it in a pan with some oil.

I wish I were eating these for breakfast right now.