Spicy Chili Bake for Simple Holiday Entertaining

chipotle-chili-baked-under-a-cornbread-crust-1For many of us who entertain, December is the most important month of the year. Whether you’re cooking for an open house, a caroling party, an end-of-the year office fête, a neighborhood potluck, or a Yankee swap (my daughter-in-law’s favorite), the holidays offer endless opportunities to share food with others. The real challenges are finding tempting, but uncomplicated recipes and the time to prepare them.

The spicy chili baked under a cornmeal crust featured here just might fill your needs. Although the chili is prepared classically with ground beef, beans, and a generous kick of heat from both chipotle and traditional chili powder, it is served in an unusual way. Spread in a casserole dish, it is topped with a cheese-scented cornmeal batter, and then baked. When done, a thin layer of golden cornbread covers the bubbling chili beneath. A sprinkle of cilantro and a bowl of sour cream make simple garnishes.

This dish has other bonuses as well. The chili itself can be prepared up to three days ahead—a gift to holiday chefs—so that all that is necessary at serving time is a quick assembly of the cornmeal batter to spread atop the casserole. And, if you’re expecting a crowd, you can double the ingredients easily.

So, during this season of gatherings, consider serving this spicy chili bake. Add a favorite salad and some holiday cookies, and you’ve got a party menu!


Chili–Perfect for Oscar NIght

Spicy Chipotle Chili 2This past week at my annual winter soups cooking class, the enthusiastic students managed to down three main course potages along with a basket of warm breads and a colorful salad. The menu included a pureed tomato and garlic soup served with Gorgonzola brushette, a hearty French smoked sausage and vegetable mélange, and a spicy chicken, black bean, and chipotle chili. Although the class declared all delicious, it was the chili that drew them back for seconds and even thirds. At the end of the night, I asked the group if they would use these recipes in the days ahead. “Yes,” they answered, “for Oscar Night this Sunday!” “Which one?” I asked. “That spicy chili,” they replied.

It didn’t take long for me to decide to share this special recipe with readers since the Academy Awards are this Sunday night. (Get your ballots out.) Made with diced white Continue reading

Chili That’s A Winner for Super Bowl Sunday

Spicy Chili with a Cornbread Crust 1My grown son, Mike, makes fun of me because I am not “au courant” when it comes to sports, and in particular when the subject is pro football. While he can name every team in the NFC and the AFC, their wins and losses for the past season, and most of their players, I’m still trying to figure out who’s going to the Super Bowl!
What I do have, though, is a stash of recipes perfect for when my offspring wants to cook for his pals on Super Bowl Sunday. This year I’ve suggested a spicy chili with big robust flavors that easily and inexpensively will feed a crowd. Continue reading

Super Bowl Chili

Whether for Super Bowl bashes or casual, cold-weather suppers, the chili recipe that follows is perfect for such gatherings. Ground beef, onions, carrots, and garlic are sautéed, then simmered in stock along with tomatoes and traditional seasonings of chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add a hint of smoke and heat, while black beans replace the usual red ones. This dish improves in flavor when made a day or two in advance, and yields 8 generous bowlfuls. Continue reading