Sometimes it’s best not to mess with the tried and true. So if I were going to a tailgating party, I’d bring a big ole pot of homemade chili (perfect for a cool, fall day). I might also bring some homemade guacamole, not only because it’s one of my top three favorite foods in the world (along with salsa and corn tortilla chips), but because it’s just not a football game without some kind of dip. Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!
I like to keep my guacamole simple like in recipe below so that the taste of the avocado really comes through. What I think really makes for a great guac is to dry toast cumin seeds that you can add to taste. For this recipe, I’d put in about 1 tsp of them and lots of fresh lime juice, maybe 2 TB (but I like it really citrusy). I’d also bump up the cilantro to 1/2 cup or more, though I realize not everybody loves it like I like I do.
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, preferably white skinned
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh or pickled jalapeno chile, without seeds (optional)
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- 2 large or 3 small firm-ripe Hass avocadoes, halved and pitted
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
Stir together onion, salt, chile and cilantro in a large bowl. Score avocado halves in a cross-hatch pattern and scoop avocado from skins with a spoon. Mash with a fork until ingredients are mixed and avocado coarsely mashed. Stir in tomato.
Make ahead: Guacamole is best eaten when it is freshly made. It will keep several hours chilled, just make sure to cover the guacamole with plastic wrap, pressing gently down on the entire surface. This step will prevent your guacamole from oxidizing and turning brown. While you won’t get sick from eating brown guacamole, it’s a decidedly a negative visual that’s for sure. When I lived in Guatemala years ago, I was told that tossing the avocado seed into the guacamole would also help keep it from turning brown. While I’ve only noticed a tiny difference in the color when doing that, it does make you look awfully fancy.
Perfect Fall Chili
I’m going to let you in on two secrets that I think makes for an awesome chili – using smoked meat and a dark beer. Here’s a recipe you can find in pretty much any cookbook – but it’d be one that I’d start with and play around with a little bit to make it all your own. For me, smoked meat can elevate any dish and make it more crave-able. Using your favorite dark beer to make up part of the cooking liquid will make it even more signature.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces ground beef (or smoked meat of choice)
- 4 ounces ground pork
- 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
- 1 small fennel bulb, medium dice (or just use a little bit more onion if you don’t have or like fennel)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped red chile peppers (fresno chilis would work great here)
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin (dry toasted and ground will make the flavor really pop)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 (22-ounce) bottle dark beer (make sure to buy an extra bottle to enjoy with your chili when you’re done)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight in water and drained (you can also use canned beans if you’re in a rush)
- 6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Sour cream, cheese and crispy tortilla chips for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and no bits of pink remain, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Stir in onion, chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon of the salt, cayenne pepper and tomato paste and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beer and bring to a boil. Simmer until the beer flavor is cooked off, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, tomatoes and kidney beans..
- Bring the chili to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Taste and season with salt as needed.
- Serve the chili garnished with the scallions, sour cream, cheese and crispy tortilla chips.