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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Holiday Recipe Open Thread meme
Posted by Jill | 9:51 AM

For the last six or seven years, I've gotten together with my longest-term and dearest friend to bake holiday cookies. Every year we get together, bring in sandwiches, open a bottle of wine, then bake batches and batches of cookies, put them in tins to give to neighbors, family, and friends, and cap off the day by swearing we'll never do it again.

It's actually my favorite holiday ritual.

My second favorite holiday ritual is the annual all-day holiday nosh in my department at work. This is essentially a potluck affair, with everyone in the department signing up to cook or bring something. Until this year, this was always a pretty diverse foodfest, reflecting the diversity of our department. Alas, we had significant layoffs this year, so the event will be much smaller. What I like about doing this is that it gives me a chance to throw a party without having to do all the cooking myself -- and I don't even have to clean the house.

Now I need another project like I need a second navel, but I think it might be fun to put together a compendium of holiday recipes from readers of this and other blogs. So if you have a blog, please pass the meme on.

If you have a recipe to share, either post it in the comments or send it in an e-mail to blogrecipes-at-mixedreviews-dot-net, with HOLIDAY RECIPE in the title, no later than December 10. I'll pull the whole mess together and make it available as a PDF file by December 20.

To get things started, here's the chili recipe I usually make for the office party. Jazz has tried it and will attest to its fabulousness. Feel free to adjust seasonings, all measures are approximate.

Award-Winning Chili*

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
1 large onion, chopped
As many garlic cloves as you like, minced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
2-3 Tbs. chili powder, to taste.
2 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1-2 shakes hot pepper flakes or 1 hot pepper, seeds and pith removed, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can small red beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bottle barbecue sauce

Brown meats in dutch oven, draining as you go, until no pink remains. Drain in paper towels in a colander, then remove paper towel and rinse well. Yes, rinse. It has almost zero effect on flavor, and removes much of the fat.

Wipe out pot, add a little olive oil, heat. Add onions and garlic,cook over medium heat till onions are translucent, Add bell pepper, spices, and hot pepper or pepper flakes, cook another 1-2 minutes or until bell pepper starts to soften. Keep eyes away from pan smoke.

Return meat to pan and mix. Add tomatoes and barbecue sauce.

Cook 1-2 hours, or as long as you like. You can also make this in a slow cooker, but be sure to brown the meat and cook the onions and spices first.

Add beans and heat thoroughly before serving.

What makes this chili interesting is the flavor the sausage adds to the mixture, plus the interplay of the hot pepper and sweet barbecue sauce. Make it the day before for even more flavor, and serve topped with diced sweet onions and shredded cheese.

*The award is from my department's 2001 chili cook-off.
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