Football Watching Food (No, Really)

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Okay, nice joke J.C., you totally had me. Although I should have known something was up since nobody makes their own corny dogs (except maybe Jay Francis).

Don't look for any Super Bowl recipes from me. The spirit has gone out of our great national guacamole-eating holiday since the NFL started suing everybody for infringing on their trademark. Bars and restaurants can't have Super Bowl promotions without paying a fee to use the name. That's like Hallmark demanding a cut of your Mother's Day Brunch. Last year there were reports of the NFL lawyers going after churches for advertising Super Bowl watching parties. What a greedy bunch of creeps.

Most of my family is from Pittsburgh and I thought about putting up a recipe for the city's iconic dish--chipped ham sandwiches--but it's hard to find decent chipped ham in Houston. (You need to find a deli that knows how to shave really cheap boiled ham.) And anyway I'm so disgusted with the NFL, I don't even want to watch the game whose name must go unspoken anymore.

But if you live in Texas, it's a good weekend to make chili, no matter what's going on, right?

Ladybird Johnson's Chili

This recipe was included in The Tex-Mex Cookbook During her White House years, Ladybird Johnson used to give out the recipe on a printed card. Which is how it became a classic Texas chili recipe. Making fresh chili powder helps the flavor a lot. Heating some cumin seeds in a dry skillet and grinding your own cumin boosts the aroma. You can also use Rotel tomatoes and omit the hot sauce if you like.

Serves 8

4 pounds chili meat (beef ground through a chili plate) 1 large onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano 1 teaspoon cumin 6 teaspoons chili powder 1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes 2 to 6 generous dashes of liquid hot sauce Salt Masa or flour

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the meat, onion, and garlic, and cook until lightly colored. Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Skim off the fat while cooking. Salt to taste. Thicken with a tablespoon or two of masa or flour dissolved in water if desired.

Homemade Chili Powder

Use dried chiles to make your own chili powder, you'll be amazed how much better it tastes than commercial chili powder. Anchos are traditional, but you can mix it up if you like. It's really easy. Just be sure to clean out the coffee grinder when you're done. 5 dried chiles such as anchos, guajillos, or pasillas Cumin to taste Powdered oregano to taste Prepare chiles by removing stems and seeds. Toast pepper flesh in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning frequently until dry and crisp, but not burned. Purée pepper in a coffee grinder until it becomes a fine powder. Store in an airtight jar. You can add a pinch of cumin and oregano to make chili powder, or just add the other spices when you cook.

-Robb Walsh

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