I bought two pounds of ground chuck from Central Market the other day. They were running a special-if you purchase two pounds of chuck, you got a jar of “homemade” pasta sauce along with a box of pasta. I made the purchases and headed home. I wasn’t really that hungry to want to make a big pot of pasta sauce, so I took a hunk of the chuck and formed a patty. Sprinkled with sea salt and fresh ground pepper only, it was ready to hit the hot iron skillet. After a few minutes, I turned the patty and placed a small amount of Cambozola cheese on the browned side of the patty. If you’ve never tried Cambozola cheese I urge you to try it. It’s not the easiest blue style cheese to find, but well worth your effort. I’m not normally a big blue cheese fan but this cheese has a nice hint of blue without being too strong in flavor. As I said I wasn’t too hungry, so instead of using toasted bread or a bun, I used a Central Market butter tortilla. These tortillas are fresh made in the store and have a wonderful buttery flavor. So I wrapped the grilled beef and cheese in the tortilla, sat down to eat and wow. The beef had an incredible flavor, not just from the spices and the cheese but just the beef itself was of such high quality and freshness. It was overwhelming to think that the typical dreck we eat day end and out at a typical burger joint was nothing like this beef. Even though I started out that evening not being very hungry, I immediately went back to the kitchen to make another wrap. Just as good. The next evening was a welcomed repeat. And yes, the next too. These were just incredibly good “burgers”.
Since the weather had turned colder the last few days and I still had almost a pound of beef remaining, I wanted to make something with it and didn’t want to risk ruining the beef by freezing it for a later meal. I dug out my mother’s recipe for chili and got to work. I browned the pound of chuck on low heat in an iron skillet. Once the beef was browned, I added three tablespoons of Gebharts chili powder. After the chili powder was stirred in evenly to the beef, I scooped out a clear area in the skillet to roast a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds. The roasting really brings out the flavor of the spice. After a minute or two of roasting, I added the seeds along with about a whole minced yellow onion. Once the onion had sweated a bit, I added a few cloves of minced garlic and blended all the ingredients. Normally the recipe calls for a can of tomato sauce, but not having that on hand I added a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. I drained the juice from the can and set aside for later use if needed before adding the tomatoes. Everything was blended so now it just had to simmer for an hour. After about 30 minutes of simmering, some of the moisture needed to be replenished so in went the tomato juice that had been saved earlier. After another thirty minutes it was ready to be served with lightly buttered (Plugra of course!) saltines.
Takes the chill right out of your bones.