I started my cooking class this week. All of the other courses that I have taken over the years have been in a relaxed environment where you either watched demonstrations by chefs and tasted the food afterward or you cooked in groups. This class is in a professional culinary institute where we have work stations and are expected to dress, learn and behave as serious culinary students.
My first class was a demo of 3 types of stock, fish, chicken and beef. We also had an orientation to the program where we covered some knife skills and how to choose a good chef’s knife and sharpening steel. Most of the students have cooked for many years but are there to get a foundation for a higher level culinary program and perhaps to learn a few things that they did not already know.
Did you know that when making stock you are supposed to bring it to a boil and skim the impurities that float to the top as it boils? Then you should reduce the heat and simmer it without stirring it. Apparently stirring the stock as it simmers makes it cloudy and stock should be clear. I plan to share these little notes of wisdom like this as I go through the program.
When I am not in school I am finding the winter days are long. We spend evenings watching sports or skating or cooking and life just seems to roll along. The NFL football season will end soon and the NHL hockey season is just starting. If you are planning a Super Bowl Party you are probably thinking about what you can serve easily. I made this slow cooker chili for the 100th CFL Grey Cup this year and set the slow cooker on the buffet table to keep it warm. It was a hit with everyone because I kept the hot sauce out of the cooking process and let my guests add what they wanted to their own bowls.
Slow Cooker Chili
Makes 10 servings
2 lbs. ground beef
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 can mixed beans (16 oz.), rinsed and drained (you can use kidney beans instead)
1 can black beans (8 oz.), rinsed and drained
¾ cup corn canned or frozen
1 jar ( 14 oz.) tomato sauce
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil, onions and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add ground beef. Cook and stir until beef is browned, about 7-10 minutes. Drain and discard any excess fat.
Combine ground beef mixture, mixed beans, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours, or High for 5 hours.
Add about 1 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese to each serving.