chili & mashed celeriac

early winter and yes, it is cold up here. how cold? portland last night had it at fourteen degrees, time for winter food to bring some heat to the belly, spicy and buttery, dark and light, saucy and silky, aka chili and mashed celeriac.

so, i start with what takes the longest, typically two days or so, the chili: of course your chili ain’t my chili, so just to avoid any of the grand chili arguments let’s just agree that my chili is what i am cooking here. now if you want to do your chili go right ahead. i use a local pancetta to begin with. diced and slow-cooked, gradually adding cleaved maui onion until the onion is glassy. two kinds of meat, first the cubed flank steak, i add this just about now and after a while the ground sirloin. low heat and slow are my notions for this part, but after an hour, when the stuff is nice and glossy, i add some serious heat: i like using a blend of three kinds of dried peppers, serrano, more of the chipotle and quite a bit of ancho. i grind those in a mortar, using some small amount of the cooking meat to make a paste. i like roast garlic and use here about four heads. being a good mexican-german i enjoy a mole poblano, freshly roasted almonds ground with a few poblanos, a small amount of anise seed, some vanilla, a little tomato paste and a dark 90% cocoa chocolate. this, the garlic and the pepper paste slides into the meats. the flavors then get to merge and compound on the back burner till the next day. tasting my chili then, i adjust flavors, some salt, a touch of cayenne, but it rarely needs much, after all, it is chili. i serve it luke, adjacent to celeriac mash, which, by comparison, is a breeze to concoct.
celeriac typically is very low in cholesterol. it is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin b6, magnesium, potassium and manganese, and a very good source of vitamin c and phosphorus. unfortunately in this case my preparation requires a good stick of straus butter, which balances the cholesterol up to a fine point. so, i scrape a head of celeriac clean and cut it into bits so it cooks quick and even. once done i cream the lot in a cuisine art together with butter, sea salt and a few scrapes of nutmeg. voila, the dish is done, the combo can last quite a few days if it turns out i made too much for the two of us. chile only gets better, deeper, more of the stuff you want to have when its cold out and believe me, it’s been that way for a while.