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Oct. 2014 19

Panther Creek Heat, Winner of 2014 Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club Terlingua-in-Exile Chili Cook Off

Yesterday I entered my very first cooking competition, the Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club’s Terlingua-in-Exhile Chili Cook Off.  My usual chili is pretty good, but for competition I wanted to take my game up a few notches.  I consulted the all-seeing Google and found a number of really great recipes (along with some really weak recipes that I will not link),  A Bowl of Red is supposed to be awesome rather than wimpy.  And let’s agree not to talk about beans.

This recipe is heavily based on Lisa Fain’s Seven-Chile Texas Chili recipe, but I added some ideas from a couple of other sources too:




http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/11/real-texas-chili-con-carne.html (Good grief, this one includes beans!  That ain’t chili.  Good ideas though!)

A word of warning: this is not your week-day chile.  It takes more preparation and longer cooking than most chili recipes you will find.  I started around noon and ran out the door with it at about 4:15pm, barely making it to the competition in time at 4:30pm.

Panther Creek Heat
Winner of 2014 Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club Terlingua-in-Exile Chili Cookoff

6 dried ancho chiles (All of the chiles I used were from Pendery’s)
2 dried pasillia chiles
2 dried mulatto chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles *
2 dried chipotle chiles (I did not have this so I used 1/2 cup chipotle flakes)
4 dried chiles de arbol
about 3 or 4 cups of water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 pieces beef bacon
4 pounds chili-ground beef (I used Burgundy Pasture Beef‘s grass-fed, chili-ground beef)
2 medium red onions diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 shot espresso
1 Tbsp grated 70% chocolate
1 tsp Marmite
2 tsp Soy Sauce
2 filets of anchovy
3 cups chicken broth
2 pkg Savory Choice beef broth concentrate
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 dried pequin chiles
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 shot sour mash whiskey
2 Tbsp fine ground masa harina


Heat your oven to 200 degrees.  That sounds low, but we will be simmering the chile for 3 hours at this low temperature.

Cut off stems from dried chiles, cut open, remove seeds and any pith. It is Ok if you leave a few seeds. In a dry skillet heated to medium-high, toast all the chiles, except the pequin chiles, in the pan. Turn the chiles every 10 or 15 seconds to prevent them from burning.  When the chiles begin to puff, pour in enough water to cover the chiles. When the water boils, turn off the heat and let the chiles soak for about 30 minutes.

Put olive oil in a large dutch oven or other oven-safe pot, turn on heat to medium and fry the beef bacon until slightly crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels.  Leave the grease in the pot.
Cook the ground beef, browning the outside before breaking into medium clumps.  You may want to do this in two batches, 2 pounds at a time. Scoop the meat out of the pot with a slotted spoon, allowing most of the fat to drain back into the pot. Discard all but about 1 Tbsp of fat.  Soften the onions in the fat on medium heat until they are translucent.  Leave the heat on. Mix the miced garlic into the onions and put the following herbs and spices into the mixture:
cinnamon, oregano, clove, allspice, coriander, turmeric, salt and black pepper.

(Do not put the cumin in yet!  It will become too bitter if it cooks to long.)

Chop up the anchovy filets.  Put the anchovies, Marmite, and soy sauce in with the onion mixture. Chop the beef bacon, and put both it and the browned ground beef in the onion mixture. Pour in the chicken broth and the beef broth concentrate.  Stir well.  Bring to boil and then set to simmer.

When the chiles have finished soaking, drain through a fine colander and discard the now-bitter water.  Put the chiles in a blender or large food processor with 1 cup of water.  Put in the 4 pequin chiles and puree.  There may be a few bits that do not liquefy but that will be all right.

Pour the chile puree into the beef and onion mixture.  Pour in the shot of espresso and put in the grated chocolate and stir well. When this mix starts to bubble, turn off the range top, put the lid on the pot, and transfer the lidded pot to the oven.

Let this ambrosia simmer in the oven for 3 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven at about 3 hours and put back on low range heat.  Put the cumin in the chili and stir well.  Thoroughly mix the masa harina with about 3 Tablespoons of warm water.  Mix the masa harina paste into the chili and stir well.  Pour the whiskey shot into the chili and stir.  Salt to taste (it probably will not need any though with the salt and anchovies.).  Let the chili heat for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the final ingredients to blend flavors with the chili.

Proudly serve with corn bread, pinto beans on the side, chopped white onions, grated cheddar cheese, and seeded and chopped jalapenos.

So how did I do?


Overall winner!  More importantly, I got to have some awesome chili!

(* Update 11/3/2014 I just noticed that the 2 guajillo chiles were not in the recipe above, now corrected.)

Mar. 2012 7

Beer Washed Cheese

Last weekend I made two alpine cheeses but had problems with the cheese sticking to the cheese cloth.  This ruined the Saturday cheese, so I did some research before trying Sunday.   Deep pock marks or cracks are a real magnet for mold, so this cheese was never going to age properly.  It appears that alpine cheeses are prone to this problem due to low acidity of the curds when they are put in the press.  This makes the curd near the cloth wrap itself in the cloth fibers.  I am not really clear on the concept as I took Chemistry many, many moons ago, and Physics was more my thing.  Suggested solutions to the problem included the following:


  1. Boil the cheese cloth just prior to use to assure that it is really sterile.
  2. Soak the cheese cloth in the whey before ladling the curds into the cloth, to lower the pH (raise the acidity) of the cloth.
  3. Use a cloth with a relatively tight weave.  Loose weave cloths make it easier for the curds to entrap fibers.
  4. Make sure to redress the cheese at least once during pressing.  In other words, every so often take the cheese out of the press, unwrap it and then re-wrap to continue the pressing.


I always do number 4 anyway, but on Saturday the curds were already sticking to the cloth during the first re-wrap.  I did notice that the cloth I had used Saturday was a relatively loose weave.  Sunday I did all four of these.  The curd stuck to the cloth anyway, though not nearly as badly.  I used a fresh cloth for the re-wrap and discarded the old one that had curds sticking to it.  Monday morning when I removed the cheese from the press there was a little sticking but the surface of the cheese looked smooth enough that I think it will age well enough.  Meanwhile I ordered supplies for item 5 which I did not list above:  5. Use Plyban cheese cloth, which is a recent, plastic cheese cloth.   Advertised advantages are that it does not stick to curds and it is easier to clean.   I hope the cloth comes in before Saturday because I want to make more cheese this weekend.

Last night I started washing the rind with a beer-brine made from sea salt and Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard Ale.  I poured about half a 22 ounce bottle into a measuring cup holding about 4 tablespoons of salt:

Big Head Beer

It appears that the rough surfaces of the salt really makes the beer foam.  You can see that the Arrogant Bastard really has a big head.  (Ok so it is justified!  Great beer!)  This wasn’t all of the half bottle of beer so I switched to a larger measuring cup.

After awhile the foam settled down and I swabbed some of the solution on the cheese:

Arrogant Alpine Cheese

You can see the slightly irregular surface of the cheese and a worrisome crevice in the top center of the cheese in the above photo.  I am hoping that the salt solution will keep that crack sterile.

I have a new idea for a cheese that I picked up from a couple of friends at work that I will blog about next.


Mar. 2012 4

Luckenback Claret Alpine Cheese

How’s that for an auspicious post title?  Ok, how’s that for a name for a cheese?  It is a bit of a mouthful, but I think it does the cheese some justice:

This cheese was from four gallons of milk from Sandy Creek Farm near Bridgeport, Texas.  Sandy Creek has lovely Brown Swiss cows and the milk is outstanding.  Unfortunately they do not have a website so I cannot link them.  I used the four gallons of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of Choozit TA61 culture, 1/8 teaspoon of natural rennet and three tablespoons of sea salt to make the cheese.

Once the cheese was pressed and had dried a bit to form a rind, I started a procedure to wash the rind with a mixture of Becker 2009 Claret and sea salt.  I poured 1/2 of the bottle of wine into a container with a fair amount of sea salt and stored the mixture in two small plastic containers.  Every few days I would pour some of the wine/brine into a bowl and swab the cheese with the mixture.

After a couple of applications of the brine I could tell the surface of the cheese was becoming more tough, like stiff leather.  I aged the cheese for a little over 60 days and used up the wine during that time.  This produced a wheel of cheese weighing about 2 pounds and 12 ounces.  The cheese is pretty firm.

Today I cut into the cheese and took a few pictures.

Slice of Cheese

This cheese is my best yet.  The texture is firm but pliable and the milk aged into a wonderful taste.  Strangely I can’t taste or smell the wine on the skin at all, but the color it gave the surface is different and dramatic.  I have cut a chunk that I will ship out tomorrow.

I didn’t want to name the cheese directly from the wine label, since the good folks at Becker do not know me or my cheese.  Their vineyard is between Luckenback and Stonewall, near Fredericksnburg so I picked Luckenback for a nice Texas character in the name.  Maybe Waylon and Willie and the boys would approve of a good Texas cheese.

Feb. 2012 26

The Best Birthday Present

Friday was my birthday and I am one of those people for whom it is difficult to buy a gift.   If I want something I usually buy it, and being an Amazon Prime member, shipping costs are no problem.  The CheeseWife™ often asks me what I want for Christmas or my birthday and I have no idea because I already have two of everything, except for the cats.  We have four of those.

Truthfully, I am more than happy if someone bakes me a cookie.  A friend at work just gave me a little box of tea from Korea and a little decoration shaped like a little Korean drum.  I found that delightful!  The tea is really good too.  Nevertheless, the CheeseWife™ was challenged to put on her thinking cap and came through with the most startling present I have ever heard of.

A little preparatory information: I am a big fan of Stone Brewing Co after stumbling upon some Arrogant Bastard Ale several years ago.  Since then I have had many of Stone’s fine ales and am crazy about them all.  I have introduced many of my friends to Stone’s ales and converted my boss completely into a Stone-head.  He won’t drink anything else now.  Something else I have noticed about Stone is that they are supportive of other fine craft brewers and of home brewers.  That sort of openness is particularly endearing to me.  I have been mulling over producing a cheese with a Stone ale-washed-rind, though my normal mode is to find local Texas products to work with.  Stone is just so good that I may have to bend on this idea.  Last Halloween I even carved a Stone Gargoyle for a Jack o’Lantern (action shot here).  It took me about three hours to complete, but I was refreshed by the contents of the Arrogant Bastard bottle I was using for reference.

Friday (my birthday) while I was at work I saw an email from the CheeseWife™ pointing me to a beer and cheese pairing at Stone Brewing so I tweeted about it and posted something on Facebook for anyone near the San Diego area.  I headed home, thinking that it would be a good night to have some of my Gruyere cheese with a Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.  My iPhone ringer was set to vibrate-only as it usually is for a day of work.  When I got home the CheeseWife™ made a point of asking about my phone ringer and had me set it to ring.  She also called it to test the ringer.  She then suggested that I have a beer because she needed to work on my present in the bedroom and don’t come in until she could complete the work.

I settled in with a Self-Righteous Ale and sat down to pet little Libby who had jumped into my lap.  After a while the CheeseWife™ came in and asked if I had heard what she was doing, to which I told her no.  She seemed relieved and started chatting about her book that she is working on.  She also presented me with a bag containing four big bottles of Stone ale.  Presently my iPhone rang and I saw an unfamiliar number with a California area code.

I answered the call and Greg Koch from Stone Brewing introduced himself and wished me a happy birthday.  Greg is co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing.  This event was really pleasantly weird!  Greg was charming and down-to-earth.  He asked if I was drinking one of his beers and said that he had heard that I was one of their biggest fans.  As he was talking I had a brief mental flash about the tweet and the Facebook posting but didn’t think he could get my cell number from those, then it hit me about some of the CheeseWife’s™ slightly odd behavior.  She had called Stone and, over the phone, talked her way to the head of marketing and told them about me and asked if someone well-placed in Stone would call to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I told Greg that someday I would send him one of my homemade cheeses and he seemed really interested.  He made me promise to follow through on that as he is a big fan of cheese.  All in all it was a very nice call and something that will stick with me for a long time.  I have a rather nice looking cheese aging now that should be ready in a couple of weeks.  I will probably send a chunk to Greg along with a nice thank you card.

Seriously, I do not intend to make her jump through hoops to come up with really creative ideas.  However, the CheeseWife™ does not cook, so baking me a cookie is not in the cards.  She is remarkably creative and will talk to anyone about just about anything.  She says that next year she will try to get Max McCalman, of Artisanal Cheese to call me.  I believe that she will!

Update: In the interest of full disclosure I will note that while I am an enthusiastic adopted Texan, I was born at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, graduated high school in Fallbrook and went for one year to Palomar College; all of these a short drive from Escondido where Stone brews their various ales.  My father was a Marine and I only lived in California for about two years and four months total.  I have not been to Stone’s brewery nor am I connected to their fine establishment in any way other than as an extremely happy customer.

Update to the update: Oops, big miss!  The CheeseWife™ and I married on the beach in Del Mar about 11 years ago.  Also a short drive from Escondido.

Jan. 2012 22

Texas Cheese Celebration Video

The CheeseWife™ is having fun with her video editing software and HDTV camera. She has posted a video from the celebration at Dallas’s Celebration Restaurant for award-winning Texas cheese makers.   I blogged about my own article about this event here.