Recipe: Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese

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I used to have the chili con carne recipe from San Quentin Prison; the warden sent it to me in the 1960s when I worked at Howard Johnson's. Unfortunately, I lost it, but it was very similar to this coarsely textured chili of beef and red kidney beans. The amount and type of hot chile pepper—serrano, jalapeño, or the fiery habañero--is up to you and your family's preferences. I have added a little cocoa powder to give it a bit of depth, similar to the Mexican sauce called mole.

Making this dish in a pressure cooker requires less than 1 hour. I often serve it over crunchy iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, with a sprinkling of grated Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or cheddar, a little cilantro, and some sliced onion on top.

To cook the chili conventionally, put all the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently, covered, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

4 Servings

Garnishes

Put all the ingredients except the garnishes in a 5- to 6-quart pressure cooker. Bring to a rolling boil, uncovered, over high heat. Mix well, secure the lid on the cooker, and cook over high heat until the gauge indicates that the pressure inside is on high. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 50 minutes. Decompress the cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Open the lid, stir the chili, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Remove the bay leaves.

To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves to resemble cups on four plates and ladle the chili into the leaves. Sprinkle on some cheese, red onion, and cilantro. Serve and enjoy.

Episode 217: Game Day Pressure

For an unusual crispy snack to keep friends munching, Jacques makes Crunchy Kale. Then, forget long hours over the stove, Jacques shows us how to make chili without fuss in a pressure cooker for a game day favorite, Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese. For dessert, Pears Bonne Femme are easy and decadent. To add an eclectic note and bit of extravagance, Jacques makes potato pancakes, known as Criques. Served with sustainable Californian caviar, these tasty morsels are both delicious and environmentally friendly!

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Minute Recipe: Cheese Balls with Pignoli Nuts

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I love cheese and always buy more than I consume. Through the years, I have worked out a number of recipes to use leftover cheese, so I don't have to feel guilty about it spoiling. This appetizer is best done with soft cheeses, like fontina, Camembert, blue, St. Albray, or Reblochon. Pear and dried cranberries lend a little sweetness and the toasted pignoli nuts add richness and texture—a perfect combination.

Spread about 3/4 cup pignoli nuts on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Remove any skin or mold from enough soft cheese—one variety or a mixture of those listed above or others—to yield 1 cup. Break into 1-inch pieces. Put the cheese in a food processor with 1/2 cup 1-inch pieces of peeled pear or apple, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Process until the mixture is still chunky but is well combined and beginning to stick together. Divide into 18 small portions of about 2 teaspoons each. Shape into small balls. Roll in the toasted pignoli nuts to coat. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 18 small cheeseballs