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Fall Weekend Tailgate

Forget the brats and sausages this weekend. Let's cook-up a dish..I'm talking a hearty, meaty dish with a spicy-kick that melts in your mouth and warms you up before the game. Here's one of my favorites. You can make it ahead of the tailgate. Try my Faux Pressure-Cooked Chili Recipe. In less than a couple hours, you'll be enjoying the warming comfort of the best chili that will keep you satisfied well past half-time. Don't forget- bring the toppings!

We have made the move from picnics to tailgates. Now that the season is in ful swing, here’s a great do ahead chili. The flavors only get better the next day. Tailgate season is in full swing

A favorite crowd pleaser is using whole meat as opposed to chop meat in a chili. There’s more to chew on, so to speak. However the real results achieved is the flavor and texture in this dish. I use a combo beef and pork version for the ultimate pleasure.

This recipe cooks quicker than just simmering on the stove. If you do not have a pressure cooker or slow cooker; none to fear. Use a cast iron pan such as Le Creuset.

Faux Pressure-Cooked Chili

Makes 8-10 servings 

2 pounds Chuck roast 

2 pounds Boneless country-style pork ribs

Olive oil as need to sear meat

4 Tablespoons ground cumin

4 dried chilis, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 onion, quartered

6 cloves garlic, halved

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork in the hot oil until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Repeat by searing the beef.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Add pork back into pan with beef, along with the 4 Tablespoons cumin, dried chilis, quartered onion, garlic halves, and jalapeno pepper. Add broth, cover with a tight lid, and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. If you do not have a very tight lid, cover with foil and then place the lid over foil. Do not open oven or peek inside the pan for 1 1/2 hours. 

Remove meat from oven, Do Not remove cover. Allow to cool for thirty minutes.

Prepare sauce to add to meat. 

For the Sauce & Finishing:

1 Tablespoon each oregano, cumin, chili powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups crushed tomatoes

2 can pinto beans, rinsed

2 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, melted

In a sauce pan heat olive oil, onions, garlic and cook until tender but do not brown. Add toasted spices and add tomatoes, chocolate and beans. Lower temperature and simmer for thirty minutes while meat is resting. 

After thirty minutes, remove cover from meat and pour juices into sauce. Shred meat finely with two forks. Pour sauce into meat and cook an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours to allow sauce and meat to blend. 


Bring out the flavor by slow-toasting spices. 

Slowly toasting powdered spices in a dry skillet over low heat before adding them to the chili. 


Quiche or Tart

Some people think the bigger the better. OK, if you like that kind of stuff. But I've always made my quiche tart-like in delicate proportions. Meaning, packed with flavor, but reaching only an inch high - which is the height of my tart pan. Makes sense, right?

But, more important than the height is the bottom crust. No soggy bottom on my quiche/ tart. Pre-bake lightly, cool, and then your ready to add the filling and resume baking. You are guaranteed, a fully baked non-soggy crust.  

Broccoli Ham Quiche

Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes six servings 

1 nine inch pre-baked pie crust
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked & chopped
1 cup Smoked Ham, chopped
4 eggs, well beaten
1 pint half & half
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Beat eggs with half & half, parmesan cheese, hot sauce, nutmeg, and pepper. 

Add olive oil to sauté pan, heat ham, cook onions and broccoli until slightly tender. Cool and put in pre baked pie shell. Pour egg mixture over the filling and place in oven. 

After 20 minutes, the eggs begin to set, lower the heat to 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes, until firm yet moist. 


Grow It, Grill It

Sometimes to go forward in life we just need to look where we came from, our ancestors. The sustainable way of life has lit a fire, (no pun intended) under many people today in the US. A trend I hope sticks around. The funny thing is if we just travel 8 hours by plane to many places in Europe; like Ireland, Italy and Sweden, we can see first hand how simple it is, because this kind of lifestyle hasn't changed much for many there. They still grow it, raise it, cook it, grill it and in this case - just keep the recipes simple. 

homemade manicotti I was so fortunate to have been embraced by the beautiful Barba family, who own Trattoria La Tagliata, perched high in the hills above Positano. You know, that Amalfi coastal village made extra famous in the movie, 'Under The Tuscan Sun'. This trattoria is hidden from the tour buses and shops. And you'll find centuries old-style cooking. Sustainable is an understatement there; the wines, olives, olive oil, cheeses and meats are all raised by the family.

very fresh mozzarella and vine ripened tomatoes
A combination of fresh ingredients and traditional family recipes, made from their hillside farm crops create simple tasty, original dishes. The Barba family uses every inch of their steep hillside property. The olive trees are artistically grown among lemon trees, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, basil and chickens on the loose.
The part that really struck me was the way the family works together. Everyone has an important role. Bartolo Barba (nicknamed O'Baron) helped La Tagliata blossom and grow through his brotherly love. He's the king of the grill and knows all the secrets of cooking meat to perfection. To describe the precise taste of his meats are, well, you just have to taste it. It's not just one thing- the magic of meat, meets fire and smoke.
Luigi Barba, (bellow, nicknamed O'Cheffon) had a vision. His passion for good and wholesome food took him to a piece of land high up on a hill and with his dedication he realized a dream come true, at La Tagliata.
Dora his wife, has always worked with her husbend, O'Cheffone. She enriches each recipe with her experience. Her dedication contributed to Tagliata becoming a family business. Her smile always warming, awaits you and encourages you to mangi or eat up. 
Enzo and Peppino are the sons of O'Cheffone and Dora. They were raised with good work ethics from their parents. Thanks to strong family values and love of their land, they have continued improving the family business created by their father.
So the story is- grow it, cook it, or grill it and do anything for that matter with love and it will be good!