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Culinary SOS: Hearty chili for a chilly evening

By Los Angeles Times
McClatchy Newspapers
Smitty's Steak and Skillet Corn Bread is pictured, from Smitty's in Pasadena, Calif.

Dear SOS: Friends and I happened into Smitty's in Pasadena, Calif., after the theater recently. It was a perfect night for their signature chili and corn bread specials. Not your ground beef variety, the chili seemed to be prepared with flank steak, and the corn bread was the best ever. Any chance you could wheedle their secret for your readers? -- Bonnie Cohn, Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Dear Bonnie: Smitty's was happy to share its recipe for its rich and hearty chili and corn bread, which we've adapted.

Smitty's Steak Chili

Makes 10 to 12 servings. Total time: 2 1/2 hours. Adapted from Smitty's Grill in Pasadena, Calif.

     2/3  cup corn oil

     2     onions, chopped

     2     tablespoons minced garlic

     2     shallots, minced

     2     jalapeños, minced

     2     tablespoons ancho chile powder

     2     tablespoons New Mexico chile powder

     1/4  cup dried oregano

     3     tablespoons cumin

     4     teaspoons salt

     1/4  cup tomato paste

     2     chipotle chilies (canned in adobo sauce), minced (about 1 tablespoon)

     3     14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

     3    cups beef broth

     4     pounds flap meat, cut into large dice

HEAT in a large, heavy-bottomed pot the oil over medium heat until hot.

STIR in the onions, garlic, shallots and jalapeños and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ancho and New Mexico chile powders, the oregano, cumin and salt, along with the tomato paste, chipotle chilies and tomatoes. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

STIR in the beef, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, partially covered, until the meat is tender and the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally, checking to make sure the heat is gentle and the chili does not burn. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. This makes about 2 1/2 quarts of chili. While the chili is cooking, make the corn bread.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 403 calories, 36 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 24 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 95 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams sugar, 1,406 milligrams sodium.

Iron Skillet Corn Bread

Adapted from Smitty's Grill in Pasadena, Calif.

     2 1/2     cups flour, plus 2/3 cup flour, divided

     1     tablespoon baking powder

     1/4  cup creamed corn

     1/2  cup plus 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese

     4    eggs

     1/3  cup vegetable oil

     1/2  cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, plus 2/3 cup cornmeal, divided

     1/2  cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided

     1     teaspoon salt

     1/2  cup fresh corn kernels

     1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted

HEAT the oven to 375°.

WHISK together in a medium bowl, 2 1/2 cups flour and the baking powder.

STIR together in a large bowl the creamed corn, ricotta cheese, eggs, vegetable oil, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, the salt and corn kernels. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until incorporated.

SPOON the mixture into a 10 1/2-inch seasoned cast-iron skillet or similar-sized greased baking pan.

WHISK together in a medium bowl the remaining two-thirds cup each flour, cornmeal and sugar. Stir in the melted butter until combined to form a crumbly mixture. Drizzle the crumble topping over the corn bread base.

BAKE the corn bread until puffed and lightly browned on top and a cake tester or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 456 calories, 8 grams protein, 61 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 20 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 96 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams sugar, 369 milligrams sodium.


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