Big Pot of Comfort :: Spicy Cajun Chili with a Kick!

Spicy Cajun Chili
Spicy Cajun Chili

Chili is one of my go-to recipes when the Autumn leaves start turning colors and the weather starts getting cooler – especially on a crisp weekend night cuddled under some fuzzy blankets with me and my kitty cat watching some movies. Or with a group of friends watching everyone go crazy on college football game day. There’s nothing better than that. And, it’s an easy thing to make and dishes out a big dose of comfort. The best part is once I make a big pot, I can eat it for a few days and then throw the rest in the freezer for later (unless all my crazy friends dig in and there’s nothing left to show for it which actually makes me the happiest!)

I decided I wanted to make a spicier version of the chili I normally make and added a kick to it with some Cajun/Creole seasoning Tony Chacere’s (or you can try Emeril’s Southwest Essence) which adds an extra layer of spicy, savory flavor with green and red bell pepper and celery flavors.  I added some red pepper flakes, diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of hot sauce to the mix and used half ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey) / half ground beef and threw in some garlic, onions and black beans to make it a little healthier too. If you want to make it even more authentically Cajun, you could throw in some Andouille sausage or corn or green and red peppers for even more flavor and texture.

It’s perfect on its own, but you can cool the heat a little bit with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. If you want it even spicier, just throw in a little extra hot sauce – I love Evil Ooze by Hotline Pepper Products (my friend Kerry Stressel makes it in Texas) and classic Tabasco hot sauce, or you can do a little milder sauce like Frank’s RedHot or Cholula) and top with extra diced chilies or sliced jalapenos. I usually serve my chili with plain crackers or corn chips, but you could also make some yummy cheesy garlic bread to serve with it instead. Cozy up and enjoy! 🙂

Spicy Cajun Chili with a Kick

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere's)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 -28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce or 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced green chilies, drained (or 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced)
  • 1 cup of corn kernels (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, for garnish
  • Extra hot sauce, diced chilies or jalapeno (if desired)
  • Crackers, garlic toast or corn chips, for serving (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the chopped onion until soft and translucent, for about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Add the ground chicken or turkey and beef to the pot and mix with the garlic and onion, stirring with a wooden spoon to brown the meat. Continue to cook until all the meat is brown and no longer pink, for about 8-10 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat into a colander and place meat and onion-garlic mixture back into the pan.
  3. Add the Cajun-Creole seasoning and all the dry chili spices and red pepper flakes, stir and cook for another minute or so.
  4. Pour in the stock, water, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (or chopped fresh tomatoes) and hot sauce; turn up the heat until chili starts to bubble, and lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Stir in black beans and and diced green chilies, cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Note: You can play with the thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock as it simmers, but be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking if you do this.)
  7. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. Top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.

Notes

You can play with the desired thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock but be sure to taste and season it to your liking if you do this.)

You can also add some fresh or canned corn to the chili while cooking.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. You can also top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.

Fresh cilantro or lime adds great flavors as garnish for a little bit more green.

Enjoy with a big hearty glass of red wine or a beer and some crackers, corn chips or cheesy garlic bread.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/11/09/spicy-cajun-chili/

Other Chili Recipes you may enjoy:

Southern Style Taco Soup

Emeril Lagasse Kickin Chili

Cooking Light Turkey and Bean Chili

White on Rice Couple Spicy Bacon Cowboy Chili

How Sweet Eats Chunky Fire Roasted Chili

The Pioneer Woman Simple Chili

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Barefoot Contessa)

Spicy Seafood Risotto w/ Shrimp + Steamed Mussels

Spicy Seafood Risotto
Spicy Seafood Risotto

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, I was in the mood to make something spicy with seafood and rice and thought I would do something different than make the typical Jambalaya or Shrimp Etoufee dish. In one of my Italian Cooking classes at The Institute of Culinary Education, we made a Shrimp Risotto which is a typical Italian-style rice dish. Delicious as it is, I wanted to make it with a twist, by adding some Creole seasoning, lemon, red pepper and mussels steamed in white wine to the recipe. It’s super creamy and flavorful, and takes a little bit of time and patience to make. But one taste of the savory shrimp mixed with mussels, lemon and wine with a spicy kick of Creole makes it all worth the effort.

The mussels take about 10-15 minutes to make, so you’ll want to get started on these when you have about 10-15 minutes left to cook the rice in the broth (or you can make them ahead of time and keep them on the burner on low to keep them warm so you can add the mussels to the risotto at the end). If you want to just eat the Shrimp Risotto with the Mussels in wine sauce on the side, you can do that too! Just add some crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of white wine and you’ve got yourself a big, fat, happy meal to celebrate Mardi Gras. Enjoy =)

Spicy Seafood Risotto w/ Shrimp and Steamed Mussels

Shell and devein the shrimp (reserve the shells). Cut each shrimp into thirds. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.

In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and the shrimp shells and saute until the garlic is fragrant and the shells turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley sprigs and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 6 cups of water, lemon juice and zest and the saffron; bring to a boil, reduce to heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Strain the broth and return it to the pan. Add the pureed tomatoes and season with red pepper flakes, Creole seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve over low heat.

In a large casserole or skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook until it begins to get golden, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook until it’s slightly translucent.

Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add a 4 ounce ladle of the shrimp stock and cook, stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Continue adding broth and cooking until the rice is on the firm side of al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

To prepare the mussels for cooking, sort through them and throw out any that are open or don’t close when tapped. Be sure to rinse and swirl mussels in a basin of cold water to rinse out any dirt or debris trapped inside them, but don’t let them soak too long or you’ll lose the natural sea flavor. With a brush, scrub the outsides well under running water, and pry off any barnacles with the back of a knife. Twist or cut off any beards or hair-like tufts and rinse again, keeping the mussels cold until ready to use.

Steamed Mussels

Prepare and shell the steamed mussels (see recipe following) and add to the risotto. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve immediately. Sooo delicious and great with a glass of crisp white wine and crusty bread to mop up the buttery wine sauce!

Spicy Seafood Risotto w/ Shrimp + Steamed Mussels

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • RISOTTO:
  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 parsley stems
  • 2 tbsp parsley leaves, minced fine
  • 6 cups of water
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon, plus 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained and pureed
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere's Creole Seasoning or Emeril's Essence is great)
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian short-grain rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Steamed Mussels (see recipe following)
  • MUSSELS:
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels

Instructions

  1. PREPARE THE SHRIMP RISOTTO:
  2. Shell and devein the shrimp (reserve the shells). Cut each shrimp into thirds. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.
  3. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add half of the garlic and the shrimp shells and saute until the garlic is fragrant and the shells turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley sprigs and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 6 cups of water, lemon juice and zest and the saffron; bring to a boil, reduce to heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Strain the broth and return it to the pan. Add the pureed tomatoes and season with red pepper flakes, Creole seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve over low heat.
  5. In a large casserole or skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining garlic and cook until it begins to get golden, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook until it's slightly translucent.
  6. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add a 4 ounce ladle of the shrimp stock and cook, stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  7. Continue adding broth and cooking until the rice is on the firm side of al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Add the shrimp and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Shell the steamed mussels (see recipe following) and add to the risotto. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve.
  9. PREPARE THE MUSSELS:
  10. In a large saucepan or pasta pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 2-3 minutes.
  11. Add the wine, chicken stock and lemon juice, and season with saffron, salt and black pepper. Add the red pepper flakes to taste, depending on desired heat (if using). Add the mussels to the pot and cover with a lid; increase the heat to medium-high. Steam the mussels, until they open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Remove mussels from the shell (or add them whole) to the shrimp risotto. You can also serve them in a big bowl in the wine sauce separately as an accompaniment to the risotto.
  13. Serve the with some crusty garlic bread and a green salad, along with a glass of crisp white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc is great!)

Notes

Recipes adapted from The Institute of Culinary Education, Techniques of Italian Cooking 

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/02/23/mardi-gras-spicy-seafood-risotto/

Other Risotto Recipes you may enjoy:

CD Kitchen’s Cajun Risotto

Jamie Oliver’s Seafood Risotto (Risotto ai Frutti di Mare)

Emeril Lagasse’s Seafood Risotto

Anthony Bourdain – Seafood Risotto in Venice Video

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