Originally posted on BlackandGoldTchotchkes.com.
Listen, so the Steelers lost last weekend to the Saints and there are about a dozen things to be upset about in the loss, but there are about a million more reasons why not to be too upset. The week before, I even stated that if the Browns upset the Saints — which they did — it was very bad news for Pittsburgh.
To be honest, after most regular season losses I can recall very little of the actual game after a couple of days. Glimpse here, moment there, bad call, bad break, feelings of dread, which players struggled, who on the opposing team was suddenly a superstar, but mostly nothingness. I don’t think I could count the number games I’ve been to, watched on television, or listened to on the radio over the years. At home. At parties. At the office. Tailgating. On the road. High school. College. Pro. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Regular season Steeler losses somehow all blur together over the past [redacted for age] years as a thin, black thread of empty memories.
Just because you forget the entirety of an event doesn’t mean you do carry on its concerns into the future. I know Troy Polamalu is still coming off missing all of last season, but we’re halfway through this season and more than a couple of times during the Saints game he looked lost on the field. Glad other people noticed it too, because I was starting to worry that I was alone in my concern. If I see one more failed short yardage bubble or slip screen, I’m probably going to have some sort of mental break. (I’ve decided that a certain offensive coordinator will never be called by name again, like Kaiser Soze or Lord Voldemort.) My arguments for Jeff Reed are looking thinner and thinner as the weeks go by. I bet Tomlin challenges the goal line call after the one yard line debacle.
On a more positive note, Ben — while still holding on to the ball too long, but after all these years I’ve come to live with — is playing like he hasn’t missed a single game. Heath Miller fumbles the ball just because he was too ambitious after the catch. Sure he should have just gone down and the Steelers could have kept driving, but he’s just too good of a player to ever slight for a rare mistake. Too ambitious? Never a problem in my book, no matter what the final outcome may be.
A couple of breaks here and there and it’s a loss to an NFC team that hopefully won’t hurt the Steelers as we head into Week 9. Just think, about a year ago this team was at the start of a five game slide before finally getting their act together and barely missing the playoffs. Feels like a lifetime and a different team ago.
This week, Shredded Chicken Mole Chili Frito Pie.
Until our summer road trip, Bryan had never heard of Frito pie. Since I had already been fooling around with making a mole chili, Halloween weekend sounded like the perfect time to make this hearty football dish with its chocolate undertones for our crew.
Side note; during the last quarter of the game, with the Steelers still down our friend Damon started to put on his shoes to leave because he was worried he was jinxing the game after what I wrote about him and football last year. I had already considered the jinx during the third quarter, but decided it was all in my head and kept it the thought to myself. The fact that he remembered was sweet though, and I insisted he stay for “Bored to Death” after the game.
Side note to the side note; Damon always says side note.
You will need…
2-2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (It doesn’t have to be all white meat, it just what happened to be on sale when I made this batch.)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Mexican-style tomatoes and chilies
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup prepared mole paste
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne (red pepper) for heat (optional)
I prepared this batch of chili in a slow cooker on low for five to six hours. You can speed up the process if you set your pot to high for two hours, but the flavors will not develop as well at the higher heat, plus you run the risk of burning things to the bottom of your pot. You can also make this chili in a large stockpot on your stove for 3-4 hours on low, although I find that soups and chili do better in a slow cooker just because there’s no mucking about with a rattling lid while worrying about the temperature remaining constant.
A word quick about mole. Mole is a wonderful and rich sauce that transforms everything you use it on, from eggs to tamales to roasted chicken to burritos to well, this Frito pie chili, and it is wonderful to go out to Oaxacan restaurants who make their own glorious moles. It doesn’t matter if it is found on a $2 tacos or a $30 roasted turkey dish, you are going to taste magic in every bite with mole.
However, it is not worth the effort to make fresh mole sauce at home unless it is a very special occasion or you already happen to have three types of dried whole chilies, Mexican chocolate, peanuts, sesame seeds, whole cloves and allspice berries, stale bread or crackers and about twenty other ingredients already on hand. Mole paste is very respectable. Sadly, I have never opened a jar of mole paste and not had it go everywhere. The oil always settles to the top and splatters the second I hear the ‘pop’ of the lid breaking free of its seal. Once you clean up that mess, spend some time with a knife stirring it in the jar until it’s smooth again.
In either your slow cooker or your stockpot, combine all the ingredients together except for the chicken. Lay the chicken on top of your chili base to steam and cover.
Cook on low for four to five hours. Under no circumstances remove the lid to check on it to see how it’s doing. There’s some ’70s mom cooking rule about how every time you remove the lid from your Crock-Pot you need to add 30 minutes to the cooking time because you’ve just released all the heat and steam by removing the lid. This rule is probably fairly accurate, so don’t mess with ’70s mom and leave the lid alone. Keep an eye on your family and guests too, they’ll want to just stir the pot because it smells so good not realizing they’re messing with greatness. Smack them right across the knuckles with your wooden spoon and yell, “STEP OFF, I’M DOING THE HUMP.”
Fast-forward four to five hours. Using two forks, gently pull part the chicken in the pot. And you’re saying, “Sarah, this looks like watery chili?” And then I say, “STEP OFF I’M DOING THE HUMP” and keep shredding the chicken.
Hey look! By the time I’m done shredding the chicken, the sauce has balanced itself out to a perfect chili constancy. Put the lid back on and either cook a little longer on low, about 20-30 minutes, or leave on warm/simmer until ready to serve.
In a bowl, layer Fritos (or some other corn based Frito-like substitute), chili and shredded cheese.
Top with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.
Frito pie purists from Texas and New Mexico may disagree on the lettuce and tomato part, but the first time I had Frito pie out on the range in Wyoming (sleep away camp that had horseback riding), there was lettuce and tomato on top so I’ve always found it shocking to see naked Frito Pies in Tex-Mextopia. (Although not as shocked as Bryan was this summer when he encountered Frito pie for the first time in his life. How this dish escaped California/British Columbia/Montana upbringing is beyond me.)
You can feed about five to six hungry fans with the recipe, even with people going for seconds. It is easily doubled to feed more and is usually the case with chili, the leftovers taste better the next day.
What about you guys?
Last week we had a wedding to attend on Saturday, so college ball was a wash for us. This weekend we have the Pens-Ducks game down in Anaheim, which isn’t very footballish, but will probably lead to a lot of just loafing the next day. Steelers are the Monday night game this week, so Sunday I’m thinking Cleveland-New England, Miami-Baltimore, Indy-Philly and sadly, we get another worthless NFC game (Dallas-Green Bay) during prime time. Still not sure what I’m cooking though. I’ve been trying to replicate a recipe from the Stone Brewery Bistro, so I might give it another shot this weekend.
What about you guys? What are you making this weekend? What games are you watching?
Don’t forget to add your pictures to Football Foodies Flickr Group from last weekend and be sure to get some new shots this weekend!