My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week 7 - Chili

Well, yours truly was 1 for 2 this past weekend. I just didn’t feel like Northwestern had enough physically to outlast Ohio St. and they clearly wore them down toward the end. I was incredibly disappointed in TCU, though. If you would have told me that Oklahoma would only score 20 points, I would have said, “Pigskin Chef is a BAAAAD MAN!” Instead TCU’s offense was absolutely dreadful and managed to score only 17 points. At least we got some chocolate out of the deal, right?
This week, there’s a big Pac 12 matchup: Oregon travels to Washington to take on the always dangerous Huskies. Oregon seems to be slowing down a bit, having had their second lowest scoring output of the season last weekend at a drowsy 57 points. I don’t think they’ll blow out the Huskies like that this Saturday. Keith Price is a pretty good quarterback, and I expect Washington to score more points on Oregon than anyone has all year - which for the record would officially be 16.000001 points - but I still like the Ducks by a comfortable margin.

I also expect LSU to take care of business against Florida at home. These are two ranked SEC teams, but I think Florida is a little higher ranked than they probably deserve – which is basically because of their 2012 season.

The second Saturday in October is one of my favorite weekends of the year because it’s time for the Red River Shootout! I was raised in a Sooner home so much of my childhood was spent defending OU since they won exactly FOUR times from the time I was in kindergarten until I graduated high school. However, since Bob Stoops arrival, he seems to have Mack Brown’s number. Anything can happen at the Cotton Bowl, and I don’t expect Oklahoma to hang 50 on the Horns like they have the last two times, but I still see them winning by a comfortable margin. Texas’ QB situation is very iffy – Case McCoy just isn’t very good at all. If his last name were different, would he even be at a place like Texas? Nothing about him says “big time Division-I quarterback.” After this week, keep an eye on the Sooners. They’re quietly getting better each week which is exactly what you want from your team.  They do still have to head to Baylor and Oklahoma State this year, too.

Fall is definitely here so I’ve got to make sure you have a good chili recipe for your own Sooner wagon heading into the second half of the season! This is actually a family recipe that is quite simple to put together. It’s a thick hearty chili as opposed to thin and saucy and hits the spot on a cool fall day. Should chili have beans or not? I say: Who cares? Chili is kind of like gumbo - you do a couple of basic things then put in whatever you want. I’ve seen chili with corn, cinnamon, coffee, and even chocolate. This particular chili has beans so if I have offended anyone, I’m sorry!

Hearty Chili Recipe

What I love most about this recipe is there are lots of canned items in it so there isn't a lot of labor or prep work involved. The most work you really have to do is tasting as you go. Many of the items that go in are seasoned already so you just have a little bit of work on your part.

Start out with a stockpot or dutch oven and 2 lbs of ground beef. 80/20 ground chuck is perfect. Don't you dare try to use 90/10 or 95/5. We need some fat here because in my opinion, the secret to this chili is that we are...ummm <cough> not draining the meat. So brown it with 3/4 of a chopped onion, and seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder and chili powder). Add enough chili powder to cover the majority of the meat.

Once the meat is brown, add the rest of the onion, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and rotel. Mash up the stewed tomatoes in the pot as best you can.

Add the other secret ingredient: 2 cans of ranch beans:


Make sure everything is stirred and combined well. I like to hit it twice more with chili powder. I cover the meat once with the powder, stir, then repeat once more. This step is totally to taste so you could do more or less if you like, but this is the sweet spot for us. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if you need, too.
Cover about like this, then stir. Repeat once more.
Bring to a light boil and simmer for an hour or more. The longer it simmers, the better it will be. And the result should look a little something like this:

As with most chili, it gets better and better each day it sits. It’s great to have a pot of chili cooking on the stove and smelling up your house on game day, but it will taste even better the next day...and the next. Interestingly enough, the first time I had this it was almost a week leftover and I loved it. I hope you enjoy it, too!

We eat ours topped with cheese and serve with tortilla chips (and a nice Oktoberfest).


It's important to remember that my seasoning amounts for salt, pepper, and chili powder are just guidelines. Make sure to taste as you go because with all of the canned items going in, there’s no way to really know how much seasoning you’re actually starting out with. Ranch beans are already seasoned with chili powder/salt and canned tomato products can have different amounts of salt as well.

If you want to add fritos, more onions, or whatever you typically add to your bowl of chili, by all means do what you do! It’s not spicy at all, and even with all the peppers and onions, my 3 year old gobbles hers right up!

Hearty Chili Recipe

2 lbs hamburger (not lean)
1 large onion chopped
1 Tbsp Garlic powder
Salt to taste (about 1.5-2 tsp)
Pepper to taste (about 1 tsp)
2 tsp cumin
3 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (14 oz) can rotel
Chili powder to taste
2 cans Ranch Style Beans

1)Brown hamburger, add salt pepper, cumin, garlic, some chili powder, and some (but not all) of the onions. Do not drain meat.

2)Once brown, add the rest of the onions, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ranch beans. Stir all ingredients together, and cover meat with chili powder. Stir, taste, and repeat once or more if necessary. Add more salt and pepper if you like as well.

3)Bring to a light boil and simmer for at least one hour.

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