December 30, 2013
Wine Varietal: Merlot
My late mother was a sweet, quirky woman with deep Southern United States roots (Georgia and Florida). Among her many idiosyncrasies, she was very superstitious. She claimed that on New Year’s Eve, everyone should eat black-eyed peas in order to ensure making lots of money in the New Year. Since I don’t particularly like black-eyed peas, I try to at least eat a few kidney or black beans on New Year’s, and have prepared this recipe many times in honor of Mom. You can use any firm, fleshy whitefish (even leftover whitefish fillet chunks will do), but I especially like halibut or lingcod. For one particularly decadent New Year’s Eve supper, I made the chili with Dungeness crab, Alaskan spot prawns, and sea scallops with great success. For those people (like me) who don’t eat pork, rest assured that although the bacon gives the chili a musky undertone and an added bit of texture, the recipe works equally as well without it.
3 slices bacon, plus reserved bacon grease or 1 1/2 tab lespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or well-drained canned tomatoes, plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 (7-ounce) can whole mild green chiles, drained and chopped, or 2 (4-ounce) cans diced mild green chiles, drained
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 to 1 1/4 cups dry red wine or water
1/2 pound uncooked or cooked halibut, or other firm, fleshy whitefish fillets, skin and bones removed, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (15-1/4 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again
Sour cream, for garnish
Chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Place the bacon slices on a paper towel to drain and pour 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease (or the vegetable oil) into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, mild green chiles, and Tabasco and stir well. Add 1 cup of the red wine, bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 35 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes too dry, add more red wine 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition.
3. After the mixture has simmered for 35 minutes, crumble the bacon and add to the chili. If using uncooked fish, add to the chili and stir gently to mix. Cook just until the fish is transluce nt, about 5 to 7 minutes. If using cooked fish, cook the bacon an additional 5 minutes after adding it, then add the fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the fish is warmed through.
4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the kidney beans until warmed through, about 3 minutes.
5. When the fish is cooked or warmed through, divide the chili among individual plates and place a spoonful of sautéed beans beside it. Top with a dollop of sour cream, and sprinkle with additional chopped tomatoes and parsley.
Cook’s Hint: Unlike many chilis that are soup-like, this rendition is thick and chunky, which is the reason I suggest serving it on a plate rather than in a soup bowl. With the sautéed kidney beans on one side and the seafood chili on the other, the dish makes a beautiful presentation.
Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” gift edition and e-edition, by Braiden Rex-Johnson, copyright 2005 and 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.