Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Two-Way Chili Cheese Dogs

Ok, so I know it is not the prettiest plate of food ever, but hey, we are talking about college food in this series of blogs posts and recipes, and if you know anything about college kids, cleanliness is not necessarily part of their vocabulary.  I went up to my son's apartment last evening and taught him how to make this mouth-watering, flavorful, slightly spicy chili you can serve two ways, ergo the title.  The mystery shall be revealed later in this post.  In the meantime, here's this fast and incredibly easy recipe.  There is virtually no chopping or dicing, it is that easy!  Ready College Foodies?  Here we go:

The starting line up for the chili:(Note:  measuring is fairly optional, and using your hands is easier than measuring spoons! Just, please, wash your hands first!!!)

2 tablespoons (one palm-full of) smoked paprika + two teaspoons, set aside
2 tablespoons granulated onion
half a palm-full of garlic powder + two teaspoons (quarter palm-full), set aside
1 tablespoon (half palm-full) ground cumin
2 tablespoons smoked, ground pasilla chili 
1 teaspoon Chipotle powder
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (crushed between palms before adding)
1-2 tablespoons dried oregano (also crushed between palms before adding)
1-2 teaspoons salt, added in layers
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes  (I use Cento)
1 15 or 16-ounce can drained dark kidney beans (optional)
1 15 or 16-ounce can drained white kidney or pinto beans (optional)
 1-2 cups water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 can diced green chilis
1 pound ground beef or sirloin
1 package bun-sized hot dogs
1 package hot dog buns
1 package thinly sliced bacon
extra virgin olive oil (two tablespoons)
Juice of one or two limes 

Easy, right?  Most all of the above spices  - except, perhaps, the Chipotle powder  - can be purchased at any 99-Cent Store, as well as all of the other ingredients, for those who are on strict budgets.  

What you will need in your kitchen:
1 large pot
1 large wooden spoon (doesn't have to be wooded, although it breaks up the meat easier than plastic)
1 cutting board/chopping block
1 sharp knife (to open the bacon packaging)
1 baking pan with a rack
Aluminum foil
1 measuring cup 
1 pair of tongs 
Can opener

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. 

Over medium-high heat on the stove top, add the extra virgin olive oil (evoo) to the large pot.  Add two or three of the crushed coriander seeds to the oil.  When it begins to bubble and pop, add the ground beef or sirloin. I did spring for ground sirloin for this meal because of the flavor factor, but a nice package of lean ground beef (80/20% or leaner) will work just fine. 

Using the large wooden spoon, break up the ground beef and caramelize.  This may take about eight or so minutes. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Do not worry about the beef sticking to the bottom of the pot, but you will need to use the spoon to scrape it up as best as possible.  You will add liquids soon, which will enable you to scrape up those brown bits of flavor goodness soon!  

While the meat is caramelizing, line the baking sheet with foil and place the rack atop that.  Set aside. 

Next, add the can of crushed tomatoes, the half cup of ketchup and half of the water.  Stir until incorporated. Work the bottom of the pot to scrape up the browned, burned on bit of beef.  That is flavor!!!  

Add the spices and thoroughly stir until all of the flavors have incorporated into the chili.  Bring to a boil.  Add the rest of the water, salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot.  Allow the chili to simmer for thirty minutes.  

 Now for the fun part!  Using the sharp small knife, carefully open the package of bacon and the hot dogs.  Take one hot dog and one strip of bacon and, holding the thicker end of the bacon on the left side of the hot dog, wrap the hot dog with the bacon.  Set the bacon wrapped hot dog on the baking sheet rack.  Repeat until all of the hot dogs have been wrapped.  Sprinkle the hot dogs with pinches of the garlic powder and paprika you set aside earlier. Place the baking sheet, then, in the oven and bake for eighteen to twenty minutes.  The bacon will cook, shrink, as will the hot dogs, and they will brown up.  The smell will fill your place with an unbelievable aroma!

 When the hot dogs have browned and are ready, remove from the oven.  Using the tongs, remove the hot dogs from the baking rack, place the hot dog buns (I used whole wheat buns;  hey, something had to be healthy!) on the rack, and bake them until browned, about eight minutes. 

Here's the mouthwatering, easy part:  Add a hot dog to a bun, add your favorite cheese, and spoon heaping spoon fulls of your chili atop that.  Now, here's the mystery of the two-way chili.  You can have the chili with the beans, or without the beans.  My son likes his chili without beans, I like it with the beans, so you can serve it one or two ways, ergo, how I named the chili.  My bad!  Serve with chips, your favorite vegetables, and your favorite toppings. We went simple and easy:  cheese and chili. 

I hope you will try this incredibly simple recipe and enjoy it!