The Super Bowl ain't got nothin' on what's about to rock your boob-tube this Sunday night, with TV's most enthralling active series, Breaking Bad, finally arriving at its throttling conclusion.
While you're busy wondering if Walt will get to bitch-slap the shit out of Skyler, Marie and Flynn before he croaks from either lung cancer or going out in a Scarface-style blaze of bullets, I've been pondering something much more important: What am I going to cook to devour during the finale?
Breaking Bad's setting always conjures up images of dancing chiles, beans and corn (well, at least to my cheffy ass), the trifecta that defines New Mexican cuisine, so it was clear that those staples would need to play an integral role in whatever I prepared. Also, because the episode is packed tightly into just over an hour of TV, I realized that I couldn't do a full-on feast -- I had to pack as much flavor as possible into one extraordinary dish that would perfectly complement the edginess and intensity this final episode is sure to bring.
After some brainstorming, I came up with a recipe that's sure to leave diehard fans fulfilled (and full-filled) during the finale. (And, hey, if things don't go as you hoped for, at least you'll likely have some leftovers to cheer you up afterward!)
In the spirit of Walt and Jesse always having to do "one last cook" for whichever drug overlord they're currently indentured to -- and in order to make your finale-viewing experience the absolute awesomest it can be -- I've used my cooking-chemist skillz to concoct the following recipe that's the equivalent of Walt's best -- the blue meth of the culinary world.
Without further ado, I bring you:
New Mexico-Style “Walter White” Chili with (Walter) White Beans, (Jesse) Pink(man) Beans, Los Pollos Hermanos and Crystal “Meth” Hot Sauce
Serves 6-8; Prep Time: 1 hour; Total Cook Time: 3 to 4 hours, mostly hands-off
Most traditional chilis (the stews as opposed to the peppers; chili = stew and chile = pepper) are "red" due to the addition of tomatoes; "white chili," on the other hand, omits tomatoes, giving it more of a golden, greenish hue, but since Americans have a longstanding history of being asinine when it comes to dubbing things a certain color, people simply call it "white."
The combination of white cannellini beans and pink beans (or "Walt" and "Jesse" beans, respectively, if you prefer) with roasted green chiles, tomatillos and corn, ground chicken and chicken stock (Los Pollos Hermanos!) will have you hooked on this chili faster than if you took a massive hit of Walt's 99.1%-pure "Blue Sky."
Pop in some pollo for protein, and you'll be flyin' even higher.
Speaking of blue "rocks," don't forget to scoop up your "Walter White Chili" with some blue rocks of your own, a.k.a. blue corn tortilla chips.
And, make sure to pick up a large Hank of sharp cheddar cheese to Schrade over each bowl of chili before you serve it (or, just pick up a bag of pre-Schraded cheese to skip a step and make things easier).
S'aul good, man:
You can totally sub out los pollos hermanos for three cans of chickpeas and use vegetable broth/stock instead of chicken broth/stock. BOOM.
And now, here are the ingredients, "lab" equipment and "formula" you'll need to cook the purest batch of New Mexico's finest:
***This may seem like a lot of ingredients, but don't bug out just yet: you can merely use this as a guideline and still come out with something super-awesome by only following this recipe 50-60%. You don't have to feel pressure to use ALL the different types of chiles or spices, and I'd love to hear your variations in the comments!
2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
2 jalapenos, roasted, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
2 serrano chiles, roasted, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
2-3 ears of sweet corn, husked and cleaned, dry roasted in a 500-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, and kernels sliced off the cobs
3-4 tomatillos, husks removed, lightly oiled and roasted in a 500-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, then roughly chopped
1 TBSP canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large ribs of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 pounds of ground chicken
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dry oregano
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 dash of Crystal "meth" sauce (a.k.a. Crystal Louisiana hot sauce)
4 14.5-ounce cans of chicken stock or broth (or a roughly equivalent amount from cartons)
Optional -- A hearty splash of Albuquerque's finest, Marble Brewery beer (I'll let you choose which variety)
1-2 TBSP honey (depending on how much sweet you like with your heat)
1-2 dry New Mexico chiles (available in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores)
2 cans of cannellini beans (a.k.a. "Walter White beans"), drained and rinsed
2 cans of pink beans (a.k.a. "Jesse Pinkman beans"), drained and rinsed
1 hank of sharp cheddar cheese, schraded (or use pre-schraded cheese to cut corners without affecting purity levels)
Crystal "meth" hot sauce (use at your own discretion)
Blue "rocks" (blue corn tortilla chips)
Fresh chopped cilantro (in case your people prefer greens over the blue stuff)
Sour cream (you know, if your people are also into the white stuff)
Fresh lime juice
A large pot
A large wooden spoon or spatula
A cheese schrader
A sharp knife and cutting board
A large mixing bowl and plastic wrap (optional, for roasting peppers)
Metal tongs (if roasting peppers over a open flame)
1. The first step is to roast your peppers, corn and tomatillos, and there are two methods to choose from for the peppers.
But first, a word of caution: use gloves when handling chiles, as you don't want to accidentally rub chile-exposed hands on your sensitive parts, as it will cause an irritating burning sensation that will linger.
If you have a gas stove, simply char each pepper directly over an open flame carefully using metal tongs or a fork until the skins are charred and lifted. (If they resemble Gustavo Fring's face post-explosion, you're doing great!)
Place the charred peppers in a bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes, then carefully peel/rub off the skins when they're cool to the touch and discard (lightly using the edge of a spoon works well for this). Take your peeled, roasted peppers and open them up so you can remove the seeds and inner ribs, and discard those, too (again, the spoon edge helps here).
Alternately, if you don't own a gas stove, you can roast your peppers on a baking sheet in a 500-degree oven (which is exactly what you'll do with your corn and tomatillos) for about 25-30 minutes, or until the skins are blackened and bubbling up in certain areas. Then, follow the steps starting where you put the charred chiles in a plastic-wrapped bowl, and then peel, seed and rib them.
2. Chop the chiles up along with the other ingredients that need choppin'...
...then, get your large pot, add in the canola oil, and begin heating it over a medium flame for about a minute. Add the onions and celery, saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and continue cooking another minute, stirring frequently. Add in the chopped, roasted chiles and tomatillos and cook another 1-2 minutes, then season everything lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Add in the ground chicken and brown the shit out of it until it's fully cooked...
...breaking it up into small chunks with your wooden spoon/spatula and mixing in the sauteed vegetables so they infuse their flavor up into it. As the chicken is cooking, add in the spices and herbs (cumin, coriander, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves and sugar), more salt and pepper, and a dash of Crystal "meth" sauce; mix well.
4. Add in the chicken stock/broth, the New Mexican beer (if you're using it) and the dried New Mexico chiles, then bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add in the honey and reduce the heat to low, cover tightly with a lid, and continue to simmer for as long as you can without losing your mind. (The chemistry of chili dictates that it always tastes better the longer you let it simmer.) I advise you to let it simmer for at least an hour, if not two or three. That's why it's best to make this on Saturday afternoon, a full day before the finale. Plus, chili always tastes better the day after you cook it because, by then, all the flavors have melded together in beautiful harmony.
5. Once you've had enough of letting your chili simmer, take your drained and rinsed Walter and Jesse beans and roasted corn kernels and add them to the pot.
Continue cooking another 20-30 minutes.
6. If you're making this a day ahead, do yourself a favor and serve yourself one victory bowl as soon as it's ready.
That way, you can taste your wares and adjust the salt, sugar, heat and spice levels accordingly to your taste. Feel free to add in more salt, sugar, honey, herbs and spices to meet your palate's desires, and garnish your victory bowl how you see fit.
7. Store your chili overnight in the same pot you cooked it in for easy reheating on the stovetop before the finale.
Make sure you start heating your chili up at least an hour before the finale begins and that you get all your garnishes in tow so that you're not lagging behind the rest of the Breaking Bad viewership (although, if you DVR it and delay watching it for 15 minutes, you can fast-forward through all the crappy commercials =])
8. Serve the chili to your fellow fans right before the finale begins.
Don't forget your schraded hank of cheese, blue "rock" chips, Crystal "meth" hot sauce, and other fun garnishes.
Also, do your best to remove the New Mexico chiles and the bay leaves -- those babies are almost as bad as ricin when you bite into 'em.
Now that you have this raging recipe tucked snugly underneath your yellow hazmat lab suit, you're all set up for the Breaking Bad finale.
No matter how the story ends, you'll have an awesome meal to get you through it.