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The Big Cook!

March 02, 2018

So today was the big chili cook! It was only my third session in the commercial kitchen, and it’s reminding me a lot of the recording studio. I dig the intensity, the single mindedness, while the cost per hour adds a significant challenge to my like, laid back, slow-food vibe . . .

Anyhow, I pretty much spent the day - if not the week, thinking “what the hell am I doing?!”

First off, my usual ritual, when I come off the road with the band, is to lay around with my dog, then bang on my piano, maybe practice some Bach or something on the bass, and if I’m really super motivated, I might call up a jazzer or two and play some bebop or whatever.

This time I was running around for my sourcing, and outfitting my food production business - I literally went to Roses Equipment & Supply four times in a row. So much learning! - at Roses the used stuff is upstairs, and restaurant pans are a lot cheaper used. You see, you need restaurant pans to chill the chili in the jars - you don’t want food hanging out in the ‘food danger zone.’ That would be above 41f and below 145.

I mean, it’s fun for an obsessive like myself. But, after I got all my wholesale orders, I went back to my cost of goods spread sheet - and even though I got my main ingredient - that Painted Hills Beef Chuck - at a much better price than before, when I filled out the actual hours it’s taking me to produce, ooh yea, eek! I’m selling at a damn loss.

That’s capitalism for ya, the price isn’t the cost, it’s what the market can bare. I raised the price to $13 a pint even though I’ve had feedback that $10 was too high. So, we’ll see Saturday I guess.

Anyway, the mondo size prep took way longer than I wanted, and there’s always that moment, when you’re like ‘oh my god there is so much chopping.’ Cutting up a whole beef chuck - that was wild! But yea, a bit stressful.

And then I’m there with a huge pot of boiling meat, and the tastes were right, but you have to wait for the magic- it becomes soup - the meat relaxes. It’s such a relief. I’ve had times when my home batch takes forever, like 6 hours to get there. And, I was trying to budget four hours, but I was almost two hours behind from my slow prep . . . then it happened. Whew. At about three hours there were still some chunks but the liquid was more gelatinous.

I turned off the heat and let it cool slowly right down to the 145 danger zone. Yup, ok, that makes it all worthwhile.  It's just oozing deliciousness.  Getting it jarred up properly is not without it's challenges, but I know I got a great chili, it's satisfying in itself, and reassuring; I'll just eat it all myself if I need too!

Oh yea, I can tell this is one of my most rich creations! Man, I was craving it all tour. It’s really all I want to eat. It is the finest, most healthy food North America has to offer. If you’re a carnivore like me, this is what you want to eat. The tastiest healthiest meat available cooked in bone broth made with Tails & Trotters pork bones, and spice baby!

If you’re in the area you should come and get some. This is the original recipe, and there’s no way around making changes as I scale up. Next time I’m going to use the tilt skillet which has got to be like 40 gallons. I’m going to have to increase the acidity to increase the shelf life - you don’t want to have to sell a whole production in one weekend.

Portland, OR, Might snow in the morning.