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Make a super meal

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Let’s not dwell any longer on the sad fact that the Eagles won’t be in San Diego for Sunday’s Super Bowl. Instead, let’s turn to another source of comfort as we watch, with heavy hearts, the Raiders go at the Bucs.

Let’s talk about the grub.

The brutally cold weather, perfect for football, turns my taste buds to rich, hearty fare. Super Bowl foods such as chili, soups and stews are traditional winter favorites. For the past two weeks, I’ve given you recipes for soups, so if you haven’t simmered a pot yet, you may want to include one for your Super Bowl gathering.

Stews and chili are easy to prepare. One of the best things about them is that they can be made in advance. In fact, stews and chili taste better a day or two later because the flavors have a chance to meld.

The best cut of beef for stew is chuck. It is marbled with a bit of fat, which gives the stew a terrific flavor. Leaner cuts such as round steak or top round do not fare well in stews because they are not as tender and the beef tastes dry. Chuck is also my cut of choice when making an old-fashioned pot roast.

Last month I attended a party where most of the excitement centered around a huge stockpot of vegetable chili. The hostess used several types of beans, Italian plum tomatoes, carrots, onions, red bell peppers and tiny kernels of white corn. The balance of flavors was perfect — not too much chili powder and the right touch of cumin. Big bowls of crisp tortilla chips were set next to the pot. The chips made a nice "scoop" for the chili.

A salad of crisp, strong winter greens is the perfect side dish for the stew and chili. Produce companies are now providing us with packaged baby arugula leaves. The cost is $2.49 to $2.99 for 12 ounces. I’ve seen wilted arugula sold in small bunches for $1.49. You’re paying for the long stems. It may appear costly, but the packaged arugula has no waste.

The same can be said for hearts of romaine. Romaine lettuce runs 99 cents to $1.59 a head. Some stores sell it at 99 cents a pound. The limp outer romaine leaves end up in the garbage disposal. I’ve been buying hearts of romaine, three to a package, for $1.69 at the Reading Terminal Market. The Italian Market sells them for $1 a bag.

My Super Bowl salad will include baby arugula leaves, romaine lettuce, baby spinach leaves, endive and radicchio. A vinaigrette laced with Dijon mustard will hold up nicely to the salad.

Here are recipes for your Super Bowl party.

Beef Stewed in Dark Beer

Ingredients:

4 pounds chuck, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
Vegetable oil for coating bottom of the pot
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
About 1 cup flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sprinkling of dried thyme
3 cans dark beer such as Guinness
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions:

Thinly coat the bottom of a 5-quart Dutch oven with vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the beef cubes on all sides, turning with tongs. You will have to do this in batches. Do not crowd the pot, as the temperature of the oil will drop. As beef cubes brown, place them on a cookie sheet lined with two layers of paper towels.

Add a little more oil to the pot. Add the onions and saut� until lightly golden but translucent, about five minutes. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Return the beef cubes to the pot. Lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with flour. Using a large plastic or wooden spoon, turn the cubes to coat evenly with the flour. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Toss well. Pour on the beer, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer about two-and-a-half hours, or until beef is fork-tender. You may wish to add a little more beer if some evaporates. The beer should cover all the beef cubes.

Sprinkle beef stew with chopped Italian parsley and serve.

Serves eight.

Note:I like to serve this stew with buttered noodles. Boiled potatoes are also good.

Vegetable Chili

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
6 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with their juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
Sprinkling of dried basil
Sprinkling of dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 (15-ounce) cans small white beans
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans
1 (15-ounce) can small kernel white corn
Snipped fresh dill
Snipped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and peppers. Saut� about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, kosher salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring often.

Add the beans and the corn and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring well to blend. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

When ready to serve, add snips of fresh dill and Italian parsley leaves to the pot. Stir well.

Serves eight to 10.

Note:As with many soups, chili is another free-form recipe. You can add chick peas, some diced zucchini or diced green beans to the pot. Texture is a matter of taste. Some like a soupy chili, some prefer a thicker batch. As the chili cooks, you be the judge. You may want to add a little red or white wine or some lemon juice to the pot. Serve the chili with an assortment of tortilla chips, warm pita chips, bowls of sour cream, chopped scallions, chopped pitted black and green olives, shredded cheddar and Jack cheese.

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