‘Chopped’ host Ted Allen shows his favorite comfort foods

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK (PIX11)-- Chopped host and cookbook author, Ted Allen stops by to feature his favorite comfort foods for the cooler weather.

KILLER CHILI

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds beef chuck roast
1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground ancho chili powder or paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
1 can (28 ounces) peeled, whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano variety), with juice
1 bottle (12 ounce) medium-heft beer, such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
2 bay leaves
2 cans (19 ounces each) red beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Sour cream, for serving
2 limes, quartered, for serving

• First, cut the beef into approximately 1-inch cubes. Cut out and throw away any big hunks of fat – a little fat will make the chili taste good, but don’t go overboard. Don’t worry if the cubes are different sizes. Put the cubes on a big plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

• Put the bacon in a Dutch oven or large pot and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. About halfway through the cooking, use a large spoon to remove the fat into a bowl and set aside. When the bacon is cooked, remove it to a different large bowl.

• Spoon out all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pot and put the pot back over medium-high heat. Add about one-thirds of the meat the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until lightly browned. Turn the heat down if the meat begins to burn on the bottom of the pot. Turn off the heat and use to slotted spoon the remove the meat to a bowl with the bacon. Put the pot back over the media-high heat and continue in the same way, adding up to 1 tablespoon more of the reserved bacon fat per batch, to cook the meat in 2 more batches.

• Add 1 more tablespoon of the bacon fat to the pot and set it over low heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then until wilted. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook uncovered for 2 more minutes until soft.

• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the chili power, ancho chili powder or paprika, cumin, oregano, and allspice if using. When the vegetables are cooked, add the spices to the pan along with 2 tablespoons water (the water will keep the spices from burning) and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and their juice, and break the tomatoes into pieces with the side of your wooden spoon. Add the beer and bay leaves and stir. Then add 1 quart of water. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. After 2 hours, stir the beans into the chili along with the cornmeal. Uncover and simmer for 30 more minutes or until the meat is very, very tender and the flavors are spectacular. Serve over rice with sour cream and lime wedges.

MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH AGED GOUDA AND CHEDDAR

Serves 4 to 6

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried macaroni elbows, ziti or penne
1¼ to 1½ cups fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
8 ounces aged Gouda, finely grated (about 2 cups)
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until almost cooked through, 7 to 11 minutes, depending on the pasta. You want the noodles just underdone because they will be seeing more heat.

• Meanwhile, put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and stir in the parsley, garlic and oil.

• Drain the pasta very well in a colander and set aside. Heat the pot over low heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute until the mixture bubbles. Turn the heat to medium. Gradually add the milk in a fine stream, whisking all the time, and then the cream the sauce will thicken as it comes to a simmer. Then add the nutmeg and bay leaf and simmer, stirring constantly, particularly at the edges of the pot to keep the four from burning, for 10 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Remove the bay leaf.

• Add the cheeses and stir to melt them. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pasta and mix well the combine. Spook into a buttered 9x13-inch or 2-quart gratin dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until warmed through, bubble and lightly browned on the top, 20 to 25 minutes.

ULTIMATE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBRAWLS WITH SERIOUS SUNDAY GRAVY

Serves 6 to 8

Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
½ cup freshly grated
Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs (made from stale bread)
1/3 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade or low-sodium store-bought
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon cayenne
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for forming meatballs

Gravy:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped San Marzano tomatoes
3 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade or low-sodium store-bought
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with cotton string
½ cup basil leaves, chopped

• Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the beef, pork, onion, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs, stock, eggs, cayenne, and salt until evenly combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture; you don’t want to compact the meat too much or the meatballs will be tough. Put a little oil on your hands and form loosely into golf-ball-size meatballs. You should have about 25.

• Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Gently add the meatballs and brown thoroughly on all sides; this will take about 15 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them in the sugo.

• Make the gravy: In the same pan you used to cook the meatballs, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Push the veggies to one side and add the tomato paste, toasting it on the bottom of the pan for 1 minute. Stir into the vegetables.

• Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently, partially covered, until thick and significantly reduced, about an hour.

• Carefully add the meatballs, a few at a time, and simmer, stirring very gently now and then—don’t break-a ya bawls!—until cooked through, 40 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Add most of the basil and stir, reserving a little to sprinkle over the top for serving.

Allen will be live at 8:45AM: http://www.pix11.com/live