Book review: I give it a "B-". It is an easy read, high school reading level, easy font, with minimal illustrations. Lauer's book is 100+ pages, and took me about a week to finish reading at a moderate speed. The pace and feel of the book is slow, perhaps due to the disorganized feel of the chapters, and repetition of similar information. I didn't feel compelled like some novels to not move until it was finished. But neither did I stop reading because I liked the fun facts, and the historical anecdotes that made me laugh. It was a relaxing read, something that didn't require my intent 110% concentration. We all need mini literary vacations. Lauer's book goes into deep insightful descriptions of the pork smoking process with real quotes from smaller family owned operations, and obtains bacon recipes from real hotels, shops, and restaurants from all over the country! Most of the recipes scattered throughout the book looked great, although about 50% seemed inapplicable to me, because of the lack of family friendly-ness. Many recipes seemed a bit too elevated or elegant for my little family and country cooking. I strive for good family recipes in real life and my blog. If you are curious about bacon at all, you should read this! But warning - you may find yourself buying more bacon the next time you go shopping as a result. After reading it I bought peppered bacon for the first time ever. Peppered bacon is so good, I had no idea, and I have this fun book to thank!
As with most bacon lovers, I don't think bacon can be overdone. My best experiences to date with bacon have been bacon cinnamon rolls with maple frosting from Dorothy at Crazy for Crust, an epic egg topped, maple syrup candied bacon cheeseburger, homemade bacon mayo, and now this super yummy, flavorful, and non spicy bacon zucchini chili. I feel bad for always making my chili rather heated so I really made sure this one was toned down. Turns out that because I toned down the heat, the flavors really came out swinging. This new recipe is now tied with my other favorite chili, the yummy apple chipotle one I did last fall. Chili is such good, fall, cold weather, football food. I need to make that again :)
Here's what you need to make my Bacon Zucchini Chili
(inspired by Lauer's book)
serves 6-10 depending on portion sizes
cook + prep = 30-45 minutes
3 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
1/2 Tbs chili powder
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium white onions, finely diced
2 cans of organic black beans (15oz each)
2 medium zucchinis diced to size of your personal preference or shredded (mine measured out to be 2 cups worth)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5 pieces of pepper bacon (little less than half a package)
1/2 lb of ground beef
2 dried bay leaves
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (15oz or approx)
1/2 Tbs Mexican dried oregano
1 orange, scrubbed, and cut in half (adds special touch)
2 cups red veggie sauce (click on title for recipe)
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
5 Easy Directions:
Step 1: In a very large pot cook the bacon. Drain half of the fat out.
Step 2: To the pot add the garlic and onion and saute them in the remaining bacon fat.
Step 3: When the onions are translucent, add in everything else except the beans. Simmer covered for 30 minutes covered over medium low. I added my red pasta veggie sauce straight from the freezer & freezer bag since there is enough liquid in the recipe help it defrost quickly in the large pot.
Step 4: Drain the beans and rinse extra salt off. Add them to the pot. Remove the bay leaves and the orange halves.
Step 5: Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve once the beans are hot.
Good sides: crackers, corn bread, corn on the cob
Fun chili toppings: oyster crackers, fresh green onion, green peppers, green chilies, diced jalapenos, sour cream, fresh tomatoes, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese for a kick
I apologize I don't have more than 1 picture for this recipe. It was so easy and most of it was just dumped into 1 pot thus multiple pictures seemed redundant.
Hope you enjoy this easy fall/football meal!
from my kitchen to yours