Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Chili, Pork and Sauerkraut and Peas and Greens – New Year’s Day Traditions

January 2nd, 2011 · 1 Comment

Once again I was invited to help judge the now-annual Steinhoff Chili Cookoff at the West Palm Beach home of Adam and Carly Steinhoff. (And soon-to-be-Steinhoff; Carly’s due Feb. 12.) It was a smaller-than-usual crowd, since several parties here recently had worn out the guest list, and several would-be guests were out of town, but we were no less enthusiastic a group.

Carly always makes Bloody Marys to start – I had my tastebuds set for one, but she switched this year to a pitcher of Tequila Sunrises. Apropos for Adam’s parents, Ken and Lila, who had greeted the sunrise on Lake Worth Beach for New Year’s Day.

Pittsburgh traditions

Pork and sauerkraut /photo by Ken Steinhoff

Photo by Ken Steinhoff

Ashley Kint and Nick Roberts /photo by Ken Steinhoff

Before the chili fun, however, we were treated to a huge crock of pork and sauerkraut  – and mashed potatoes – from Nick Roberts. He and reigning chili champ Ashley Kint are from Pittsburgh, and these foods are traditional there in a very big way. “The whole city eats pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day,” Roberts said. “I just talked to my grandmother, and she’s cooking hers right now.”

The mashed potatoes are optional.

Here’s how Roberts makes his pork and sauerkraut: “I got two small pork roasts from WalMart – they come preseasoned. So first you put in a can of Bavarian style sauerkraut, then the pork roasts, then another can of sauerkraut, then 1 onion, chopped up, 2 peeled apples, cored and chopped, and 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed. Then you put on more sauerkraut. Then sprinkle in some brown sugar, pour in a little maple syrup and let it cook for 4or 6 hours.”

The result is delicious tender pork, sweet sauerkraut with a few potatoes, and a wonderful juice that Roberts sops up with mashed potatoes in the bowl underneath it all.

It might become one of my traditions soon, just for dinner.

Chili today, hot tomorrow

The weather was shirt-sleeve friendly, though windy, welcome after many freezing days down here. The Chambers of Commerce around Florida are probably still working on spin control.

Only five chili makers brought their stuff  – we’ve had nearly three times that many in the past. Ashley Kint retained her title of No. 1 chili, with a turkey chili spiked with cinnamon. She explains the recipe: “It has ground turkey, chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, a jar of salsa and a block of pepper Jack cheese.”

It was all fun, including the failed attempt at an 11-soda bottle-Mentos rocket salute to 2011. (Wrong Mentos and soda used, but a valiant attempt at unique revelry.)

Home for peas and greens

Back at home for supper, I cooked up the Southern traditions for this day: black-eyed peas, collard greens and baked some thick center-loin pork chops, with only a sprinkling of herbs, to go along with a skillet of cornbread (no sugar). The secret to great loin chops, by the way, is to look for the large tenderloin piece in each chop – it’s tender, delicious and you’re getting what you are paying for.

The meat man at the Winn Dixie on U.S. 1 at Silver Beach Road in Riviera Beach was very helpful in choosing the chops for me (and suggested grilling them). They were on sale, BOGO, even more good luck for my New Year.

I had an extra spoonful of collards, and left the leaves whole this year, hoping for a little more “folding green money” in my coffers in 2011. But still, I’m rich without it, having great family, friends and readers all over the place to share stories and good times. You can’t buy those!

Happy New Year!

Tags: Food and Family Intertwine · Holiday cooking

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