For special deals and more great content, sign up for the free How To Cook Like Your Grandmother Newsletter.
Email address:


Also receive blog posts via email

Not now, thanks

My Best Failed Experiment Yet

I always get more creative when I’m working with leftovers. What can I do with this that I haven’t done a thousand times before? Sometimes it comes out pretty good. Other times … eh, not so much.

This time I had a couple of things to use, so I had a couple of chances to succeed, or not. One idea sort of worked, the other was a spectacular failure. So bad, in fact, that I think I invented a whole new type of food. In a good way.

And once again, no pictures. I had no idea this was going to work when I started.

First thing I had was a bunch of leftover steak. My wife found a pack of thick-cut sirloin steaks, a bit over 4 pounds for $17. Even with my little carnivores, we only finished a bit more than a third of it on the first night. Second night I sliced some thin and made cheesesteaks. We still had half of it left.

Second was a whole bunch of French onion soup. (Oh, I forgot, I haven’t posted that yet. Okay, come back tomorrow for that one.) Maybe I could use them together?

Ah, the meat grinder! Do the steak, add the onion soup, a can of tomatoes and some seasoning and make chili. Yeah, that should work. Now it turns out I could have stopped at the ground steak and the onion soup. I had that simmering while my wife was working on dinner and she kept stealing bites of it. Then I added the can of crushed tomatoes and she still kept snacking.

Okay, so I may have found a new recipe here. But this is supposed to be chili for Pete’s sake. It needs garlic and ancho powder and chipotle powder and cumin. How much? Ah, just throw some in and adjust it later.

Remember last week, I mentioned how my daughter and I will watch TV shows and tell each other, “This will not end well“? Yeah, well this is that time. I really should have measured it out. The chipotle kind of spilled out of the container in a clump. Oops, that’s a bit more than I intended.

Suddenly this rich, beefy chili I had going was more heat than flavor. Even I didn’t like it. So now instead of a couple of pounds of steak and a pot of French onion soup, I had a couple quarts of way-too-hot chili. Arrgh!

But wait, we’ve got that economy-size pack of ground beef. If I make another pot of chili, but leave out all the seasoning, then I can mix them together and it’ll even out.

To make a long story short — too late, I know — I just invented chili concentrate. Three pounds of ground beef, one can of crushed tomatoes, and two cups of the “bad” batch of chili. Holy cow this stuff is good.

Now I’ve got to figure out exactly what the recipe is for this stuff. I’ve seen plenty of chili kits that are entirely dry ingredients. I’ve never seen one that was a wet mix. How about you. Have you ever seen a wet chili mix? Or have I just invented a new product?

Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.

Tip Jar

Like what you see? Buy me a drink.