Super Bowl Party

I am a fan of football. I don’t get to watch a lot of games, but I keep track of what’s going on during the season, and I am always guaranteed to watch the Super Bowl. Since I’m going to be watching anyway, it’s as good a reason as any to have people over to watch with me.

Super Bowl parties were sort of an annual tradition growing up, but mostly because it was an excuse to get people together. Whenever my family was hosting, my siblings and I would plan for all the American food that seemed to go with the big game (pizza, wings, sandwiches), but my mom would always insist that we couldn’t have a party without the necessary Haitian staples (which included rice and beans at the very least).  So the “kids” would pile up to watch the game and eat American food, and the “adults” would come over for the Haitian food, but never actually watched the game.

New York never struck me as a place with football fever, but I remember clearly the 1991 game (Giants vs. Bills) game where everyone was talking about it in school and I was asked who I was routing for and I picked the Giants mostly because I had a friend who said I knew nothing about the game and she was routing for the Bills (I wanted to prove that I, too, liked football). I attended my first Super Bowl party that year, became a lifetime Giants fan, and watching the Super Bowl became an annual tradition. For me, though, a Super Bowl just isn’t a Super Bowl without a party, and a party isn’t a party without food.

When I first moved to Seattle, I kind of expected the love of football to be greater than it was. Maybe it was because I was new, or maybe it was because no one realized that I could possibly like football, but I ended up watching the game alone that year. The next year, however, the Giants were playing and since I couldn’t be in NY, I decided to revive my position as hostess and get a bunch of people together to help me cheer them on.

Now that the Seahawks have had an amazing season, I am finally seeing love for football shine in Seattle. There’s so much excitement in the air, and this year’s party should be loads of fun. I’m busy menu planning, and at least some of these recipes will end up on this blog. Maybe I’ll include Haitian food to honor my mom’s tradition, but whatever I include, I’m hoping it will tingle the taste buds. Go Hawks!

A Little Bit American

This week’s recipe takes a little break from the Haitian recipes so I can give you one of my favorite American dishes: chili. I’ve been a little strapped for time this week, which always reminds me that I own a slow cooker that’s designed to save me time.

I love a good chili, especially in the winter. There’s something comforting about the heat of the chili as it helps take away the chill from outside. It may also be one of the only foods I prefer eating the day after I’ve made it. It’s also freezes really well, so even though I end up making a lot of it, I’m perfectly happy to freeze some for another time.

You might be wondering why I chose chili as my first American restaurant. There isn’t really a big story behind this one, but it’s a food that you can doctor up to be whatever you wish it to be, but it’s most certainly not Haitian. It’s the kind of thing I’d have to talk my parents into eating (unless it’s being served with rice). As American a dish as it is, it’s still chock full of flavor, and that’s how it’s become one of my favorites. I tend to serve this a lot at Super Bowl parties (more on the Super Bowl in future posts) because it feels very American (as does the Super Bowl).

I think I got the original recipe from somewhere, but it’s changed so much over the course of time, and I can’t remember where the original came from. In any case, here’s my take on Turkey Chili.

In terms of variety, I’ve made a variation of this without turkey by substituting the turkey with a can or two of corn, and I think it works just as well without the turkey. I’ve also tried it with ground beef, but that honestly didn’t work as well as I would like.

Turkey Chili

3 to 4 cups of  ground turkey
1/2 lime
4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
5 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup water
2 (35 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chicken base
4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sugar (to reduce acidity)
Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, sour cream for optional garnish.

1. Mix the turkey, lime juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons basil,  and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
2. In a large pan, warm up the olive oil on medium high heat.
3. Add the seasoned turkey, onions, and bell peppers and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to keep the turkey from clumping together.
4. In a large slow cooker, add all the ingredients (except for garnishes) and stir well.
5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.

Something for Everyone

When I’m cooking, it’s true that I am usually making Haitian food. That’s not to say I don’t like other cuisines or that I only make Haitian food. For me, it’s usually about sharing the food with people who might otherwise never have it (and it reminds me of home). I will be sharing a few of my American recipes in the next few weeks, but wanted to share some of the American influences on my Haitian cooking.

I should probably note that I’m not keeping the recipes strictly traditional. Don’t get me wrong, they are still very Haitian, but in some cases i’ve added my own flair. For example, a friend of mine asked me last week if I used MSG at all. The answer is no, although traditional Haitian food might have MSG as a lot of Haitians use Maggi Chicken Bouillon, which does contain MSG.

Where it makes sense to me, I’ve made substitutions for products I don’t care to use. Instead of Maggi, I use a product called Better than Bouillon. You can feel free to use any chicken soup base that you like, but look for one that has a pretty good flavor.

I also use a lot of basil, which also isn’t very traditional. My mom makes her own spice rub (for which I will provide a recipe at a later date), but it has a parsley base. Basil has a distinct taste, so you could say it maybe changes the flavor, but the other elements are what is keeping it a Haitian recipe.

The great thing about cooking is you can make substitutions if something doesn’t suit your needs. I know many people who have food allergies or preferences that the original recipe may not accommodate. It doesn’t work for every recipe, but for the most part, I can find something that you can eat if you’re coming to my house for dinner.

If you’ve hesitated to try any of the recipes because the ingredients aren’t to your liking, feel free to swap the seasonings for brands that you like better.

I’d also love your feedback! If you have tried something, do let me know how it came out, or let me know if you have questions about specific substitutions.