By the time Eric gets home from work, I’m usually already up to my elbows in dinner. I like to use the hour between when I get home and start making it until he gets home to sneak a vegetable or two into the meal. 😉 Quick! Pulverize this pepper, spinach, carrot and zucchini to a pulp and dump it into the chili before he gets here…
Oh no, there’s the garage door going up, his truck’s in the driveway! Dispose of the evidence! Throw the food processor bowl out the window! Hurry, hurry! 😉
He strolls in, says hey in the worn-out-after-a-hard day way he has about him. Looks through the mail BEFORE putting his laptop bag down. Empties his pockets on the edge of kitchen table. Tosses his button down shirt over the back of a chair. After a hug and a kiss hello, he peers over my shoulder into my various pots and pans and asks innocently “Whatchya makin’?”
If it’s something I know he enjoys, I come right out and say it. “It’s a steak with a side of bacon covered in nacho cheese sauce, babe! Your favorite!”* 😉
*Note: Ahem, I don’t actually feed my husband a steak with a side of bacon covered in nacho cheese sauce, but you get the idea. He’d probably worship me if I did though!
If it’s something new and I’m not sure what kind of reception it’ll get, I whip out my stealthy dinner information tactics:
1. Tell him what it is without really telling him. “It’s chicken. In a brown sauce. With cashews. Over rice.” That’s Cashew Chicken to you and me.
2. Change, leave out, or whisper important information and hope he doesn’t ask anymore questions. “It’s like chicken parmesan,” I tell him innocently. “Except with eggplant.” Hey, not my fault he’s halfway to the recliner by the time I get to the eggplant part and misses my semi-audible whisper. 😉
Seriously though, I’m just teasing. He’s very good at eating what I put in front of him, even if he may be a bit nervous at first. He gobbles up the cashew chicken and really enjoyed my recent venture into baked eggplant parmesan earlier this week. I just have to give him a hard time.
It’s what I do. He doesn’t call me the Pest for no reason. I own it, man!
I was unsure how to describe this meal to my husband when he walked in. It’s beef, that’s always going to be a thumbs up for him, but I wasn’t sure what he’d think of combination of spices.
What’s a girl to do?
Me: “Um. It’s like a meat pie…thing. With chili meat except not. And cornbread on top.”
Him, nodding in approval: “A meat pie, huh? Sounds good.”
Me: “Erm. Yeah. Except there’s no, like, crust or anything. It’s like a cobbler….a meat cobbler.”
Him, completely straight faced: “Oh, sure. A mobbler. Sounds great.”
Me, in hysterics at this point: “A WHAT?!”
Him: “A mobbler. A meat cobbler. Get it?!”
Ah, such classic Eric humor. He’s so good at breaking the ice. That’s when I knew all was right with the world. We sat down to this delightful Spiced Beef and Cornbread Cobbler and enjoyed every last bite. It’s easy but unexpected, warm and flavorful but quick to put together. I will be making this again as we start bracing for cooler weather ahead.
When you present this dish, you’d expect to find some sort of spicy chili concoction under the delightful, golden topping. It is, to a certain extent, but instead of the usual chili powder and cumin, you’ll find a warm, spicy mix of cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. It’s really very delicious. I used fire roasted tomatoes for an added flavor punch and tossed in some chopped carrots. It’s pretty customizable too, which is always a plus. Sub ground turkey or chicken for the beef or toss in some extras to bulk it up. Corn, peas or beans would all be great additions.
SPICED BEEF CORNBREAD COBBLER (Recipe adapted from: Gourmet, December 2009 via epicurious.com)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (cut in half for less spice)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) – I subbed pepper jack because that’s what I had on hand.
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9 1/2-inch (6-cup capacity) pie plate.
- Cook onion in 2 tablespoons oil in a deep 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef and cook, breaking up large lumps, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, spices, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and briskly simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.
- While beef simmers, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, egg, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl, then stir into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup cheese.
- Spoon cooked spiced beef into pie plate with a slotted spoon, reserving juices in skillet. Skim off and discard fat from juices if desired, then pour juices over beef in pie plate.
- Spoon 4 mounds of corn bread batter over beef, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons cheese over batter. Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of corn bread comes out clean, 15 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.
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