Daniel Wolff, Food Detective

danncover1You’re running a little restaurant in the Midlands, Britain. A family come in and order cawl, Cullen skink, partan bree, skirlie, Arbroath smokies, collops, a large Melton Mowbray (with a side of neeps) and some clootie for dessert. What do you bring them?

Answer: lamb and leek broth, seafood soup, crab in cream, oats fried with onions, whole smoked haddock, sliced meat, cold pork pie (with mashed turnips) and boiled fruit pudding. But doesn’t it sound better in the original?

This is a detective story, and the story began long ago, when I was reading Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. If you don’t already know it, Roald Dahl really knew how to write for children. He focused obsessively on food, for one thing, Charlie and Chocolate Factory being the perfect example. I, however, have always preferred savoury foods, so it was the descriptions in Champion of roast pheasant (“don’t forget, Danny, before we put the bird in the oven, we have to lay strips of fat bacon across the breast to keep it nice and juicy. And breadsauce, too. We shall have to make breadsauce. You must never have roasted pheasant without lashings of breadsauce. There are three things you must always have with roasted pheasant – breadsauce, potato chips, and boiled parsnips”) Yorkshire pudding (“My mum could make toad-in-the-hole like nobody else in the world. She did it in an enormous pan with the Yorkshire pudding very brown and crisp on top and raised up in huge bubbly mountains. In between the mountains you could see the sausages half buried in the batter. Fantastic it was”) aniseed balls (“The trick with aniseed balls is never to bite them. If you keep rolling them around in your mouth, they will dissolve slowly of their own accord, and then, right in the very centre, you will find a tiny brown seed. This is the aniseed itself, and when you crush it between your teeth, it has a fabulous taste”) and, most riveting for me, the cold pie Doc Spencer brings Danny on the day after his father is injured.

“Very carefully, I now began to unwrap the waxed paper from around the doctor’s present, and when I had finished, I saw before me the most enormous and beautiful pie in the world. It was covered all over, top, sides, and bottom, with rich golden pastry. I took a knife from beside the sink and cut out a wedge. I started to eat it in my fingers, standing up. It was a cold meat pie. The meat was pink and tender with no fat or gristle in it, and there were hard boiled eggs buried like treasures in several different places. The taste was absolutely fabulous. When I had finished the first slice, I cut another and ate that, too.”

I have always been hypnotized by this description, but how to reproduce it? No recipe is included, not even in Memories with Food at Gipsy House, his cookbook, which I searched first. A certain amount of detective work was required.

Like any detective, I began by examining the clues. What did we know, I mean really know, about the pie in question? The facts, ma’am? From the sole passage Dahl left us with, we know these things:

  1. The pie is eaten in England.
  2. The pie is served cold.
  3. The pie is enormous.
  4. The pie has sides, which indicate it is a ‘tall’ pie, not a ‘flat’ pie such as an apple pie. An apple pie is encased in a top and bottom crust like a flying saucer. A tall pie is hand formed or made in a mould and resembles a drum. We have further confirmation from this in the beautiful illustration by Jill Bennett. Bennet was one of Dahl’s original illustrators, and if it were up to me, Quentin Blake would still be waiting for the phone to ring.
  5. The meat in the pie is pink.
  6. The pie contains whole hard boiled eggs.

I began with the first point. Was there, in fact, a tradition of cold meat pies in Britain, or was this just freeform culinary magic whipped up Doc Spencer’s wife, or, more accurately, Roald Dahl’s appetite? It did not take much research to find out that cold meat pies are in fact a British (and New Zealand, interestingly) staple, and that the meat is pork. That took care of points 1 and 2, and solves the question of the meat, which is not specified. However – when pork is cooked, it turns grey, and does not remain pink… unless it is preserved pork. Wikipedia describes the “common pork pie” as follows:

“The common pie uses cured meat. Often produced in moulds or forms, it gives the outside of the pie a very regular shape and the inside filling a pink colour. It is easier, simpler and cheaper to produce in volume, and hence the more common choice for commercial manufacturers.”

Yet this description does not exactly fit our suspect. For one thing, Doc Spencer specifically tells Danny that his wife made the pie, rather than buying it at Sainsburys. Hard boiled eggs are nowhere included. Could the pie in question be Roald Dahl’s description of the handmade, artisanal pork pie known as the Melton Mowbray, after its place of origin in Leicestershire? The Melton Mowbray pie is a premium price pie and as such the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association have been granted protection under the “Protected designation of origin” laws. In other words, just as champagne can come only from Champagne, France, a Melton Mowbray can come only from Melton Mowbray, England.

Shortenill's Wood

Shortenill's Wood

I returned to point 1. Where, so far as I could specify, did Champion take place? Six and a half miles from Hazell’s wood, where Danny and his father go to poach pheasants from the extremely unpleasant landowner Victor Hazell. Did Hazell’s wood exist? It turns out that many Dahl fans have already done their research into the real life location of Champion, and the consensus is that, due to landmarks described (Cobbler’s Hill, the road to Wendover,etc), it takes place in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where Dahl lived in the 1960s, and is buried today. There is no Hazell’s Wood in Great Missenden, but there is a similar wood called Shortenill’s Wood. Good enough for me. Now how far is Great Missenden from Melton Mowbray? According to Google maps, the two towns are 100 miles apart travelling on modern freeways. That’s a fair fraction of the United Kingdom. My conclusion, therefore, is that the pie in question is not a Melton Mowbray, and Doc Spencer’s wife was left to fall back on her own devices and grand tradition of home cooking.

Well, there I was. I knew the meat of the pie and that it was homemade. All that was left was to make one.

Roald Dahl Pork Pie

The British cold pork pie requires three things: pastry, filling, and pork jelly, which is poured in a hole in the top after the pie has been baked and left to set while the pie cools, holding everything together as well as being delicious in itself.

pie 010

Pastry

Pastry has never been my strong suit, and this pastry was tricky. It had to stand up on its own to form the sides. Most pork pies are made in a mould, but something told me Doc Spencer’s wife didn’t use a mould. So I made a pastry out of lard, flour and salt. I will not post the recipe because I’m not happy with it yet, and you could probably do better.

Filling

I’m a lot better with filling. I decided to use uncured pork (violating the description of the original with some pangs of regret). I used shoulder of pork, diced fine but not ground, salt, freshly ground pepper, dried sage and thyme, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. I also hard boiled an egg. I wasn’t making an ‘enormous’ pie (violating the description for the second time), so one would do, right smack in the centre.

Pork Jelly

This was the fun part. Jelly is essentially stock made from bones which has been reduced enough for the gelatin in the bones to overpower the water content and set. Of course, you could always use regular stock and add some aspic. My jelly recipe was something like:

2 lb pork bones (practically free at the Farmer’s market)

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 onion, cut in half, unpeeled

2 sticks celery

2 bay leaves

sprigs of fresh parsley

1 tsp black peppercorns

a bare sprinkling of salt

This is my standard stock recipe. I just put everything in a large pan, cover it with cold water, and simmer for hours, skimming the foam where necessary. When I feel it has reduced enough (i.e. it tastes good), I strain out the ingredients. At this point I can continue to reduce the stock as needed. In this case, I wanted jelly, so I reduced and reduced and reduced. Once cooled, it congealed. I felt it could congeal just a little more, so  when the time came I dissolved a little aspic into the hot stock.

The Process

Forming the case was the hardest part, but it was the whole point, wasn’t it? I rolled out 2/3 of the dough into a neat circle, then, like a potter, began pinching the edges up to form a nice squat pie with slightly bulging rounded sides, the sort of thing a hobbit would eat. It took a while and the pastry kept cracking, which is why I am not posting the recipe. The end result, for structural reasons, was thicker than it should have been, and while tasty, was not all edible. Never mind. Next time I’ll just use a mould.

pie 021

In went the filling, with the hard boiled egg in the centre. Then with the remaining dough I made a pretty lid for the pie, sealing it well so the hot jelly would not leak out. I added two holes to admit a funnel, although I believe one is more traditional. Brushed the whole thing with beaten egg. In it went, to bake in the oven, 350 degrees F for about an hour, until golden brown.

pie 028

When the pie was cool, I heated up my pork jelly into liquidity again, stirred in a touch of aspic, and poured the jelly in through the two holes in the top. It was the moment of truth. Would it leak all over the kitchen?

It didn’t leak. The final, triumphant pie went in the fridge to cool into solidity.

pie 037

Oh, I am happy with my first pork pie. It was beautiful, the meat tasty, the hard boiled egg like a little hidden treasure as described, and the jelly delicious. The pastry was a little too thick. I will buy a small, tall pie mould when I can find one, and continue to experiment. But right now, I’m a little closer to the world of Roald Dahl, and that is reward in itself.

Jill Bennett

35 comments to Daniel Wolff, Food Detective

  • I love this post from top to bottom. A love letter to one of my favorite writers, in mouth-watering description. Delicious.

  • Muzhik

    Sounds spiffy! This will go into my “gotta-make-this-someday” pile, which is already taking over part of the bedroom and edging its’ way into the hallway.

  • Peter

    A common way to hand raise the crust is to use a wooden dolly, basically just a cylinder of wood with a handle at the top. If you have a thick enough rolling pin, that would probably do the job. Push it into your lump of pastry dough to form the base, and draw the pastry up the sides.

    Pork pies don’t usually have an egg in the middle, not that there’s anything wrong with that idea. What is described in the book sounds more like a gala pie, though those are usually loaf-shaped, not round. Its meat content is much the same as a pork pie, and eggs are placed in it along its length, nose to tail, so to speak.

    All that said, yours looks like a perfectly fair effort, and my mouth is watering!

  • And is that a bowl of mashed turnips on the side, with the peas?

  • War Pig

    Fascinating. Just fascinating. Of course, I have eaten Melton Mowbray in England and it was delicious, but I rather like your approach to it. The trick, as I see it, is to make the crust as thin as possible yet still keep in the juices of the meat as it cooks and the liquid pork jelly later. You should not castigate yourself over a thick crust as I love pastry crusts. I make pie crust cookies for myself and others all the time. Lard was a good choice for the crust as it holds up better to liquids than vegetable shortening, I believe.

    You all never cease to amaze me. Small wonder this is one of my favorite websites.

  • @War Pig: thanks, that’s very kind. Did it look like the Melton Mowbrays you ate were made in a mould?

  • War Pig

    Close for homemade. Here’s what they look like in the UK when made commercially in a mold.

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/robert.sewell/melton1.jpg

    I think I’d prefer yours. I love a good crust. Theirs is far too straight and factory-looking.

    This is what they looked like when homemade by a local woman who had a good reputation.

    http://ts3.mm.bing.net/images/thumbnail.aspx?q=1593271401122&id=393de582e1e4b55eb9bd3dda0a6dfdc0

    The homemade you’ll see is closer to yours. It also tasted much better than the commercial type. I think she used real creamery butter (the heavy sort, from a wheel like the Amish do it – not whipped at all) in her crust, but I could be wrong. Tasted buttery. I don’t even know how many people make them at home anymore in the UK. Probably many less than the last time I was there for any time other than passing through. In the nineties. Home made Yorkshire puds are bcoming a lost art, I hear.

    OBTW, you may want to try a tall, spingform pan or mold for the pie if you can find one cheaply. Getting that tall, heavy S.O.B. out of a tall pie or cake pan with solid walls and bottom could be a bear. I’d butter (or grease) the pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper (or maybe line the whole thing), then butter (or grease) the parchment paper again before inserting the pie to bake if using a regular pie or cake pan. I’d also make sure that the crust was firmly in contact all around the bottom corner of the pan to avoid voids (that sounds strange).

    Some of the pork pies had the egg in them, some didn’t. Both were very good, especially when home made by a farm woman using their own, home-butchered pork. The English have several legacy breeds of pig we don’t use here and they have a distinct flavor. I think I preferred the ones with the egg as it varies the taste a bit.

  • Beautiful post.

    Have you considered adding extra gluten to the crust? It makes it super stretchy without breaking. Although I’m not sure how traditional it is. Maybe also add some vodka, which should help make it more workable and mostly evaporate during baking. Also not very traditional. :)

  • [...] segway here, my friend Dan just posted a new recipe over at cookrookery for cold meat pie, inspired by Roald Dahl’s “Danny The Champion of the World” (one of my favorite [...]

  • War Pig

    Those are good ideas, Christopher.

  • Huh. I didn’t even know you could buy gluten. I suppose they have to do something with that excess gluten they remove from all those other products.

  • War Pig

    Why is my one post still waiting moderation?

  • @War Pig – hey, that was strange. No idea, unless it was because of the links? I was wondering why you hadn’t replied! I had to go in and approve it, which I’ve never had to do before. Silly wordpress.

    I agree the molded pies look kind of commerical and off putting, but I feel I’ll probably make more if I don’t have to deal with the task of shaping the pastry by hand. Like fresh pasta, it’s something I want more often than can be bothered to make. I was thinking one of the really tiny springforms, like 6″, would be perfect. Of course then I’d need smaller eggs. Quail, maybe. Getting gourmet now.

    You’ll be pleased to hear Yorkshire pudding in the form of toad-in-the-hole is a regular at our table.

  • War Pig

    That’s good to hear. Tasty, too.

    Maybe that was the reason, the links. Hmmm.

    Yeah, they make large and smaller ones in the UK. Big pies for dinners I suppose and smaller, individual pies. The smaller ones are almost tarts. I am all about pastry crust. Love it in all its forms. Standard pie crust, croissants, pot pies, pigs in a blanket. All good.

    All the same, a 6″ springform would’t look too bad and it may actually brown the crust well, or at least to a golden stage. Better than bigger ones. I admit that worrying about a burst side crust would be a major concern and greatly reduced by the pan.

    I will eat Yorkshire puds for breakfast especially if made into toad in the hole. Of course, I like fried kippers for breakfast, too, so I’m a bit strange. Fried Spam, potato pancakes, fried mush, buckwheat pancakes, you name it. All breakfast to me. I don;t know why Yorkshire pud appeals to me as a breakfast food, but it does, much like very thick, brown and rich sausage gravy over fried potatoes or toast appeals to me for breakfast. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, especially if I don’t have to cook it. ;-) Scrambled eggs w/cheese, thick gravy or the pud, potato pancakes or fried cornmeal mush, pancakes or biscuits or even Belgian waffles. And of course breakfast meat. Ham, bacon, sausage, kippers, leftover steak, by themselves or anything in an omelet. Ham/cheese, hamburger, bacon, onions, jalapeno slices, omelets are nature’s way of recycling leftovers. Plus lots of good, hot, black coffee.

    Another fave of mine for brekky is cornbread and milk. Better than any commercial cold cereal.

  • Anything with two or more links gets put into the cue for “moderation,” this is because the majority of “comment spam” is loaded with links and so it helps cut down on that.

  • Oh, and yeah. Gluten, I know you can find it with the Bob’s Red Mill stuff. Not only is it good to make stretchy dough like pizza crusts of cinnamon rolls, but even for making seitan which is almost purely gluten (which makes it REALLY high in protein).

  • War Pig

    Isn’t seitan sort of like tofu – a meat substitute?

    -WP

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig –
    If it’s like tofu I want nothing to do with it. Thinking about “meat substitutes” makes me think of decaffeinated coffee: a scary-looking officer standing over me shouting “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

    I’ll gladly consume the scorched flesh of slaughtered animals rather than handle anything that’s not like the truth. I also drink my coffee with the spoon standing upright, cowboy style.

  • War Pig

    I put nothing in my coffee, so no need for a spoon. Black, hot, strong.

    Yeah, tofu is, as I read in a comic, the love child of Styrofoam and Jello.

    I eat meat, lots of meat; red meat, white meat, the other white meat, and even the other-other white meat (possum), and the other-other-other white meats, alligator and snake. If there is a quadruple-other white meat, it has to be conch and I eat it, too. Love conch fritters in Key West, the capital of conch.

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig,

    Funny, you never struck me as a conch potato.

    And the spoon isn’t for stirring things into the coffee. It’s for scooping out pieces of coffee to put in your mouth.

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik,

    Ugh, I’ll drink mine like a man.

    Conch is pretty good, actually. Best place to get it in Key West used to be the Island Dogs bar. Ask for the conch fritters and spicy dipping sauce. Goes great with whiskey. My GF prefers the dragonberry mojito but I eschew fruity drinks and drink my bourbon neat or at most with ice.

    I was stationed in Key West in the mid 70s (Marines), long before it became a trendy place. To tell the truth, I liked it better then. Fewer bars but better ones. More character and they got to know the regulars well. Even rents were affordable then.

    I never had a real key lime pie until I had one there. When you use real Key limes fresh off the trees instead of whatever they use in mass-market pies, it tastes quite different and much better. Real Key limes also go great with tequila.

    Shrimp used to be so cheap there it was considered an everyday item on most people’s home tables. We used to snorkel or scuba and catch spiny lobsters and spear fish for cookouts, and grill the lobster tails right beside skewers of shrimp and big fish fillets. It was cheaper than hamburgers.

    The old days are gone, as we old-timers always say. ;-)

  • Ate conch in Nicaragua. Nice taste, I wasn’t crazy about the mealy texture, but then shellfish always has to have something slightly offputting about it for full effect.

  • War Pig

    Conch shouldn’t be mealy. If it is, it’s usually either overcooked, like shrimp get tougher, chewy and mealy when overcooked. Conch tastes to me like a cross between frog legs and alligator tail with a dash of clam.

    I’ve had oysters fried and in dressing or scalloped with crackers. Cooked oysters always have a slight mealy mouthfeel to me. I prefer oysters live, on the halfshell. I don’t care for them raw and dead, out of a freezer or a can, lumped together w/out their shell. Nope, straight out of the brine while I wait, and shucked on the spot. Then a good, dark beer and some Tabasco are all I need for a few dozen of them. YUM!

    Conch is meaty, tasty and very good when deep fried lightly into fritters or slow cooked in stews. Better than chicken to me. When cleaning them you can, rarely, find a conch pearl. They are usually very pink in color, as if dyed. I had a couple about ten mm in size and gave them, one apiece, to my daughters. I had them set as a pendant with gold chains and they got them for Christmas one year.

  • Back when I ate oysters raw was definitely the way to go. After moving to the Pacific Northwest and discovering oysters were cheap, I gorged. Unfortunately, I overdid it, and now I can’t go near them. Sad.

  • War Pig

    I had a surfeit of Chinese pot-stickers once, haven’t eaten them since. Hunger was an issue and that was all they had left. I bought all they had and ate every one. Bad move. Mark Twain mentioned a surfeit of I believe it was tomatoes, in his short story; “Hunting The Deceitful Turkey”. He didn’t eat them thereafter. I wonder how a surfeit effects you physiologically, to create such a disgust that lasts for many years. I wonder what the evolutionary mechanism is, why do surfeits cause later repugnance? It would seem some weeks to months later things would be fine, but mine vs pot-stickers has lasted some 30 years. Even thinking about them as I type this makes my stomach go “I don’t think so”. Odd.

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig, what you did was trigger your body’s anti-poison mechanism. Unless you’ve got some other problems, you can usually remember the past four or five meals you’ve had. That way, you can review what you’ve eaten and decide what made you sick. In the case of pot stickers for you or oysters for Daniel (oyster pot stickers — yum) your overindulgence triggered the same biological reaction that you would get if you had eaten something spoiled or poisonous. Thus, your body, as a survival mechanism, will discourage you from eating them again.

  • War Pig

    That’s sort of what I guessed, with reservations. I am allergic to tomatoes (makes my mouth look as if I gargled fire ants) so they taste awful to me (but I can eat pureed tomato products if they are well cooked, such as tomato sauce and paste and of course, ketchup).

    However, I didn’t actually get sick on the pot stickers. Oh, I was over-full, but not to the point of pain or distention. They were good, I just ate too damn many of them because I was half-starved. Then after that the sight of them gave me the aversion reaction. I thought it would take an adverse bodily reaction such as vomiting or diarrhea or heartburn or distention to set off the avoidance reaction.

    On the other hand, bhut jolokia (ghost, naga, cobra) peppers kick my butt, but I have no avoidance reaction to them. Even though I am deeply sorry I ate one at first bite (and for several hours after) and again the next day upon exit (hee-hee), after a few weeks to a few months I will eat one again and repeat the process of regret.

    Oh, well, must have been something in the stickers, as you said, that my body did not appreciate. Maybe the Chinese were trying to poison me? ;-)

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik

    PS: That is a cool fact about remembering the last 5 meals or so for a reaction. Not heard that or thought about it before. I tried it and yes, I can remember what I ate over the last two days. Interesting. I thank you for increasing my knowledge of an out-of-the-way fact.

  • Muzhik

    Your suggestion about “something in the stickers” is probably spot on. Yes, you usually do have to experience nausea or vomiting after eating a food to develop an aversion to it (it’s why if the first time you get drunk and throw up was on tequila sunrises you’ll never be able to drink tequila again, even if that was back in high school) (don’t ask), it could just as easily be an allergic reaction to a spice or ingredient.

    For years my ex thought she had developed an allergy to tomatoes, it turns out that she can eat fresh tomatoes just fine, or plain tomato sauce. The stuff they put on pizza, though, now makes her mouth swell.

    Oh, and regarding your description of your reaction to ghost peppers reminded me of two things. One is a plot line in Christopher’s web comic “Space Trawler” where a race describes the kind of fecal storm they’re going to drop on a planet as what happens after a night of eating spicy food (even though none of them have eaten spicy food before) — find it here: http://spacetrawler.com/2012/02/14/

    The other thought is about another web comic I follow, “Schlock Mercenary”, where the author once tweeted about his reaction to the ghost pepper flakes a fan had sent him — something about spending a night in misery then spending the next morning looking for foods on which he could sprinkle the ghost pepper flakes.

    (Come to think of it, if you aren’t reading Schlock Mercenary now, you’d probably enjoy it. “That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.”)

  • Muzhik

    Getting back to the original subject of this blog posting, the New York Times food section recently had an article about apple pie (”Pie Fidelity”, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/sam-sifton-apple-pie.html?_r=2&WT.mc_id=GN-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M241-ROS-0212-HDR&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=180543) where the author not only gives the recipe for the pie used at a New York restaurant, but also the crust recipe. One thing this chef does is beat an egg yolk and add it to the ice water that’s used to make the crust.

    The article had 119 comments in two hours before the comments were closed. Talk about your religious wars! Should you pre-cook the apples? Yes, because then you reduce the chance of dome top; no, because otherwise you’ll just have applesauce. I don’t know how this chef can be allowed in the kitchen, because that’s not the way my grandmother used to make pies; yeah, well I’ll bet your grandmother stooped to using nutmeg in her pie filling, too!

    I think pulling out “grandma” in a cooking debate is like playing the Nazi card in a political debate: it may be true, but you need to be very careful in how you play that card. In any case, when Lent is over I think I’ll just have to make a pie, and try both the egg yolk (or the gluten — both add protein to the dough) and the chilled vodka. I’ll let you know the results.

  • War Pig

    I read both Schlock and Trawler. Have been reading Schlock for years now (Close air support covereth a multitude of sins). Enjoy them both, as I enjoyed Little Dee before Trawler.

    I am a little crazy, my kids say, about spice, especially capsicum. My consumption of Tabasco and habaneros mystifies them. Nor can I explain it myself. Body chemistry, is all I say. The benefit is that I never have real heartburn and have never had an ulcer. For me, jalapeno slices and pickles are pretty much interchangeable. I have also been looking for some way to make still hotter chili, but apparently plutonium is a controlled substance.

    My daughters claim I am more than a little mad, north-northwest, when it comes to sandwiches. Dagwood Bumstead has nothing on me. Peanut butter, horseradish, jalapeno jelly, Tabasco, sardines, mayonnaise, bread & butter pickles, aged Swiss cheese, fried bologna and a fried egg on pumpernickel is a sandwich I was eating one day when my elder daughter came in my house (she was pregnant at the time) took one good look, took one sniff and promptly spent the next twenty minutes in the bathroom emptying her stomach, poor child. She called me a bad name, yet this is the same child who, a week before, called me a demigod for making her a chocolate crème brûlée when she was craving chocolate like a crackhead fresh out of jail craves crack.

  • Muzhik

    It looks like I screwed up my earlier post, so I’ll try again. Re: your attempt to make a hotter chili, have you tried mixing the ghost pepper flakes with chocolate? Kinda like, “Asia Meets Cincinnati”

    If you do try this, don’t use an aluminum pot. Aluminum melts at around 1,000 degrees.

  • War Pig

    Hehehe. True. I have a titanium pot I won in a raffle where they were trying to sell titanium cook sets. I’ll try that.

    I’ve not tried chocolate or cocoa in my chili. Lord knows I’ve tried a lot of other things, though, including cassia essential oil. I figured chocolate would jump back out, yelp and run away. Sort of like the ice cubes Courage the Cowardly Dog threw in the lava at the bank.

    I tried “pure cap” which is concentrated capsaicin (illegal to buy now) but it is all heat and no flavor and can be literally deadly. My hottest so far has bhut jolokia puree (one pepper), scorpion pepper flakes (1/8 teaspoon, birds eye chili puree (six) and I use venison for the meat. Venison holds the pepper flavor and heat better than beef, mutton or pork. I decorate it with habanero rings and a “DEFCON 5″ sign. Onions of course, but no tomatoes or beans. I use chipotle and bacon for the smoky flavor and the rendered bacon fat sautes the onions and things nicely, plus allows me to brown the venison for a more robust flavor.

  • Muzhik

    Hmmm… Interesting. I usually don’t like venison, but this might soften it up enough to be chewable. I’m trying to figure out which is best: cocoa powder, ground baker’s chocolate, or a ground-up Hershey’s bar. Each of those has varying amounts of sugar and fat, which of course will affect the sensation of heat.

    The experiment will have to wait. My daughter has convinced me to try living on Indian food for a week or so. (or as she once described it, “vegan with restrictions”). I’ll let you know how it turns out, provided I still have the strength at the end to type on the keyboard.