Yesterday I worked an all day beauty editor event here in NYC. It’s typically an open house for the launch of a new product. Beauty companies woo editors from magazines and websites, by means of food and drink and free lipstick, to sample their wares in the hopes of getting a glowing write up. These events are usually music to a catering chef’s ears. Easy money. Why? Simple. Beauty editors don’t eat. Period. Full stop. They sip their bubbly and take their free $200 dollar night cream and teeter off on their 5 inch Loboutain boots.
The downfall here? I do eat. I do eat a lot. I do eat three to five times a day, with snacks in between (no, the fourth and fifth times do not count, officially, as snacks). But when I get home from standing and working a 12 hour event, no matter how simple it was, I’m exhausted, starving, and don’t, in the least bit, want to cook. Yes folks, here’s my dirty little secret (well, one of them, anyway). The chef doesn’t always feel like cooking. Hey, I’m sure Mariah Carey wakes up some days and doesn’t feel like hitting a high F either. Still, I have a hubby whom I adore and who is spoiled and accustomed to eating well, and a blog to feed with new recipes. So, what’s my solution? Make dinner the night before.
This has long been a caterer’s best weapon. The advance prep. I had some time this week building up to the event, so I made a huge pot of turkey chili, just in time for the weather to get cool and rainy again. It’s healthy, inexpensive, and full of color and spice. I got home at 7:45, took it out of the fridge, and brought it up to temperature while making a quick batch of corn muffins (full disclosure: in a pinch I use Jiffy boxed muffin mix and toss in some fresh chopped jalapeno, cilantro and scallions. Homemade taste, done in 20 minutes flat). Then I jumped in a hot shower and issued orders to Kevin to stir the pot and take the muffins out when the timer went ding! By the time I was dressed, it was all ready and it almost felt like someone else had made it for me.
So, here you go. One of my best tips. If you plan ahead and make use of a little down time, you can have a home cooked dinner on the days when you need it most (and feel like doing it least).
Turkey Chili (serves 4)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 bottle Mexican lager (ok fine, Corona)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
1 14 oz can chili beans (mix of pinto, kidney and black)
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped, with 1 tsp adobo sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with: chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, sour cream or low-fat plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, and crumbled purple tortilla chips
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil. Add peppers and onions, sauté until soft and golden. Add ground turkey, cook through. Add spices, salt and pepper, cook 30 seconds to allow spices to open up. Add tomato and beer, stir. Boil about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, beans, green chilies and chopped chipotle with adobo sauce. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer one hour. Serve with garnishes and corn muffins or rice.