Robert Mitchum's Border Hash
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup beef stock
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (peeled)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 dried chili peppers (or crushed red pepper or chili powder to taste)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook onion in hot oil until transparent. Stir in beef and garlic powder. Cook until meat begins to brown, stirring often.
2. Mix in beef stock, tomatoes, parsley, chili peppers (or crushed red pepper), oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 30-40 minutes (or until mixture has reduced to a loose-textured, "gloppy" consistency).
3. Serve alone, or top off with poached egg. Serves 6.
Thoughts: Border hash or picadillo as it's better known south of the border, is made in many ways. The Mitchum version is "meaty" and can be reheated and refried with finely chopped green pepper and grated raw potato or served over cooked hot rice. Mexican cooks often use picadillo to fill tacos or empanadas (turnovers). A "sweeter" version of the hash is made with raisins, black olives, almonds (or pine nuts) and sweet spices (cinnamon, allspice or clove).
Robert Mitchum's Chili Wonder
4 strips bacon (or olive oil)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Seasoned flour: 2 parts chili powder to 1 part flour
3 lbs. lean beef (top round) cut in 3/4-inch cubes
About 1 qt. beef stock (or water)
2 tbsps. vinegar
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2-4 tbsps. chili powder mixed with a little water until smooth
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Dash of sugar
2 tsps. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 oz. bitter chocolate, shaved
1. Cook bacon in large stock pot until crisp and brown. Lift out bacon, pour off excess fat so only 3 tbsps. remains (or use olive oil). Brown onions slowly in fat until soft; lift out.
2. Shake cubed beef in seasoned flour; brown quickly on all sides in onion-flavored grease (add more olive oil if necessary). Add browned onions, garlic, beef stock, vinegar, tomatoes, chili powder-water mixture, bay leaves, cumin seeds, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Bring to boil; simmer slowly 3-4 hours. Add chocolate during last half hour. Taste to correct seasonings. Add more liquid during cooking if needed and stir often to prevent sticking. Serve with cooked pinto (or kidney) beans on the side. Top with chopped sweet onion if desired. Serves 8.
Thoughts: Chilicrats may contest eating the Mitchum Wonder without the beans! Bob's a purist, likes his beans on the side and a minimal of seasonings. "Vinegar will tenderize the meat, but the real secret is to add a little piece of bitter chocolate, just as in a good spaghetti," Mitchum advises. (The chocolate is reminiscent of the Mexican classic turkey mole.) Bob's chili was a stew-like consistency, can be made ahead (or frozen) and only tastes better the next day. "Hot" chili buffs may opt for small dried peppers (remove seeds), serrano, jalapeno and mulato chiles (available in Mexican-Spanish food shops), or red cayenne, etc.