By Cheryle Finley
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I was sure I wouldn’t be the only one already missing Fred & Red’s. I had several calls from readers who were just as upset as me about the closing of a piece of Joplin history, and some of them shared a recipe for similar chili, which I am sharing with you today.
My confusion comes in the lack of oregano in this recipe, which I understand is in the original. I sort of hope this isn’t the original recipe so someone will buy Fred & Red’s and open it back up.
Two important things about this recipe: First and foremost, do not buy ground chuck or ground round. Everyone insisted that plain ground beef is best. And for goodness sake, do not drain it. Secondly, the crackers must be pulverized, not just crushed. You will probably need a food processor to get the finest consistency. I fixed a batch of this chili over the weekend, and I have to say it was pretty close. My brother-in-law, Mike, thought it needed more crushed crackers, but my daughter, Sarah, said they would absorb the grease, which I think would change the taste.
The recipe I used is from Leann Cole, and it calls for one sleeve of crackers, but one of the other recipes I received called for three sleeves so maybe two is the answer. The longer it simmered, the better it got so I’m sure a day or two in the fridge would meld the flavors and produce an even better tasting chili. That’s my plan for next time. I have no idea how many servings this recipe makes so we will just say “a lot.” And, by golly, it was darned good chili.
So, contrary to my initial belief, you can make great chili without a tomato in sight. Many thanks to Leann, Paula Langerot, Rose Shryock and Bobbie Hampshire for getting in touch with me and passing along their recipes. It’s funny how these ladies don’t even know each other and still have the same recipe. I hope this will help fill the void, but honestly, nothing beats sitting on a stool at the counter with your friends enjoying Fred & Red’s spaghetti red.
Tuesday at noon I will visit with Carol Parker on KSNF, and we will feature recipes from the new “Taste of Home Cookbook,” which is now available at the Globe. Be sure to buy your Taste of Home Cooking School tickets as soon as possible, too. With lots of booths and fabulous door prizes, you won’t want to miss a minute of the fun.
Good things from last week — Steak ‘n Shake. Love the burgers and those skinny fries. With nine of us at the table, our server, Alex, was determined not to write down our order, hoping instead to count on his memory. Bless his heart. After about three orders with specific wants, he got out the pencil and pad. I’m glad he did because we all got what we ordered. No room for dessert but maybe next time.
Last week I lost one of my dearest friends in the whole world to cancer. Margaret Mullikin was one of a kind, and in the 20-plus years I knew her, I honestly never heard her say a bad word about anyone. So many great memories of going to garage sales and all-night Christmas shopping. We would try to lock each other in the car so we could get the jump on finding the sale bargains. I once asked her to push my shopping cart just a little longer so I could finish my shopping, then found out later she was walking around with a broken wrist.
We had a good time anywhere we went, but what we really enjoyed was indulging in good food. My daughter, Sarah, would have her friend, Shasta Hatton, spend Saturday nights at our house, and I would load them up in the car at about 11 p.m. for the journey to Jasper where we would pick up Maggie, then make our way to Judy’s Truck Stop for biscuits and gravy. We all looked forward to those nights of eating too much and laughing the entire time. Today’s two other recipes are in honor of Maggie and they are from the “Taste of Home Cookbook.” The strata is a great make-ahead dish that’s super filling and good anytime of the day. It says it yields 12 servings, but my money would be on Maggie and me finishing it off in one sitting. Must have a little chocolate for dessert, and nothing could be easier than the ice cream sandwich dessert. It’s simply store-bought ice cream sandwiches dressed up with lots of good stuff. I believe Maggie and I would have started with this dessert instead of waiting until after our meal to make sure we had plenty of room for it. Thank you, Mags, for the great friendship and wonderful memories. There’s always a place in my heart just for you. I hope everyone has a wonderful week and happy eating.
Spaghetti red chili
6 pounds ground beef
3 (1 ounce) packages Williams chili seasoning
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
4 teaspoons salt
1 sleeve crackers, crushed fine
Brown ground beef. Add the chili seasoning, garlic, cumin and salt. Simmer 15 minutes. Add 2 quarts water and cracker meal: simmer one hour.
Mustard ham strata
12 slices day-old bread, cubed with crusts removed
1 1/2 cups fully cooked ham
1 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cups whole milk
3 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
In a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish, layer the bread cubes, ham, green pepper, cheeses and onion. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard and salt. Pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Yields 12 servings.
Ice cream sandwich dessert
17 miniature ice cream sandwiches, divided
1 (12 ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
1 (12 ounce) carton frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
2 Symphony candy bars with almonds and toffee, chopped
Arrange 14 ice-cream sandwiches in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch dish. Cut remaining sandwiches in half lengthwise; fill in the spaces in the dish. Spread with caramel and whipped toppings. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Sprinkle with chopped candy bars. Cover and freeze for at least 45 minutes. Cut into squares. Yields 15 -18 servings.