Tag Archives: masa

The Gentleman Eats Chili


The Gentleman Caller at The Lion King Broadway’s Annual Chili Cookoff with fellow judges Rema Webb and Eric Heger

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Hello, friends. Happy Super Bowl Eve. What an exciting time. It’s like the sports world’s version of the Tony Awards. Probably with the same amount of performance enhancing drugs. I’M KIDDING.

Today I had the distinct honor of being asked to adjudicate at The Lion King on Broadway’s Annual Chili Cookoff. This yearly event is a staple of Super Bowl time.

And instead of having to COOK, I got to sit on my ass and have delicious, hot food brought to me.

These were some creative entries. One that I especially salivated over was a sparerib barbecue style chili. Ooh, it was rich. So good.

The most creative entry was my old friend, Jon Jordan’s. Jon and I met on Hairspray and he had his mits on my scalp quite a bit. He is the man who makes sure all the hair and makeup at The Lion King are on point. He entered an adorable Asian-style chili with Chinese five spice, served in a Chinese takeout box with green onion. So creative.

The winner was a spicy turkey (we found out after the fact) entry called Hello, Chili! Hello, indeed! Congrats to my new friend Jelani Remy for his victory.

In honor of today’s festivities, I offer you The Gentleman’s Favorite Spicy Chili.

What you need:

  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • half of a white onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-10 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1-8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp Mexene chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cayenne, or more if you’re adventurous
  • 1 cup of Mexican beer, such as Corona
  • 2 tbsp masa harina (corn flour like you use for tamales)
  • 1 15 oz can red kidney beans (YES, I am a Texan and I say BEANS), drained
  • finely chopped white onion, to top
  • chopped de-seeded jalapenos, to top
  • chopped cilantro, to top

Note: if you happen to have a can of chipotle peppers open, a couple of spoons of sauce from the can is going to only make this more delicious.

Yields 4 realistic servings. 

Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven. Heat it up a little, and throw in the onions. Allow them to cook for a few minutes; add the beef or turkey. Brown the meat.

Throw in the garlic.

Drain the fat off the meat if there is standing renderings. Add the Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir together and add all the spices. Stir, cover, bring to a low simmer.

Allow to cook for about 25 minutes covered. Add 1/2 cup of beer. Simmer 25 more minutes, then add the remaining beer.

In a small bowl, mix the masa with 1/3 cup water (or more beer if you like). Bring it to a smooth consistency and pour it into the chili pot.

Taste it. Assess the salt and spice level. Add more water, beer, or masa to bring to the consistency YOU like.

Add the kidney beans and allow to cook about 15 minutes. Allow it to rest before you eat it.

When you place the chili in a bowl to eat, top it with finely chopped raw onion (or scallion would be nice , too), finely chopped jalapeño, and cilantro. Yeehaw!

Enjoy this one.


The Gentleman Caller

Judging is very serious (with Rema Webb and Eric Heger)

The Gentleman Caller’s All Purpose Chili Sauce #1

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy New Year, spicy friends.

Are you looking forward to 2017 as much as I am? We always can choose hope over fear. And that’s what we do here at The Gentleman Caller: I am choosing to hope you love this recipe rather than fear it burns your tongue off.

I am kidding! You know I love spicy things, but this, despite being full of chilies, is actually deep in flavors without being overly hot.
Today I present to you The Gentleman Caller’s All Purpose Chili Sauce #1. I say #1 because there will likely be sequels, like with a good movie franchise. Consider this my sauce franchise. Most people think that by the time you get to #3 the franchise has lost its luster, but I promise you that in my sauce franchise I will not offer you a “Rocky 7”, a “Halloween 3”, or a straight to video “The Return of Jafar.” May they all be “The Empire Strikes Back.”

This is an all purpose sauce for use on top of tamales, burritos, really anything Mexican. Yes, I am bastardizing Mexican cooking. I am not Mexican. I am TEXican. Take it or leave it. But when you taste it, you are going to want to TAKE IT.

What you need:
(This is to yield about 2 cups)

  • 8 cloves garlic*
  • 1/4 white onion, rough chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lard (or shortening or vegetable oil)
  • 14-16 guajillo dry chili peppers
  • 1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes**
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 allspice berry, freshly ground (1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 whole clove, freshly ground (1/8-1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon masa harina
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey, pork, or vegetable stock

*If you are a garlic lover (as I am) you may use 8, 10, up to 12 cloves of garlic. If you do, add a little more honey.
**You may substitute Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies for a bit more punch.

Use your kitchen shears to snip the stem off your chilies. Cut a slit up the center of the skin; use your thumb to remove the seeds.
Fill a saucepan or metal mixing bowl half full of very hot water (over 120 degrees). In a dry cast iron or any pan that gets really hot, roast the chilies on high heat till they begin to smoke a bit. You will be able to smell them. Transfer the chilies to the hot water bowl. They should be covered. Allow steeping for at least 15 minutes.

In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of the lard. Sauté the onion. As the onion cooks, smash the garlic cloves and add them to the onion/lard sauté. Add the tomatoes to sort of deglaze them. Add half the chicken stock and allow to come to simmer. By  now the chilies should have steeped. Add them to this mixture. Pour this entire mixture into a blender carafe and process at high speed until very smooth. Warning: hot liquid in the blender tends to explode on you. Either leave the lid ajar or process in half batches.

Once that mixture is smooth, you can re-use the pan or Dutch oven you just used to melt the remaining lard. Delicately whisk in the masa. Keep stirring as it begins to bubble. Add all the spices and allow them to open up. Pour the contents of the blender into the masa mixture. Whisk it as it comes to a simmer. If it’s too thick, add more stock. Add the honey. Taste for salt level; based on how salty your stock is, you might require more salt.

Simmer while whisking slowly for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit and marry.
Taste again before serving to test for salt and sweet levels. If it needs it, add more salt or honey. You be the judge. Be judicious.

This sauce is obviously not difficult and packs a flavor wallop. You can dip quesadillas in it. You can pour it on simple ground beef for tacos. I invented it for tamales. But we pour Ranch dressing on anything. Think of this as Tex-Mex Ranch Dressing.
That’s it for now. Olé caballeros.
The Gentleman Caller


TAMALE TAMALE TAMALE! The Gentleman’s Holiday Tamale-day

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I used to live much further uptown than I presently do. I didn’t much care for it. If I can avoid the perils of humanity that one encounters on the New York City subway, I certainly do.

But there used to be (probably still is) a little Columbian or Dominican or Guatemalan or Salvadoran (you get the gist) lady at the subway exit. She had an igloo ice chest with her and she would yell, “TAMALE TAMALE TAMALE!” And people bought tamales.

In many Latin American cultures, making tamales at Christmastime is a beloved tradition. I love tamales. When I was a kid, after we’d slaughter a cow, we’d take the head to this old Mexican lady, and she would make us batches and batches of delicious, greasy tamales.

The Gentleman Caller is not in the practice of stewing cow heads. Not that I wouldn’t, it’s just not super accessible to me presently. However, we are definitely going to make some tamales.

In this recipe, I am repurposing leftover holiday turkey! Hooray, a very well cloaked use for holiday turkey. I also brought the fat content waaaay down. I am (unapologetically) using lard. You can use shortening. But lard is more traditional, and you aren’t using that much.

So don your sombrero and let’s cook.

What you need:

  • 1/2 pound spicy chorizo, uncased
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 large white onion, diced
  • 10 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons fajita seasoning
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic flakes
  • 2 teaspoons onion flakes
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis
  • 1 1/2 pounds leftover turkey, white, dark or both**
  • 3/4 cup lard or shortening
  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 quart plus 1/2 cup (approximate) chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 30 dried corn husks

*Toss garlic cloves with oil. Put them in a foil pouch in the oven at 250 for an hour or so. 

**You may substitute rotisserie chicken or any other leftover poultry. 

Put your corn husks in a large bowl with warm water covering them. Allow to sit at least an hour.

In a dutch oven, bring olive oil to near smoking. Add chorizo and onion, stirring and breaking up the chorizo. Add the roasted garlic and get it smashed into the mixture. When the sausage is cooked, add paprika, fajita seasoning, chili powder, garlic flakes and onion flakes. Let the spices open up on the heat. This is probably starting to stick a little, so throw in the Rotel. The liquid will deglaze a bit. Add the 1/2 cup stock. Add the leftover turkey. Turn the heat to low. Allow to cook on low till the meat is shred-able. Allow it to cool.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the lard at high speed until it’s creamy and whippy (yes, I just invented that word). Stir masa, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and white pepper together in another bowl. Add to the lard one cup at a time. After the third cup of dry ingredients, you may start incorporating the stock as well. Alternate dry mixture and stock. Mix just until everything is smooth.

Set up your work station.

Take a couple of corn husks and tear them into 1/3 inch strips. These are your ties. You may also use cooking twine.

Assemble your bowls in an order that makes sense to assemble these suckers. Leave the husks in water; you’ll need to continue to wet your hands as you mash the masa.

Lay a corn husk down on the work surface. Take approximately 1/3 cup masa mixture and mash it into a rectangle. Please refer to the video; it is helpful. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling to the center of the masa. Roll the two edges together, smoosh from the bottom up like a tube of toothpaste, and tie a simple knot across the middle with your corn husk ties.

Repeat. And repeat.

Find a tall pot. Put a steamer basket in the bottom. Line the bottom with corn husks. Put enough water in the bottom to just reach the husks.

Stand the tamales upright in the pot. Leaning them into the sides of the pot helps. Put a lid on the top. Crank up the gas so the water simmers.

About every 15 minutes, check the water level. You will need to add water.

Steam for about an hour. You’ll be able to see when the dough is done. An hour, an hour and fifteen should do it.

Allow them to cool in the pot.

You can eat these plain as they are right now, or you can top them. I am going to make a chili sauce for topping. Here’s the link: http://thegentlemancaller.net/the-gentleman-callers-all-purpose-chili-sauce-1/

These freeze really well. Just leave them in the husk, wrap with foil and place in a zip top bag in the freezer. To reheat, allow to thaw, cover with a clean, wet kitchen towel and microwave.

Holy frijoles, these are deliciouso. Olé for now.

xo – The Gentleman Caller