Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Several years back, when I had more money to travel than I do now, I would drive over to Reelfoot Lake in extreme north west Tennessee to stay at the Blue Basin Cove Bed and Breakfast, owned by Mrs Nancy Moore. I went to bird watch and fish, and I went to walk the dirt roads atop the great levees.
Landside, I looked out over fields of sorghum and cotton. Corn fields born of the farmers' ethanol dreams and rice paddies flooded to attract Snow Geese and ducks as they left the North Country for the Mississippi Flyway, that immense avian migratory river.
And if I turned as I stood, if I turned my back on the farm fields, I would look down onto the flood plain and over at the Father of Waters- the Mississippi River.
Wide in high water and narrowed by sandbars visible in drought- no matter what season it was, no matter if it was spring with sweet songs from Baltimore Orioles in the cottonwoods or winter with wintering bald eagles in the trees, the Great River was always carrying the barges relentlessly up and down. So travel the goods of a nation.
Nancy Moore told me one day about the cooks who signed on for lengthy river trips and fed the bargemen three squares a day. And had I not been locked down by dogs I thought I might run away and become a barge cook-
When I made this chili con carne this morning with country breakfast sausage as the meat, I thought about the bargemen, for this is just the kind of food they would eat as they came southward past the sandbars and eddies and dangerous sunken trees-
Fried eggs, hash browns, corncakes, pancakes, biscuits, bacon, sausage- food for the working man with a long ,and at times, anxious day.
1 pound breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 medium yellow onion,diced.
2 tbs olive oil
One 28 oz can good quality diced tomatoes
Two 15 oz cans kidney beans
Salt to taste
Chili Powder to taste. I used about two tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning(optional)
A few drops of Yucatan Sunrise or some other Habenero hot sauce(Optional)
Saute the onion in the olive oil until it is golden and soft. Then add the sausage in pieces, and as it cooks break it up with a wooden spoon. Do this over medium heat.
When the sausage is cooked through add the kidney beans and the tomatoes. Do not drain the beans, but add the bean liquor to the pot.
Stir well, then begin to add the seasonings. This dish can absorb a lot of chili powder, and only you know how little or much you want.
The same can be said of how much salt you add. Add the adobo and hot sauce if you like. Lower the heat to low medium and allow to cook another fifteen minutes or so.
This should serve at least four.