Cooking With Columbo | The Johnny Cash Chili Bowl Cook-along

Cooking with Columbo20 February marks the 50th anniversary of Prescription Murder – the first pilot episode of Columbo, the US murder mystery series starring Peter Falk as the raincoat-wearing sleuth that ended up running for 10 seasons until 2004. And what better way to celebrate than with the launch of a fantastic new culinary tome from Silver Screen Suppers’ Jenny Hammerton, the author of the Cooking with Joan Crawford Cookbook.

Cooking with Columbo: Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth is a treasury of 100 recipes, collected from Peter and his many co-stars, served up episode by episode alongside a selection of tasty side dishes and kitchen tested tips.

To accompany the book’s release, Jenny has been hosting the Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along (which ends on 20 February and everyone is invited to join in so check it out here), in which foodie fans are whipping up a chili dish based on a recipe by country and western star Johnny Cash (he was the guest in the 1974 episode Swan Song).

Chili was a big favourite of Columbo’s; although he got quite the surprise when Johnny’s version in the episode turned out to be made from squirrel meat. Thankfully Jenny asked everyone to either use beef (or try out the vegetarian version) for the cook-along. I opted for the former and you can see the results that I made live for the cook-along in the video below. Plus, I’ve included the recipe at the bottom on this post.

So what’s the Vincent Price link? Well, not only was Vinnie a big foodie himself (and the author of a number of cookbooks), he was also one of the many guest stars and appeared in Lovely But Lethal alongside Vera Miles, whose recipe appears in the book. Jenny has kindly provided that extract and I’ll be doing a post real soon.

In the meantime, here’s Johnny’s Chili recipe – and as it calls for beer as one of the ingredients, I have of course used a bottle of Hopdaemon’s Vincent Price Ale: Black Cat.

Johnny Cash ChiliJohnny Cash’s Chili
1 lb / 450g ground/minced venison (if available) or ground/minced beef (chuck or sirloin)
1/2 lb / 225g venison steaks (if available) or beef steaks, such as sirloin, or a rump roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon canola/rapeseed oil
24 oz / 680g canned tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 large red bell pepper
2.5 jalapeño peppers (optional)
1/2 habanero pepper (optional)
1 packet McCormick’s Mild Chili Seasoning Mix (or your favorite brand)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup / 32g chili powder (New Mexico chili powder if available)
1/6 cup / 21g cumin
1/2 tablespoon sage
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
15 oz / 400g can black beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can pinto beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can chili beans/kidney beans in chili sauce
12 oz / 340g can kidney beans, drained*
6 oz / 170ml beer
1/8 cup / 25g sugar
A handful of self-rising cornmeal*

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the steak in the oil in batches, draining off some of the fat if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a separate frying pan, brown the ground meat over medium-high heat. Drain off the fat and set meat aside.

With the oil remaining in the pot, brown half the onions and garlic over medium heat until they are caramelized. Now add the well-drained ground beef and steak. Stir and heat it all up. Add the cans of tomatoes, the bell peppers, hot peppers (if using), and the remainder of the onions and garlic. Heat to a brisk simmer, stirring often.

John Carter Cash says that his dad would normally add the spices in the following order, first the chili packet, followed by some salt and black pepper, chili powder, cumin, sage, oregano, and cayenne pepper. John advises tasting the chili and once the spicing it is to your liking, drain the cans of beans and add to the mixture. Now taste again, as the beans mellow the flavor of the chili. Once the chili is to your taste, pour in the bottle of beer. Stir well. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar to your taste. Simmer, covered, for at least another 30 minutes, making sure to stir so the chili does not burn. Now add the cornmeal and stir in.

* If self-rising cornmeal is unavailable, you can make it yourself. Just combine 1 cup / 120g of cornmeal, 1/3 cup / 40g all-purpose/plain flour, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Put the leftover mix in a sealed container and save for your next batch of Johnny Cash chili.
Serves 6








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Vincent Price’s Pumpkin Pie makes for a perfect Thanksgiving treat!

While we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, I shall be getting into the spirit today cooking up this tasty Pumpkin Pie recipe from Mary and Vincent Price’s Come into the Kitchen Cook Book, which was first published in 1969, and got a glorious reprint last year.

Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book coverVINCENT PRICE’S PUMPKIN PIE
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1½ cups canned or mashed cooked pumpkin
3 eggs, well beaten
1½ cups heavy cream
¾ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger

• Make the pie shell with a high scalloped edge, refrigerate for several hours.
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
• In a large bowl (with a pouring lip if you have one) combine the pumpkin with the eggs, then the cream, sugar, salt and spices. Blend well and pour into the chilled pie shell.
• Bake for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 50-65 minutes more, or until knife inserted in center of the pie comes out with only a few flecks clinging to it.
• Chill before serving.

Makes about 8 servings.

Come Into the Kitchen Cook BookVincent Price's Pumpkin Pie



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Pollo Alla Cacciatora | A simple, delicious supper dish from Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes

A Treasury of Great RecipesVincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes is packed with amazing dishes from around the globe, but the one I return to time again is a recipe for Pollo Alla Cacciatora (Chicken Hunter’s Style with Noodles), which they picked up from the famed Royal Danieli luxury hotel in Venice, Italy.

It’s amazingly simple to prepare, using the kind of ingredients that are always plentiful in my kitchen, and it tastes delicious (and at a fraction of the cost of what it probably goes for at the Danieli).

Now, the recipe does call for noodles, but as pasta is never served together with a dish like this, I usually opt for steamed rice. It also recommends using polenta, which I had never tried before – but the results (after a fun and tasty trial) speak for themselves. Check out the photo and recipe below. In the meantime, happy cooking…

Pollo Alla Cacciatora (Chicken Hunter’s Style with Noodles)

olive oil
Green pepper
dried basil
stewed t0matoes

‘Every little Italian restaurant in the United States features its “chicken cacciatora,” but it is far from being the most popular, or even the most typical, dish in Italy. At the Royal Danieli this chicken in its spicy sauce is served with noodles, as in this recipe, or with polenta, cornmeal mush, that has been cut into slices and fried in olive oil. It’s good either way. The real secret of this recipe’s excellence is the red wine added for the last bit of cooking. That’s the master touch.’ VINCENT PRICE

1 Saute: 2 chickens, about 3 pounds cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stir- each, cut into serving portions, in 4 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 cup butter for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides.

2 Add: 2 cups finely chopped onion, 1 green pepper, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is transparent.

3 Add: 1 cup stewed tomatoes and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, cover, and ring occasionally.

4 Add: 1/2 cup dry red wine and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

5 While the chicken is cooking, cook: 8 ounces noodles in a pot of rapidly
boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain.

Serve the chicken and sauce over the hot cooked noodles, or better yet, with slices of fried polenta (see below for recipe).

POLLO ALIA CACCIATORA (Chicken Hunter s Style with Noodles)Fried Polenta Slices

1 quart water
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for frying
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for frying

How to Make It
Step 1: Lightly oil a 6-by-10-inch glass or ceramic dish.

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Cover and cook over low heat, whisking often, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in the butter and cheese, season with salt and pepper and, while hot, pour into the dish. Let stand until room temperature and firm, about 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 4: Cut the polenta into 1-inch-thick slices. In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter in olive oil. Fry the polenta slices over moderate heat until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes per side. And you should get something resembling this…



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