From Burnt Tomatoes to Lamb Chili (with Corn Bread Goldfish)

This meal was a redirection after I ruined what I was originally making.

Blanched and ready to peel.

I still have lots of volunteer tomatoes.  I pick them while they are pink and after few days on the counter, they are red and ripe. While I was working from home one afternoon, I decided to make tomato sauce.  I must have actually been working, because I forgot about the tomatoes simmering on the stove, and when I checked on them, they were thick and sticking to the bottom of the cast iron pot they were cooking in.  But, they weren’t totally burnt and after I tasted them, I thought this would probably might make a good not horrible chili.

I added a little bit of chili powder, a little cayenne pepper  and a couple of dashes of sriracha sauce (I didn’t measure anything for this whole process.  If you need exact amounts, I can’t help you today.)  I didn’t add too much spicy stuff because I didn’t want it to be too hot; must have been feeling particularly kid friendly this evening.  To thin it out, now that it needed to be chili, I added several cups of chicken stock (3 cups maybe).  I chopped and sautéd 1/4 onion and some minced garlic in olive oil and added that to the chili.  I also chopped the last of my roasted peppers and added 1-2 cups of stewed tomatoes to increase the tomato-iness of the chili.

Since I only have dried beans and it was too late to soak any, I skipped beans.  Looking in the freezer, I found a package marked “lamb neck” and decided that sounded chili-worthy.

I defrosted my lamb in the microwave, and when I opened the package, it had three slices  about 1″ thick of meat around the central bone.  There was little fat and they slipped right into my pan of simmering chili.  I allowed this to simmer for the rest of the afternoon.

When we got close to dinner time, I pulled out our fish shaped corn bread pans and decided to try a new corn bread recipe –  I was obviously in a mood to take risks!  I opened up my Baking Illustrated, and read a treatise on Northern v. Southern cornbread.  I had once tried a Southern cornbread from another cookbook, and we almost tore the pages out of the cookbook.  It was flat, dry,  crumbly and definitely not edible!  Rather than deface a beautiful book, we simply annotated that page to mention we thought it was “starvation food” and warn us to never try that particular recipe again.

After my cornbread history lesson, I wanted to make Northern cornbread, but in the cupboard, my husband had bought white cornmeal, which the book said was definitely Southern cornbread makings.  So off we go straight to bastardizing recipes again.

The adults in my daughter’s life  have impressed upon her that baking is much more scientific than other areas of cooking and it is important to follow the recipes very closely.  I feel like I ought to hide what I am doing when I go off recipe while baking.  I am so ashamed….

Here is what I did:

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large bowl, combine with whisk:

  • 1 c. white cornmeal
  • 1 c. unbleached flower
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 4 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then into the well, add:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 greek yogurt  (this is all I had left, and since I didn’t have any buttermilk…)
  • 1 c. milk

Stir all these ingredient until almost combined, then add:

  • 2 T. melted unsalted butter.

Stir until everything is combined.

Spray cast iron pan (fish or otherwise) with cooking spray and place into preheated oven for 5 minutes.

Pull the heated pan from the oven and pour batter into the pan.  For my goldfish, I try to fill about 2/3 full, making sure I get some batter in the tail.  Baking time varies depending on the shape of the pan.  My fish take about 20 minutes.  When I do a square 9″ x 9″ pan it takes about 40 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

The fish pans are finally cured enough that the cornbread pops out fairly easily, particularly when the pan has been pre-heated.  The first few times, cornbread stuck in the fins and it was not pretty or fun to remove the stuck cornbread afterward.

Turning my attention back to the chili, the lamb had been simmering for about 3 hours.  I removed the slices from the pan and pulled the meat off the bones, cutting larger chunks into about 1″ pieces.  The pieces got added back to the chili, and it was time to eat!

Tomato Chili Con Carne

A school of Corn Bread Fish

It ended up a nice tomato-y chili and you can’t go wrong with corn bread goldfish!  🙂

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About csamom

Living in Eastern Washington State for the past 15 years, I appreciate the wonderful produce we have available here. I am a working mom, with the typical active family. We have two children, a cat, a fish, and a snake.
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3 Responses to From Burnt Tomatoes to Lamb Chili (with Corn Bread Goldfish)

  1. I’d give just about anything for a goldfish cast iron mold! Where did you get that???

  2. csamom says:

    That is kind of a funny story. I found one at Ranch & Home in Kennewick and was super proud because it was really cool. My husband was working in Wyoming at the time, and when I elatedly told him about my “find”, he informed me he had just found one in Wyoming that he had bought for me. He was disappointed that I had one already. The next time I went to visit him, I brought it home and my suitcase was really heavy. I bet that looked funny going through airport security!

    I am glad we have two though. Making only 5 fish at a time would not be sufficient.

  3. The fish are adorable. I could totally eat those.

    I have never heard of Northern vs Southern cornbread. I guess I assumed that it was all Southern?

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