I lived 35 miles from Green Bay for 7 years in a city of 9,000 called Sturgeon Bay. Now, living in Northeast Wisconsin makes it obligatory to be a Packer fan. They’re “blue collar”. They’re the “home team”. Back in those days, the mid- to late 80’s, they were really lousy. Those were the Forrest Gregg, pre-Bret Favre days. Tickets at Lambeau were $17 and sometimes you could get into the green-painted, Quonset hut corrugated metal skinned stadium for a pittance. It was fun to go to the stadium on game day and see how cheaply you could buy a ticket—I once scored them for $4 apiece.
But you had to love “da Pack”. They were totally blue-collar. Last week’s playoff game against Chicago was a prime example. You always have 2 favorite teams living in Wisconsin—the Packers and whoever’s playing “da Bearz”. Now, I’m not much of an NFL fan—especially with my “hometeam” as the Chargers. But, in Wisconsin you don’t have to be an NFL fan—just as long as you’re a Packers fan. And that’s always been the case.
Now, Open Salon did a big deal chili recipe thing this last week. And that’s cool—“foodies” making a “foo-foo” version of chili. But chili is like Green Bay and the Packers. It’s proletarian. There’s more versions of chili than you can shake a stick at. The biggest ever chili debates are beans or no-beans and ground meat or chunk meat. Then there’s the how hot to make it debate. Chili implies chili peppers which implies spicy. But there’s a difference between spicy and hot.
There’s a Green Bay version of chili too. And it’s good. Now, I’m not going to go through a whole litany of ingredients and cooking times for chili. Instead what I’m going to do is let you use your favorite recipe and make just a few changes which convert it to “Green Bay Chili”. I’ve also heard it called “Canoe Paddle Chili” too but that’s for when you’re having a bunch of people over and you have to use a pot so big to make it that the only way to stir it is with a canoe paddle. It’s a hoot!
So, what differentiates “Green Bay Chili” from regular chili? It’s pretty simple.
• Make up a big ole pot of your favorite chili.
• Leave out the beans.
• Set up a “buffet” line with the pot of chili as the 2nd to last thing.
• The next to last thing would be a couple of bottles of hot-sauce, a shaker of cayenne, a shaker of chipotle or other hot spices.
• Cook up a pound or two of spaghetti (depending on how many are eating).
• Dice up a bowl of onions
• Drain 2-3 cans of kidney beans and put them in a bowl.
• Put out a bowl filled with shredded cheddar cheese (the only kind to serve in Wisconsin) and put that as the last thing.
That’s it. You have now made “Green Bay Chili”. It’s a great party dish and game day buffet. Use big bowls or even plates. You start with some spaghetti (optional) then add beans and onions—as much or little as you want. Then you smother it with the chili, toss in a bit more heat (as much or as little as you want) and finish it off with shredded cheese which turns the whole thing into gooey goodness.
And finally, a tub of beer and soft-drinks. Now you’ve got a Green Bay-style party. You can eat and slurp your way through this delicious buffet, then watch the second half. By the end of the game you’ll be belching and other things. It’s going to be a fun game and party.
Finally, the old Cheap Bastid gets to pull out his Packer apparel this weekend in honor of the occasion. Couple of problems though. It’s been a while since they’ve been in the Super Bowl. It’s been 19 years since I lived in Wisconsin. The stuff is getting just a bit ratty. The shirt is from their 1996 Super Bowl win. I’ll be wearing it and the rest of the stuff on Sunday. Here’s my “fashion” palate for Super Bowl Sunday:
That’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good, Eat Cheap, Be Grateful!