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Bowl 'Em Over

Chef Bill loves college football … FOOD!

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still stuffed from Christmas mega-feasting? If so, you best hit up the gym, go for a run, do some yoga or something physical to burn off a few of those excess calories, because the holiday eating season ain’t over yet. The galas and parties just keep chugging along, and the week ahead holds many more outstanding excuses to celebrate a wonderful life through the joys of gorging oneself.

I’m not a big New Year’s Eve partier or a New Year’s Day brunch kinda guy. The simple reason: I’ve spent most celebration days working. While others anticipate traditional party days and eves with great relish, to me they’re a way to make extra cash before the restaurant industry’s
“slow season.”

That being said, I’m still in a great mood this week. Ya wanna know why? ’Cause college football bowl season is here! You know, it seems like the span of time between the conclusion of the regular college football season until bowl play begins drags on for months. ESPN bores me for the first time since September. Where are the scores? The upsets? The injury reports? Where’s the drama!?

Yeah, yeah, I get it—there’s still the NFL, but the Jags have definitely ruined professional football for me this year. I really don’t care if other teams are having great years—at this point, I despise them all. Yet that’s OK, because the college bowls satisfy my football needs and make me famished. The way I see it, one good bowl leads to another. So while others may enjoy extravagant end-of-the-year meals, I’ll be binging on vittles designed to be served in a bowl. Let’s call these “bowl eligible” eats.

The possibilities are boundless. Chili springs to mind. A big steaming “bowl of red,” topped with mounds of sour cream, stacks of avocado slices and citrusy pickled red onions. Or maybe a palate-searing bowl of green curry mussels, emitting funky earthy aromas of fish sauce and lemongrass? So good! How about a super-rich, bubbling caldron of Madeira and truffle-oil-spiked chicken pot-pie? Are you on the bowl train with me? How can you resist, especially with my green chili mac & cheese recipe? It does require a little skill, though. Step 1: Make a basic béchamel or white sauce. Once the cheese is added, it becomes mornay or cheese sauce. Heat a large sauce pan on medium heat and melt 5 tablespoons of butter. Next, whisk 1/2 cup of flour into the butter; whisk for about 2 minutes. Then slowly pour in 4 cups of warm milk. The sauce will slowly thicken. Keep whisking to avoid lumps. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Whisk until smooth and voilà! Now you can transform the béchamel into mornay.

 

Chef Bill’s Green Chili Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

• 4 poblano chilis, roasted, stemmed, seeded, peeled and small diced

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 3 shallots, brunoise

• 1 to 2 cups of each: béchamel, compté, white cheddar, parmesan and gruyere

• 2 tsp. chipotle powder

• 1 tsp. cumin, ground

• Panko, ground as needed

• About half a box of elbows or any appropriate pasta, cooked

• Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

1. Sweat the shallots; add garlic, poblano, chipotle and cumin.

2. Make the mornay sauce; taste for proper cheese amounts.

3. Stir pepper mixture into cheese sauce. Adjust seasonings.

4. Mix with elbow pasta.

5. Spoon into a large bowl, top with panko,gratinée under the broiler.

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Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at cheffedup@folioweekly.com, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!

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