I have always believed that donning an apron was the ultimate form of commitment to a dish or meal. When the apron goes on, the gloves come off, and it’s time to get intimate with food. Gayle, one of our official product-testers (which sounds infinitely more professional than yummy-goodies-eater), broke in one of Fog Linen’s aprons with a big pot of spicy chili. If an apron can survive that, it’s a keeper! -Amy
Things can get a bit, umm, messy in the kitchen. I’m not talking about dishes piling up in the sink but the splashes and splatters and puffs of flour that always seem to find your black pants when you skip the apron.
My own apron disappeared during a recent move and I’ve had a hard time finding a replacement. In looking around, the options are pretty limited – white polyester aprons that remain stiff after dozens of washes, cutesy frilly ruffly ones that are too thin to protect your clothes, and too-short chef’s jackets that cover only from the waist up. (When I make a mess, it’s a full body mess.)
But when I opened the package from Maggie and pulled out a Fog Linen apron buried in a tumble of crinkly packing paper, I suspected this one was different. I slipped the chambray-blue apron over my head and crossed the blessedly long strings around my back and tied them in the front (I always prefer that to a bow in the back). I stuffed my hands into the two front pockets and checked myself out in the mirror. Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all.
I rolled up my sleeves, threaded a towel through the apron strings and set to work making dinner for a few friends. It was chili night and by the time the food was on the table, my new apron was polka-dotted with harissa- and tomato-tinged sauce. I threw it in the washer, then dryer, and pulled it out after dessert, pleased to find the clean warm linen softer than before.
So far, I’ve found this Fog Linen apron to be practical and durable while epitomizing the beauty of simplicity. Now, if only it could make that stack of dirty dishes taunting me from the sink disappear…
Harissa Chili (to break in an apron)
This recipe is adapted from the spicy chili in Einat Admony’s Balaboosta. The heat in the chili comes from the North African spice paste harissa. I like to serve this on top of wheat berries, but you can use brown rice, barley, farro, or your favorite grain.
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ lb ground lamb
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 ½ C finely chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 t sugar
- 1 28-oz can of chopped peeled tomatoes
- 2-3 T harissa (depending on how spicy it is)
- 1 t ground cumin
- ¼ t chipotle powder
- 4 C water
- 2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1. Heat a large heavy-bottom pot over high heat (no oil) – it’s ready when you drop a small piece of meat in and it sizzles very loudly. If the pot isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up boiling your meat instead of sautéing. Add the beef and lamb to the hot pot and sauté until browned. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Drain off any excess liquid, but leave all the good browned bits. Remove the meat and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in the emptied pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure not to burn it. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of harissa (you can add more later), cumin, chipotle, 2 tablespoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and water.
3. Add the beans and bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. After the first 30 minutes, taste for spice, stirring in extra harissa if you’d like more of a kick. Check the chili periodically, and if it looks dry, add some more water.
4. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with sliced scallion.
Photos courtesy of Gayle and Eat Boutique.
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