12.16.08

How To Make A Trainwreck

Posted in MainPage at 3:31 pm by admin

How To Make A Trainwreck

Some years ago, when I was in college, a group of friends was broke and hungry. Each had a few items in their pantry, but none had a whole meal. They gathered together their meager contributions in a rush and, culinary genius resulted. Over time this recipe has been refined by its originators, each adding their own special touch. This is my version.

First, the recipe is for “A Trainwreck”, always A Trainwreck, not “Trainwreck” or some trainwreck.

You will need:

Fresh, green jalapenos, get a pound or more. It may not all be used.
~2 or 3 lbs cheap Ground Beef. 80% lean is best.
4 or 5 large cans of Ranch Style Beans Original flavor
1 can of RoTel diced tomatos and green chilis
1 small can of diced green chilis
Chili powder.
An ounce of courage.
1 LARGE white onion, 4 inches across or more
1 huge skillet
1 huge pot
Some Chalulah or similar hot sauce (Don’t use tabasco; it annoys the jalapenos.)

A note on the cookware, you want as little steel as possible. Wood spoons, hard nylon spatulas and anodized aluminum pots are best. Avoid teflon as the jalapenos tend to penetrate and make the next 4 or 5 dishes come out tasting like a trainwreck. (Ah, the voice of experience.)

Mix beans, Rotel and chili cans in big pot. Put them over really low heat. Cover. Stir when they get lonely. The pot should be no more than half full at this point. Half full is just about right.

Brown ground beef in skillet and add the meat to the mixture in the big pot. Scoop the beef. Do not pour or drain. You need the drippings for later, so leave them in the skillet. My personal opinion is that you need little tiny pieces less than a quarter-inch in diameter of ground beef and not large chunks. That may not be your opinion, but do it my way anyway.

Chop up the onion to <1/4″ pieces. Start chopping up Japs. You want to cut them lengthwise once then slice into 1/8″ to 3/16″ widths. After you have sliced up one jap, eat a slice. Be sure to let it sit on your tongue and chew thoroughly. If this is painful, use half of the japs. If not, you should use the whole pound and might need more. Japs are highly variable when it comes to heat. Milk will help to cool your mouth. Don’t drink water to cool the burn, that just makes it worse. Beer can help, especially early in the process, like an hour or so before you go shopping for ingredients.

So, now that you have all of the onions and jap pieces, open all the windows in the kitchen and get a good fan for ventilation. Heat the skillet with the beef fat so that it is nice and saute’ hot. Put the onion and japs (seeds and all) into this and saute’ until the onion is clear and just starting to caramelize. If the onions don’t start to sizzle right away, the fat isn’t hot enough. Stay on top of this, the difference between too raw and burned to a crisp is less than a minute. Stir and fold constantly while you do this. For a bit of fun, invite a guest over to smell what you are cooking. Get their face right over the steam coming off the skillet. (Keep a damp rag handy, and perhaps a bucket as this can be an intense experience.) If your guest does not choke on the steam, you don’t have enough japs and should probably find a new supplier for next time.

Dump the contents of the skillet into the pot. Yes, dump. Fat and all. Stir the pot occasionally; watch TV as commercial breaks are a good timer. Use a lid when not stirring to keep out any suicidal insects.

After this mixture has had a chance to simmer for a half hour or so, dip a chip or some bread and try it out. Use chili powder to get the flavor you want and the hot sauce to get the heat level you want. Don’t be afraid of either. I have used as much as 1/4 cup of chili powder and half a bottle of Chalulah in a trainwreck.  Let it cook down for a few minutes after adding either chili powder or hot sauce before you taste again. A beer will help clear the palate between tastings and help to time the next one.

Let the mixture simmer over low heat for up to a couple of hours to release the oils in the jalapeno seeds.

Serve with chips, or flour tortillas. You can mix with regular size Fritos and put cheese on top for a spicy frito pie.

Remember, you are making a trainwreck. This is not a recipe, but a catastrophe. Your average Joe-on-the-street should think this is too hot to eat. Your goal should be the heat level where people are only barely willing to come back to your house.

The best way to learn to make a trainwreck is to fail a few times. Don’t try to portion this down to serve 2 or 3. I’ve tried and it never comes out right. It is a trainwreck, not a derailment or rail-yard mishap. Be prepared to eat left-overs for a few days.

Your mileage may vary. Some settling may occur during shipping.

And most important, let me know how it goes.

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