OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Transition to fall with Chili and Cheddar-Jalapeno Shortcake

Chili and Cheddar-Jalapeno Shortcake (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Chili and Cheddar-Jalapeno Shortcake (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

We still have several weeks of summer left, but my food cravings have already turned to fall. The cooler(ish) rainy days last week had me craving chili. But even with the thermostat turned down, I couldn't bear the thought of a steaming hot bowl of it. So I made chili shortcake.

Chili shortcake is basically chili served between a split biscuit. In this case, a cheddar-jalapeno biscuit.

I can't take credit for the idea, that goes to "The Epicurious Cookbook: More Than 250 of Our Best-Loved Four-Fork Recipes for Weeknights & Special Occasions" by Tanya Steel and the editors of Epicurious published in 2012.

The Epicurious version calls for making the chili from scratch requiring about an hour of simmering.

I opted for a faster chili and my own butter-rich shortcake/biscuit recipe, adding cheddar and pickled jalapeno.

I like to leave the cheese pieces a little on the large side so as the biscuits bake some of the cheese oozes out and crisps on the edges in addition to the pockets of cheese inside the biscuit, but shredded cheese will taste just as good.

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Chili and Cheddar-Jalapeno Shortcake

For the chili:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

2 tablespoons chili seasoning (I like Williams)

1 (15-ounce) can beans such as spicy chili beans, kidney beans or pinto beans, lightly drained

1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, plain or with garlic (pureed if desired)

½ cup tomato juice or tomato-vegetable juice blend such as V-8

For the cheddar-jalapeno shortcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup milk

1 egg yolk

4 ounces cheddar cheese, diced, crumbled or shredded

2 tablespoons minced, pickled or fresh jalapeno

In a 2-quart or larger saucepan, brown the ground beef or turkey, breaking it into crumbles as it cooks. If necessary, drain and return to pan. Stir in the seasoning, and then the beans, fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato juice. Simmer at least 20 minutes.

While the chili simmers, prepare the shortcakes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with no piece of butter larger than a pea.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg yolk, cheese and jalapeno. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients just until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead until it comes together in a cohesive mass. Pat or roll to about 1 inch to 1 ¼ inches thick. Using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut dough into 2 ½-inch circles, making each cut as close as possible to one another. Gently pat together the scraps and cut out another one or two circles as possible. Place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve chili over split biscuits.

Makes about 6 cups chili and about 10 biscuits.

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