Bruce and I just got back from a much deserved three day road trip over the past weekend. A few weeks earlier, he asked me if I wanted to take a 5 hour scenic drive down south to the state of Nevada. Of course I said yes! We booked a few nights in a hotel in Reno and spent the day on Saturday in an old western mining town of Virginia City. That morning, as we drove up to Virginia City we saw a sign on the side of the road that indicated that the main road through town was closed due to a special event…
To our surprise (and to my delight) the event that shut down the road was the annual “Great Virginia City Chili Cook Off”! Too cool! There were dozens of street vendors and chili cook off contestants. It was a blast! Live music, street food and people walking around the town wearing typical western wear such as cowboy boots, big silver belt buckles and cowboy hats. For 5 dollars you could taste 7 different chili recipes and vote for your favorite. I was like a kid in a candy store with all the different varieties of competition quality chili to choose from!
Well over a hundred years ago, Virginia City was once a bustling mining town where prospectors mined for gold and silver ore. There’s old mine shafts, wood sidewalks, museums, saloons, gift shops and so much more to see.
There were lots of old wood buildings and brickwork. The peeling paint and crooked roofs added to the charm.
Do you see the wood sidewalks? They were not level and you had to constantly watch your step as you walked on top of them.
The “Bucket of Blood” Saloon.
The front door of the Union Brewery.
Okay… This was really interesting… I saw this gentleman walking along the main street, leading a donkey, dressed in red union suit underwear (the kind with the flap in the back), cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. When I snapped their photo, I just missed the kiss. It was beyond hilarious!
On our way back into Reno, I saw this herd of over a dozen wild horses on the side of the road. I yelled at Bruce to stop the car and before he knew it, I was dodging traffic with my camera and telephoto lens to get the shot. Seeing this herd of wild mustangs was the highlight of my day. What an amazing opportunity to see and photograph such beautiful creatures.
Another shot of the mustangs. Before long, they were down the hill and out of sight.
Back to chili… My Lamb Chili Baked Potato was inspired by the many flavors of chili that I tasted at the annual Virginia City Chili Cook Off. It’s made with tender bits of lamb, onion, tomato and tasty spices all ladled on top a hot baked potato topped with shredded cheddar cheese, fresh picked green onions and slivers of sweet red bell pepper. It’s a simple, tasty and hearty meal. Makes 6 wonderful chili stuffed spuds. Enjoy! Tessa
- 6 baked potatoes (washed, pricked, baked at 450 degrees for about an hour)
- 3/4 pound lamb stew meat
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 Tbs canola oil
- 2 Tbs dark chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp Szechuan pepper
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4 ounce can green chilies
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 Tbs garlic paste
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 tsp special dark cocoa
- salt and pepper to taste
- garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and slivered red bell pepper.
Grab a heavy bottomed medium sized pot with a lid. Heat the pot on the stove and add canola oil until hot. Add lamb and onion and cook until the lamb is lightly brown and the onions are beginning to caramelize. Add chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander and Szechuan pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until spices are fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, green chilies, vegetable stock, garlic paste, and brown sugar. Stir, cover and cook until lamb is tender or about an hour.
Meanwhile, bake your potatoes and prepare your garnishes. Before the chili is done cooking be sure to taste and correct your seasonings. Add additional stock if necessary. Serve by ladling hot chili on split baked potatoes. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, green onions and red bell pepper.