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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Column: Cracker activism; Stoned Wheat Thins and Adequate Buffalo Chicken Chili

    Adequate Buffalo Chicken Chili (Rich Swanson)
    Stone Wheat Thins (Mondelez)

    When I saw Red Oval Farms Stoned Wheat Thins disappear this fall from all the grocery stores, I thought, "Oh, more supply chain problems." I called Mondelez (parent company of Nabisco, which introduced the cracker in 1947) and was told that the SWTs have been discontinued.

    I submitted my complaint with the customer service rep, and she told me that she had taken many calls from perturbed customers with the same issue.

    At the age of 58, I'm still a little too young for Andy Rooney ranting, but come on! I've been buying at least two boxes a month for the last 30 years; they're good with EVERYTHING. They were great with cheese, meats, spreads, dips, with soups and chili. Not wispy and flaky like a saltine, not bland like matzoh, less oily than Ritz and with just enough cracked wheat to fool you into thinking you were eating healthy. Sturdy, salty standbys.

    Do we really need more room on the supermarket shelves for yet another flavor of Cheez-Its? More boxes of bougie crisps packed in plastic trays that take up half the space in the box? Mind you, this is the same company that makes Premium saltines, Ritz, Triscuits and (un-stoned) Wheat Thins. Also, their current product line still includes Chicken In A Biskit crackers, which I can't recall seeing anywhere outside a supermarket, ever.

    There are a few store brand crackers that imitate the Stoned model, but the closest in taste, texture and heartiness is Whole Foods 365 Cracked Wheat Crackers. The ingredient list is almost identical, and the crackers themselves look cloned.

    If you're as peeved as I am, you can contact Mondelez at 1-800-622-4726, text them at 1-864-581-2463 or go through their website, snackworks.com.

    Give them the "what for," and when they ask for your name, tell them "Andy Rooney."

    Adequate Buffalo Chicken Chili

    I wouldn’t be writing about my Buffalo chicken chili if it weren’t more than adequate. The title comes from a former coworker of mine from back in the Day day. She was raving about her Buffalo chicken chili, and I told her that I made a really good version. She basically dared me to bring it into work, so I did. I made a big pot and shared it with everybody in my department at the newspaper, and it disappeared very quickly. When I asked her for a little feedback, she paused slightly, and told me that my version was “adequate.” But then she emailed me at the end of the day and asked for my recipe. Adequate? Faint praise indeed.

    I first concocted this dish coming off of that big craze for Buffalo chicken chili dip about 10 years ago. People went nuts over it, but I wasn’t a fan. My main problem with the dip was that people drowned it in Frank’s Red Hot and you could barely taste the chicken. I worked it out so that the chicken in my chili was “adequately“ highlighted by the sauce, not overpowered. I used both ground chicken thighs for the base and also cubes of white breast meat. I had to balance out all of the other ingredients to make sure that it felt like a chili, not chicken and beans in hot sauce. I made sure to downplay the presence of tomatoes and traditional chili spices, while keeping their heady aroma from being drowned out by the tang of vinegar in the hot sauce.

    That’s a lot of culinary juggling for a one pot recipe, but I think I brokered some peace between chili purists and Buffalo chicken heads.

    Adequate Buffalo Chicken Chili

    2 Tbsp Olive Oil

    1 lb of skinless boneless chicken thighs

    2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced 1/2 inch

    1 large Vidalia onion, chopped

    2 tsp chili powder

    1 tsp oregano

    1 tsp cumin

    2 cloves garlic, crushed

    8 oz. can of tomato sauce

    1 Tbsp tomato paste

    2 cups chicken stock

    1/3 - 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (depending on your heat preference)

    1 28 oz. can of small white beans, drained and rinsed

    1-2 Tbsp sugar

    Salt & Pepper

    Bleu Cheese Topping

    Whisk together:

    3 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

    8 oz. tub of sour cream

    Stir in:

    4 oz. of crumbled bleu cheese

    Refrigerate until served

    Celery stalks to accompany, of course.

    1. Place the chicken thighs in food processor and pulse them till they are minced. Add oil to a Dutch oven and brown the meat over med high heat.

    2. Lower heat to medium and add the chopped onion to the Dutch oven; cook until onions are translucent.

    3. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic; cook for 1 min.

    4. Stir in chicken stock, tomato sauce and tomato paste and bring to simmer.

    5. Place diced breasts in the pot; cover Dutch oven and simmer gently until breasts are cooked through.

    6. Add white bean and Frank’s Red Hot.

    7. Add 1-2 Tbsp sugar to your preference. Salt & pepper to taste. Add additional hot sauce or ground hot pepper to taste now.

    8. Ladle into bowls and top with a blop of the blue cheese mix. Serve with celery.

    Upcoming and ongoing projects

    Got my tomato plants seeds going indoors: Burpee San Marzano & Super Sweet 100 Cherries, U of Florida Garden Gem and Compost Mystery Tomatoes.

    The CMT is from seeds of a tomato plant that grew out of my compost bin a couple years ago, producing glorious plum-sized, multicolored striped tomatoes that knocked me out.

    I just started Buttercrunch lettuce, Thai Tower & Lettuce Leaf Basils and Italian Flat Leaf parsley sprouts for the greenhouse hydroponic rig. Also planted the sprouty knobs off a hand of ginger in hopes of growing my own. Oh, almost forgot, I bought a foot tall Yuzu tree for $14.95 on Etsy because I spend $19.99 for a 6oz bottle of Yuzu extract way too often.

    Rich Swanson is a local cook who has had numerous wins in nationally sponsored recipe contests. He is also the layout specialist here at The Day.

    Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Rich Swanson can be reached at TheSurlyTable@gmail.com

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.