marks the 50th anniversary of the very first episode of the Columbo TV series (1971-78).
It also is the day my friend Jenny ofSilver Screen Suppersreleases her latest book, COOKING WITH COLUMBO – Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth.
(I’ll post details here, of where you can buy it, once Jenny announces that information.)
COOKING WITH COLUMBO is a treasury of fabulous recipes, garnered from Columbo himself (Peter Falk) and a myriad of his amazing co-stars throughout the 9+ seasons of the world’s most beloved detective show. The book is organized episode by episode, with coordinating dishes and tips for throwing the perfect Columbo party. It’s a highly entertaining read, and a book you’ll refer back to over and over again, just for it’s many rare and exceptional recipes.
Peter Falk and Johnny Cash in Columbo
In honor of the book release, Jenny’s hosting theColumbo Bowl Chili Cook-Alongfrom Feb 1-20! (Hence the reason for this posting…) The cook-along is open to anyone (world wide), and there are fabulous PRIZES to be won! Everyone is making a version of Johnny Cash’s Chili ( he appeared in the Columbo episode, Swan Song ). All you have to do, is make the chili and send her a picture. (She’s picked a PERFECT recipe for this time of year…at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere.) Click the above link for details and recipes.
Swan Song, co-starring Johnny Cash
As every Columbo fan knows, Chili is The Lieutenant’s favorite dish (and especially the chili from Barney’s Beanery in Hollywood…a favorite hangout of James Dean‘s). In the Swan Song episode, Johnny Cash offers Lieutenant Columbo a bowl of chili made with squirrel meat…this is NOT the version Jenny is asking everyone to cook (and good thing, we don’t have any squirrels in Greece)! The recipe for the cook-along, is Johnny’s personal one…using beef (there’s also a veggie version, adapted by Helen of the fanciful blogsite Dinner with Zelda Manners). They’re both great!
COOKING WITH COLUMBO – Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth
Recipes4Rebels readers know there’s always a James Dean tie in… Wellllll…according to the Oracle of Bacon (the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game):
James Dean starred with Sheb Wooley (who played Gabe Target in Giant )
Sheb Wooley co-starred with Johnny Cash in Hootenanny Hoot (1963)
…that’s a Kevin Bacon number of 2.
James Dean also starred with Lonny Chapman (who played a car mechanic in East of Eden )
Lonny Chapman co-stared with Johnny Cash in The Hunted (2003)
Another Kevin Bacon number of 2.
That, I fear (along with the Barney’s Beanery tie in), is the best I can do… It’s a double Bacon #2, with a side of beans… Nonetheless, who doesn’t love Johnny Cash anyway?
I’m making a meatless version of Johnny Cash Chili (which differs from Helen’s version, due to the fact that I can’t get ready-made, soy-based, meat substitutes here in Greece). I’m serving it with my recipe for a skillet cornbread (I’ll give you my recipe for that too…it’s a good one, if I do say so myself).
Alex and I are looking forward to the chili leftovers…Chili Mac is a favorite of ours (for non-US readers, Chili Mac is leftover chili [always better the next day, right?], served over spaghetti, and topped with chopped raw onion and copious amounts of shredded Cheddar cheese!). YUM! It’s the best!
(Although I have many, many favorite Johnny Cash songs, Ring of Fire  has always been near the top of the list, partly because it was written by June Carter Cash about her love for Johnny…)
The basic recipe for Johnny Cash Chili can be found on Jenny’s blogsite, HERE. The chili was great. Alex exclaimed, “Yummy! This really makes me happy!” I worked VERY HARD to keep the heat levels down…but it still came out rather spicy hot (see my note below). The rest of the seasonings were perfect. A very enjoyable meal. Invite a lot of friends over, this recipe makes a lot! Serve for a party or plan on freezing the leftovers for fabulous, quick, hassle-free meals later. Enjoy!
Young Johnny Cash
Here’s my cooking notes, with additions and substitutions that were made:
I’m using Halloumi cheese (a cheese from Cyprus that can be grilled or pan fried and browned without melting) in place of the meat. It’s a unique, brined, sheep/goat cheese (look for it at your local cheese shop…it’s generally available worldwide). Halloumi is usually sliced and then grilled or pan fried in olive oil until brown; often served with grilled vegetables (onions, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant…) and drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. IT”S DELICIOUS that way! For this chili recipe, I grated 1/2 the Halloumi and fried until brown with a variety of spices (to approximate a meat flavor). I generally use sage, basil, oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder with a touch of anise, sugar, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and a spoon of peanut butter. (Sounds complicated, but it’s not…just use which ever of these you have on hand. With all the other flavors in this recipe, it’ll hardly be noticeable.) The other 1/2, I sliced/tore into larger, irregular chunks before browning (to sub for the sirloin steak in the original recipe). Prepare these first and set aside. They will be added into the recipe last (because Halloumi that boils for long periods, turns rubbery).
I can’t get the canned beans in chili sauce here…so I added some canned Chipotles (smoked Jalapeños in Adobo/tomato sauce) that I have stashed away (brought back from the US on a trip 3 years ago).
Vast varieties of canned beans are not available to me either…I can get red kidney beans OR…well, that’s about it. All other varieties have to be bought as dried, and then soaked overnight and cooked. But I like a variety of beans in this recipe, and it’s worth it…so that’s what I did. I’m using kidney, pintos, and black…
The chili powder that I get here, is VERY spicy hot (which I totally don’t understand…most Greeks I know, dislike extremely hot food)! So I’m using MUCH LESS than Johnny calls for. Buy the MILDEST chili powder you can find…it’s easy to add more spice later.
No fresh Jalapeños at the markets today either…I’m using from my stash of jarred, sliced, pickled ones.
No Habanero peppers to be found…but that was okay, I didn’t need any extra heat!
The beer…is Greek. The oil…is olive.
The rest of the recipe was exactly the same as the original (except adding the Halloumi at the very end).
The only accompaniments to my chili, are shredded cheese, sometimes a dollop of sour cream, maybe saltine crackers, and definitely a big healthy slab of cornbread! (Sorry my Brit friends…although I’m sure it’s good, I’d NEVER serve chili over rice.)
I’ve been making the same cornbread for many, many years… It’s a fairly standard version, slightly more eggy, sweetened with honey instead of sugar, and baked in a cast iron skillet. It’s moist, buttery, and full of sweet corn flavor on the inside, with a slightly crispy crust on the outside. A perfect counterbalance to the wonderful, spicy, smokey, tomato-ey, meaty flavors of Johnny Cash’s chili.
1 c all purpose flour
1 c cornmeal
4 T honey
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/3 c butter
1 c milk
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place butter in skillet, and place in oven to melt. (about 3 min…don’t let it brown)
Stir dry ingredients together.
Whisk together eggs, honey, and milk.
Remove skillet from oven and carefully swirl the melted butter to thoroughly cover bottom and sides of pan.
Pour butter into egg/honey/milk, leaving about 2-3 T left in the skillet.
Whisk the wet mixture into the dry, stirring until just moistened. Lumps are okay.
Immediately pour into hot skillet and return to oven.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until risen, golden brown, and the top begins to split.
Remove from oven and cool the cornbread in the skillet.
Slice into pie-shaped wedges. Serve warm. You can serve with more butter (or honey), but it’s really not necessary.
What’re we cookin’ up next in the Recipe4Rebels kitchen?
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