Culinary Compost Boycotts Penzeys Spices

Hello fellow foodies. After reading recent commentary from Bill Penzey, the author of Culinary Compost is officially withdrawing all references to Penzeys Spices on this food blog. While I’ve always known that Bill overtly inserts his political opinion in monthly mailings to his customer base, (which, in its own right is wrong on so many levels) I can no longer stand by and let this man spew his rhetoric of hate to conservatives, and to people who support and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, by labeling them “racist.”

I am not a racist. I never have been. And I resent being called one.

This is extreme-left socialism, and this kind of bigotry has no place in America.  Make no mistake — my observation is not one of Conservatives vs. Liberals. It is simply a stance of the author not supporting an individual who wants to further divide this country through hate by means of his product.

Shown below are a few articles and a link to Penzey’s official Facebook page:

2/1/18 Article in The New Yorker


You be the judge.  Last time I checked, America was still a free country. And my readers, of course, are still allowed to shop where they want and exercise their right to free speech, which I will always respect. However, pitting people against each other in the guise of “Love” is a ruse by Bill Penzey, who’s only concern is making as much money as he can over a very contentious election.  Funny thing is, he’s pissed off a lot of his customers, and I, for one, will not be coming back.

Invariably, comments by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke say it best:
“This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods.”

Bill Penzey can be reached at



In the interest of an open discussion, leave your thoughts below – none will be censured.
—Mike from Culinary Compost

Bill Penzey's Socialist Sea Salt

Penzey’s Spices announces new product.


Johnsonville® Chiliville Chili

If I stumble across a great recipe, I’ll test and share it with my fellow bloggers. Here’s one for you chiliheads – it’s a great seasonal recipe that my wife found in Taste of Home Magazine. It was on a full page ad featuring Johnsonville Italian sausage — a legendary product made right here in Eastern Wisconsin.

My family loved the recipe. My wife and I both agreed that in the future we would reduce the brown sugar* by half. The exact published measurement is shown here. Other than that, it was excellent. You’ll note that the preparation is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time to set up; this is a plus for busy families, as my made-from-scratch chili recipes are quite time consuming.



1 16 oz. package Johnsonville ground mild sweet or hot Italian sausage
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions
2 cans (16 oz. each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tbs. brown sugar*
2 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. worchestershire sauce
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
shredded Sargento® cheddar cheese


In a 5-quart Dutch oven, cook the sausage and ground beef over medium heat until meat is browned. Drain off fat. Stir in onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir until tender.

Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, broth, tomato paste, sugar, chili powder, worchestershire sauce, cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with shredded cheese.

Serves 4-6

Bucky’s Chili

This is a recipe that I’ve been waiting eight years for. Every year we have a chili cookoff at work and Bucky’s chili is one of the first to disappear. It’s legendary. He finally parted with the recipe, due in no small part to my incessant nagging.

You’ll be amazed how great it tastes considering how simple the ingredients list is. The recipe shown makes one small batch —  you can easily double or triple it with the same results.


1 pound sirloin hamburger meat (patties or coarse-ground)
1 large yellow onion
1 can Bush’s chili beans
1/2 package taco seasoning mix
Szechuan chili oil to taste


Fry up the sirloin in a heavy skillet or pot with the chili oil. When rendered and the meat is no longer pink, add the onion and fry until tender. Add the taco seasoning and mix well. Add more chili oil if needed. Simmer partially covered for two hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the chili beans, mix and simmer until just heated through.

Serve with shredded cheese and chopped scallion.

Serves 2-4

Mesquite-Grilled Steak Chili with Chorizo and Poblano

This is a dark, smokey, semi-hot chili based on two of my other grilled steak chili recipes.  The main difference here is it also features chorizo sausage. If you cannot find the bulk chorizo, you can substitute ground pork and add a bit more cayenne pepper. The marinade is similar to my recipe for fajitas. It’s a lot of work but a guaranteed success for hungry guests.

In Arizona, mesquite wood is plentiful. It grows as a small scrub-tree and can be found everywhere. No such luck here in Wisconsin. I get my wood chips at a hardware store in three pound bags. The wood smoke is essential to the flavor of this dish.


For the Steak Marinade~

2 lbs. chuck or sirloin steak, slightly marbled
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tbs. ancho chili powder
1 tbs. ground coriander seed
1 tbs. liquid smoke
2 oz. tequila
fresh-ground black pepper to taste

For the Chili Pot~

1 lb. ground bulk chorizo or pork
2 large spanish onions, peeled and halved
2 large poblano peppers
1 whole bulb garlic, cloves peeled and minced
1 14.5 oz. can black beans
1 14.5 oz. can pinto beans
1 cup strong black coffee
24 oz. beef broth or stock
1 32 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
4 tbs. tomatillo or lime juice
2 tbs. ancho chili powder
3.5 tbs. pure mild chimayo chili powder
1 tsp. salt, to taste
1 tbs. ground chipotle powder
3 tbs. ground cayenne powder, to taste
2 tbs. fresh ground cumin, from toasted seed
1 tbs. ground mexican oregano

Mesquite wood chips for grilling
Paper lunch bag


Prepare the marinade and steak 24 hours in advance. Tenderize the steak and place in a large ziplock freezer bag. Mix the lime juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, coriander, ancho powder, liquid smoke, tequila and black pepper in a bowl until combined and pour over steak. Seal tight and place in fridge, rotating at least twice. Ensure that the steak is evenly covered  with the marinade. The lime juice will break down the marbling and make it very tender.

Heat a large 5-quart cast-iron dutch oven over medium heat and brown the pork until no longer pink. Drain off the fat. Add the coffee, tomatoes and beef stock. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher and bring to a low simmer.

Prepare your grill with enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When the coals are white-hot, level them, add the mesquite wood and place the onion (lightly brushed with olive oil) over direct heat on the grilling grate until they char slightly. Keep rotating them and then add the poblanos. Ensure you get a nice char on all sides of the peppers. The onion will eventually break apart, so take care not to let the pieces slip through the grilling grate onto the fire. Remove the onion and poblanos and set aside. Place the poblanos in a sealed paper lunch bag so the tough skins sweat off.

Add the steak to the grill and char both sides lightly with the cover on for smoking. You’ll want it medium-rare in the middle. Remove and reserve on a cutting board for at least ten minutes.

Back to the chili pot –  Rinse off the charred poblano skins under cold water. Seed and dice the pepppers. Dice the onion and add both to the pot. Add the dry spices. Cut the steak into 1/2″ chunks and remove the excess fat. Add to the pot with any remaining juices. Add the tomatillo or lime juice. Saute the garlic over low heat in a little olive oil and add to the pot.

Simmer for at least 3 hours to reduce, stirring occasionally. At the last half-hour, drain the beans and add to the pot.

Makes 4.75 quarts.

Flatiron Grilled Steak Chili

Here’s a milder version of my Fire Canyon Grilled Steak Chili, made with poblano peppers. The preparation is much the same. The combination of two kinds of beans, done until just tender add a nice contrast to the simmered beef. A wonderful recipe well worth the time needed to prepare.


3 lbs. skirt, flank or Angus sirloin steak
Mike’s Flatiron Rub
fresh-squeezed lime juice
XV olive oil
2 tsp. liquid smoke
2 bulbs garlic
1 32oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
3 cups beef stock
1 cup strong black coffee
2 huge Spanish onions
3 large poblano peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
1/3 cup pure mild chimayo chili powder
1 tbs. ground Mexican oregano
1 tbs. chipotle powder
1 tbs. cayenne powder
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tbs. ground cumin (toasted from seed)
1 cup dry pinto beans
1 cup dry black beans
2 tbs. masa harina (cornmeal) used as thickener
Mesquite wood chips and real charcoal


The night before: Wash and sort the pinto and black beans. Remove any debris. Soak in water for 24 hours.
Pound the steaks on both sides using a meat tenderizer (cover with saran wrap). Generously sprinkle the flatiron rub on both sides and work it in to the meat.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups lime juice and about a half cup olive oil. Add 5 cloves mashed garlic. Add 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper. Add 1 tsp. liquid smoke. Mix well and pour into ziplock freezer bag. Add the steaks. Seal tight and double bag. Shake to ensure the steaks are evenly coated with the marinade. Marinate in your fridge for at least 24 hours.

When ready to start the chili, preheat a 22″ Weber grill with enough charcoal to cook the steaks over medium-high heat.
Prepare the mesquite chips for smoking by either soaking them in water for at least an hour -or- placing them in a sealed tinfoil pack (shiny side in) with holes poked in it.

While the grill is preheating, heat a 6-quart Dutch oven (cast-iron preferred) to medium and add the tomatoes, coffee and beef stock. Bring to a low simmer.

When the charcoal is white-hot add the mesquite chips to the coals. Cook the steaks quickly (a very hot, direct fire is essential) so they slightly char on each side. It’s fine if they are underdone, since they are going into the chili pot. Remove from the grill and set aside in a covered dish.

Peel and halve the onions and core the poblanos. Brush lightly with olive oil and place both on the grill over direct heat. Char lightly until the skin on the poblanos blisters. Rotate to ensure that they are evenly done, then remove from heat and place in a covered pan. The tough outer skin on the poblanos will blister off in about fifteen minutes. Rinse under cold water to remove the skin. Chop the onion and poblano in to 1/4″ pieces and add to the pot.

When cool, cut the steak into 1/2″ cubes and add to the pot. Increase the heat and bring to a slow boil.

Add 1 tsp. liquid smoke, the dry spices and 1 bulb peeled, minced garlic. Use the cayenne and chipotle powder to control the heat. (Toast the cumin on medium heat in a heavy pan until it just starts to smoke. Shake the pan to stir. Remove from heat and grind in a spice grinder or mortar. Do not burn it or it will taste bitter.)

Add the pinto and black beans. Add three seeded and chopped jalapenos.

Simmer for about three hours, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender, but not soft. You want a nice contrast to the texture of the beef. About halfway through, taste and correct the seasoning.  (alright – we all know you’ll be tasting it more than that, but at least try to use some reservation.)

Masa harina may be used during the last fifteen minutes of cooking to thicken up the chili.

Serves 6-8

Wasabañero Chili

East meets west in this rowdy ass-kicker destined to be a favorite.


4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
1 cup strong brewed coffee
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
3 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
2 Anaheim chile peppers, chopped
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 habanero pepper, sliced


Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot and place the pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions, garlic, beef and sausage until meats are browned. Pour in the tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and broth. Season with chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, cayenne, coriander, salt and wasabi. Stir in one can of beans, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat remaining oil. Cook Anaheim, serrano and habanero peppers in oil until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir into the pot and simmer 2 hours.

Stir in remaining 2 cans of beans and cook 45 minutes more.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Steak and Black Bean Chili

Busy schedule? No problem. It doesn’t get any easier than this. Throw everything in the slow cooker and walk away. Who says you have to slave over a chili pot all afternoon?


2 lbs. beef cubes – do NOT brown in pan first
2 tsp. all purpose chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 huge Spanish onion – chopped
1 large green bell pepper – chopped
2 15oz. cans black beans – drained and rinsed in colander
2 14.5oz. cans chili-style chopped tomatoes – with juice
1 6oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste


Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

Makes 8 servings.

Serve with sliced scallion, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream.