When I was a kid Halloween was the best time of the year. We lived in a neighborhood that had very few children, but lots of adults who were happy to buy loads of candy. We scored. Every year my dad and the dad next door would take all of us out around the neighborhood. Living in Seattle meant that there were many years where it rained. When that happened, we all piled in the back of my dad’s Ford Explorer with the hatch open (it was the 90’s after all) and he’d drive us from house to house.
Halloween smelled like rain and leaves and whiskey (as a kid I didn't recognize the smell, but as an adult I’ve figured out what was in those flasks.)
As a kid, Halloween is full of magic and fun. The years between being a kid and having a kid are a little more ambiguous. There were parties and fancy dinners but the magic just wasn’t the same. If you’re lucky enough to have little ones around this Halloween, take advantage of it. Host a party, make a big batch of chili and revel in the magic and fun of youth.
In a small bowl blend together cornmeal, sugar, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder. In a warm pan cook spice blend with two tablespoons olive oil until aromatic (just a minute or two).
Add onions and butter to pan and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add sausage and stew meat and cook, turning often, until browned.
When sausage is completely cooked and stew meat cubes are browned on all sides, pour in 1 cup beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the second cup if needed to retain some liquid in the pan.
Pour in tomatoes, beer, beans, and bay leaf and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 3 hours stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until stew meat is tender and flaky.
When ready to serve, break up stew meat chunks with a fork and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and fresh chopped onions.
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups beef broth
1 pound sausage
2 pounds beef stew meat
2 bay leaves
12 ounces Pale Ale
1 - 8 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 - 8 oz. can kidney beans
1 - 8 oz. can pinto beans
2 - 9 oz cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
¼ cup chili powder
½ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon pepper
Here’s how to pull off the perfect Family Halloween Party
Make a giant batch of chili. More people show up? No problem, add more beans & more stock.
Make or buy loads of cookies and treats. Not totally for the kids - but for the parents to snack on so they don’t dig into their kids bags (yet).
Cocktails! Set up a simple bar with gin, vodka, tonic, and soda water. A few bottles of red wine & beer will round out the bar.
Weeknight Family Halloween parties tend to wrap up around 8pm. Let friends know ahead of time that you’re putting your kids to bed at a certain time.