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Man of the House: Soused moms, sauced chicken

November 05, 2011|Chris Erskine

So I'm spooning with the dog again, and every couple of minutes he spasms in his sleep, a sort of esophageal quake-quiver. I don't know if he's worried about work or having sex dreams. There's the blue-eyed Akita next door — as dogs go, a real looker — and I think we're all a little smitten with her.

Anyway, that's how Halloween started at our house. Sure, it was a little scary, but thrilling too.

I'm about to enter Snickers rehab, at the new Betty Ford Clinic where they treat candy disorders, but before I go, I want to brief you on how the holiday went. Halloween remains my favorite, largely because it doesn't involve gifts. Plus, you can slay zombies.

Halloween is also the little guy's favorite. He apparently believes it's the night baby Jesus was born, a cross-pollination of holidays that happens with young children. I didn't want to crush his little spirit, so I just went with that. But it was a little awkward when, at the first house we visited on Halloween, he started caroling.

For tricks-or-treats, we went to a neighboring neighborhood where the yards look like Hollywood sets and they give out candy the size of small pets.

The kids travel in swarms, sort of like a ground fog, down the streets and up the walks, the escorting parents worried about losing them. Can you imagine returning home after Halloween with one fewer kid than you left with? Or worse, one extra?

Every once in a while, one of the trick-or-treaters goes stumbling over some flagstone steps, and some of the Chardonnay Moms too. Loss of motor control is apparently one of the side effects of Chardonnay, along with dizziness, slurred speech and table dancing.

By the way, another dad was asking about Chardonnay Moms the other day, what distinguishes them from their predecessors (Soccer Moms), and I explained that the Chardonnay Moms tend to be fortysomething fitness freaks with the fat content of pencils.

For example, when you hold a Chardonnay Mom against a light, as you would a glass of white wine, you can visually make out her skeleton. And if she happens to have recently swallowed a key, or a filling or have any piercings, you can make them out too — in silhouette.

These moms also, occasionally, can be seen hoisting a glass of Chardonnay at the many school fundraisers they attend. Veni! Vidi! Sippi!

So, onward we go, stumbling toward the holidays as if pursuing some sort of prize. November might be my favorite month, with its oxblood evening skies, the way the autumn moon slips behind the clouds, the smell of the neighbor's septic system backing up into the pool.

We still have some pumpkin seeds left over; my wife, Posh, salts them and roasts them in the oven, and we chew-chew-chew them till they're almost soft enough to eat, then swallow them anyway.

And, for the first time this fall, Posh made a batch of her sensational chicken chili. I know what you're thinking: chicken chili, how un-American. Trust me, after you've sampled Posh's chicken chili, you might quit the other stuff.

Let me walk you through it:

First, you kill a chicken, or if you're pressed for time, buy one at the deli, where a whole roast chicken often sells for $5. An uncooked chicken is more. That's America. No, I am not taking questions.

In a big pot, sauté 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic and a medium chopped onion in oil, add the peeled chicken and three jars of Trader Joe's salsa verde — so now not only is it chicken chili, it's GREEN chicken chili. Stay with me.

You slosh it around a while, maybe an hour, add a couple of cans of cannellini beans and a tablespoon of cumin, a spice that tastes lousy till you add it to food. Oh, and a cup or two of chicken broth. Then slosh it around some more.

Serve with a scoop of sour cream and a dash of hot sauce. It feeds six normal adults. Or about 60 Chardonnay Moms.

If it's not the best chili ever, if it doesn't change your life in substantial ways, clear your skin, vanquish any rashes, straighten your teeth, improve your sex life, rejuvenate your mortal soul, Posh will give you your money back.

For, this is not just chili, it's more of a supremely delicious elixir. My only fear is that I may be underselling it.

Please keep in mind that Posh has no money, so she'll probably reimburse you in wine corks, which is how I get my allowance these days.

Bon appetit. Bon November.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter.com/erskinetimes

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