Winter is Here So Head to the Kitchen and Give Your Tummy a Treat that is Sure to Ward Off the Shivers

recipes by Chef T. Porter Montgomery of Next Level Kitchen
photography by Amanda Shelley Ledbetter


Brother T’s Chocolate Stout Chili

The chocolate and brown sugar play great with the smoky spiciness from the chipotle peppers, giving it a nice rounded flavor with just a hint of sweet. A huge bowl of this and some crackers – one of my favorite things when the weather turns cold.


3 lbs. of your choice smoked brisket or raw steak (cut into cubes)

2 lbs. assorted beans*

3 oz. (roughly half a can) of Embasa Chipotle with Adobo Sauce

1 large yellow onion

4 Tbsp. butter

1 ½ cloves fresh garlic

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

24 oz, chocolate stout beer

¾ cup brown sugar

36 oz. canned chopped tomatoes

6 fresh hot house tomatoes (chopped) with juice

1 qt. beef stock

2 Porcini mushroom bullion cubes

2 tsp. salt and pepper

Optional:  2 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder, if you’re unable to find appropriate chocolate stout

How you’re going to do it:

Place onions, garlic, butter, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt & pepper, and cubed steak in your stock pot, then cook on medium heat until onions are translucent and beef has browned.  Stir in flour, cooking for 1 minute, then add chipotle peppers (with adobo sauce), brown sugar, cocoa powder if desired, and beer.  Bring together in stock pot, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Now add the rest of your ingredients: tomatoes, beans (if using canned beans make sure they are rinsed before adding them,* if using dry beans, make sure to let them soak in salted water overnight), beef stock, mushroom bullion and let simmer on medium low for at least 1 hour.  Garnish with shredded cheddar, diced onions, sour cream, crispy bacon, and the kitchen sink.


Duck Gnocchi

Okay, so this isn’t exactly going to fit on your Weight Watcher’s diet, but can you really put a calorie count on deliciousness that warms you to your very soul? Okay, I guess you can, but let’s not talk about that… The potato gnocchi can be found in most supermarkets now, or at specialty food stores near the pasta.


2 duck breasts

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. olive oil

½ medium sized yellow onion

2 shallots

7 garlic cloves

1 lb. assorted mushrooms (Shiitake, Cremini, Portobello.)

2 tsp. rosemary

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. thyme

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sage

2 Porcini mushroom bullion cubes

2 qt. vegetable stock

1 pint heavy cream

1 qt. milk

1 package of potato and basil gnocchi

How you’re going to do it:

So you want to start this recipe by building a rue, but instead of using butter you are going to use rendered duck fat. Start by scoring the skin of the duck breast, so it looks like a tic-tac-toe grid, rubbing the breast lightly all over with olive oil, then rub all over with 1 teaspoon each of sage, thyme, rosemary, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper (it’s okay if the duck is heavily seasoned because it will take that flavor with it into

the soup). Place your duck breast skin side down in a frying pan, and place in an oven set to 400*F and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside. (Side note: at this point you may remove the skin from the duck breast, and slide it under the broiler to crisp the skin further, just keep a close eye on it, because it will happen quickly.)

Now put the milk and cream into a sauce pan and let it start warming on low (that way, about 15 minutes from now when you need it, it’ll be nice and warm, making adding it to the rue much easier).  Once that’s done, take the rendered fat from the duck breast and put it in your stock pot on medium-low/medium heat.  Start cooking the diced onion until it turns translucent–at that point add the garlic, another tablespoon or two of butter, and continue cooking until the onions start to caramelize.  Slowly start whisking  the flour into the pot until a nice semi-tight paste forms and let that cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring occasionally and letting the rue brown just slightly.

Once the rue has browned slightly (that is generally how you can tell it has cooked enough to get that floury taste out of it) turn up the heat and start slowly adding the warm milk mixture to the rue, while whisking briskly. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add the mushrooms, gnocchi, sliced duck breast, vegetable broth and mushroom base. Turn heat down to medium/medium low, and let simmer for another 20 minutes to an hour (patience is a virtue, here). Place soup in a bowl,  and top with shaved Parmesan and pieces of sliced crispy duck skin.  Lastly, enjoy.