Gaboileck Chili: Book Bites with Patrick Swenson

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

PSwenson1Patrick Swenson’s Fairwood Press publishes many wonderful books (check them out!) including new short story collections from Tina Connolly and Carolyn Yoachim. Patrick also runs the popular Rainforest Writers Retreat in the pacific northwest. And he’s an international man of mystery … kidding! Patrick is the author of the Ultra Universe and the pre-novella Simply Ruby. He stopped by today to talk about Ultra as well as bring us some truly astounding chili.

The novels The Ultra Big Sleep and The Ultra Thin Man are set 100 years out from now. There’s not much difference in human food, but there is food from the known alien races. We see food from Helkunntanas, home world of the gigantic Helks. The food of the Helks is particularly spicy and difficult for human consumption, but on some of the colony worlds restaurants will have it altered slightly to fit the more delicate human digestive systems. Helks consider this almost sacrilege.

The most mentioned food is the gabobileck, a spicy meat sausage. In book one, our hero is introduced to one in its watered-down format. In book two, on Helkunntanas itself, it’s the real deal. A Helk, returning to his home planet for the first time in a while, picks one up at the Port:

He stopped at the first gabobileck vendor, a Third Clan operating a cart near the entrance just outside the atrium. He ordered four of the meat sausages, slit the casings, and stuffed them with spicy mustard, onions, and an insanely hot green sauce. He devoured them in minutes. By Ozsc. He stood, eyes closed, multiple flavors still banging around in his mouth. He considered buying more, but he would pay for it in flatulence and lost sleep.

Fairwood, Amazon, & Barnes & Noble

A few other choice Helk delicacies include red rice balls and mustard eggs that are Helk hors d’oeuvres, but humans would need knife and fork.

A Helk chili would be off-the-scale spicy. So here’s a recipe for a gabobileck chili, with some other choice ingredients. Actually, this is the first chili I ever made, just a year ago, and it came in 3rd place at a chili contest! In reality, it’s got a little bit of a kick, but isn’t super spicy. (No actual gabobilecks, and of course substitute for Helk Ale with whatever beer you like.)

Gaboileck & Beef 3-Bean Helk Ale Chili


  • Olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces Helk gabobileck sausage, casing removed
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • One 4-ounce can tomato paste
  • One 12-ounce bottle of Helk Ale
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  1. Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and peppers and sauté until soft, about 4-ish minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until just fragrant.
  2. Stir in sausage and beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Drain the beef/sausage mixture through a colander. Add it back to the Dutch oven.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; add the ale and stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bring to a simmer, and then add the diced tomatoes and beans.

Simmer on medium-low for 2 hours

Patrick Swenson edited Talebones magazine for 14 years, and runs Fairwood Press, a book line, which began in 2000. A graduate of Clarion West, his first novel The Ultra Thin Man appeared from Tor in 2014. The sequel, The Ultra Big Sleep, appears this summer. He has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others. He runs the Rainforest Writers Village retreat every spring at Lake Quinault, WA. He is a high school teacher and lives in Bonney Lake, WA with his fourteen­ year ­old son Orion.

You can find Patrick’s books at FairwoodAmazon, & Barnes & Noble.

One comment

  1. Thanks for reminding me about Carolyn book “Seven Wonders…” I definityly want it. I’ve been checking out Rainforest. It seems plausible get away and write.

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