February 24, 2016 34

The Saint Louis Slinger with Lentil Chili + Cumin Cream + scenes from alton!

The Saint Louis Slinger | @withfoodandlove

I read somewhere at some point, that it takes about a year to acclimate into a new space.

And it took me all of that to really feel comfortable about living in St. Louis. I’ve written about my move to the Midwest a lot and I don’t want to recap those transitional emotions because I’m actually really enjoying my slow and steady life here. But I do want to talk about something I have had a very strong opinion about since it was introduced to me. And that’s The Saint Louis Slinger. From concept to execution to name – this guy bugs me.

The Saint Louis Slinger, or just slinger for short is a Midwestern breakfast or late-night specialty food that typically consists of eggs, potatoes, some kind of gross meat and chili that’s generously smothered with some kind of super-processed melty cheese and onions. I wanted nothing to do with these beasts. I avoided them at all costs and didn’t want to try one until recently. To me they represented everything about the Midwest I thought I hated.

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Alton, IL | @withfoodandlove

Lazy, unrefined, uncultured, unhealthy.

These were just a few of the words that came to mind when I thought about the slinger, and subsequently the Midwest. I might lose a few friends over that. I’m sorry {not really}, but I moved here quite reluctantly and this dish wasn’t about to win me over.

Thankfully, over the course of the year my opinion on the Midwest and particularly Midwestern food culture has evolved. And after trying a veg slinger at my favorite brunch spot I realized I can totally get down with this dish. Actually I make them at home all the time now. They’re versatile, and change with the seasons using whatever miscellany vegetables you have on hand depending on that time of year. You do need chili to make this though. So it’s kind of the perfect breakfast or dinner to make when you have chili leftovers. I prefer to use this super savory lentil chili infused with dark chocolate. Also worth noting – the vegan cumin cream, although optional, kind of takes the whole bowl to the next level.

The other thing I want to talk about are bald eagles. They come by the hundreds and just chill on the Mississippi riverbank for a few months in the winter, and it’s the most spectacular sight in the world. I never knew this happened. This was a great Midwestern surprise. A few weekends ago Chris and I took a drive over the river to Alton, Illnois. A little town where birders and birdwatchers alike come and check out these birds of prey.

The day we were there it was warm and sunny with blue skies forever. We spotted several bald eagles with our binoculars, but none were close enough to capture with my lens. I did get some beautiful sea birds flocking together, and a committee of vultures resting on a tree top which was equally thrilling for me. Does taking day trips to spot eagles make you an old person? Okay, good.

The Saint Louis Slinger | @withfoodandlove

Super Savory Lentil Chili with Dark Chocolate + Cumin Cream | @withfoodandlove

The Saint Louis Slinger | @withfoodandlove

The Saint Louis Slinger {print me!}

Notes: the Slinger is incredibly versatile. Feel free to swap out ingredients for whatever you have on hand. No potatoes, use squash. No avocado, use tomatoes. You get the drift. This recipe will serve 4, and it only takes about 20 minutes to put together.


  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 eggs, poached or fried
  • 4 cups chili {see below}
  • 1/4 cup cumin cream {see below}
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and/or scrub the potatoes and dice them small. Toss them in the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown, and flipping them halfway through.

As the potatoes are roasting heat your chili and prepare your eggs.

To assemble each bowl, layer the lentil chili with potatoes, eggs, cumin cream, avocado, onion and cilantro. Serve warm with bread on the side {optional}.

Super Savory Lentil Chili with Dark Chocolate

Notes: this lentil chili has all the flavors of a traditional chili recipe, but the dark chocolate brings in the right amount of depth and richness. The recipe will serve about 4 – 6 people, and only takes 30 minutes to make.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 8 ounce can no-salt tomato sauce
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • {1} 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ounce extra dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, and sauté for about 5 – 7 minutes, translucent and slightly caramelized. Turn the heat up to medium and add in the lentils, tomato sauce, broth, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and coriander. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Add in the crushed tomatoes and dark chocolate. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Cumin Cream

Notes: this recipe yields a 1/2 cup, and takes only 5 minutes to whip together. You can store the leftover cream in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

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34 Responses to "The Saint Louis Slinger with Lentil Chili + Cumin Cream + scenes from alton!"

  1. Reply


    February 24, 2016 at 8:57 PM

    I’ve gotta admit I’ve lived in Alton most my life and never heard of this slinger ! Can’t wait to try this version, sounds delish. Glad you enjoyed your time on our side if the river :)

    • Reply


      February 24, 2016 at 9:02 PM

      Wow! Maybe they are strictly a St. Louis thing. And, I totally loved your little town, and I can’t wait to come back and walk along the river when the weather is nice and all the leaves are green. It reminds me a lot of a road that runs through Philadelphia {where I came from} – xx!

  2. Reply


    February 25, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    Love this one, Sherrie! If there’s any way to embrace a new home, it’s most definitely through food. Looks like you’ve made it your own here and it sounds delicious – what’s not to love? xx

  3. Reply


    February 25, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    Looks delicious! Hold the poached egg and i’m in heaven. Thanks!

  4. Reply


    February 25, 2016 at 8:51 AM

    Sherrie! This is making me crazy! Like, I want to run into the kitchen and make it right now crazy! Lentils make the BEST chili and I love the flavors you use, like the coriander and that bit of dark chocolate. Then that topping (I confess…never heard of the Saint Louis Slinger!) with the potatoes, egg and cumin cream….ahhhh. Making this ASAP!

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:58 PM

      I hope you love it Caroline! This chili is the bomb dot com, xx!

  5. Reply

    Alexandra Caspero

    February 25, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    Yes. I feel this in so many ways! Even though I’ve only been in St. Louis for 6 months… it’s been a slow, weird transition. The Midwest is not like California. It’s not all negative, just different. But, I have been presently surprised by the diverse food options. Never had a slinger though! Love this vegetarian version, I’ll be trying it soon!

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:59 PM

      Alexandra the Mudhouse has an amazing vegetarian slinger {that’s where I first tried it} – and just an awesome brunch in general if you’ve never been there YOU MUST GO!

  6. Reply

    Arthur in the Garden!

    February 25, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    Yum! I will be making the chili tonight!

  7. Reply


    February 25, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    It’s so funny that the midwest definitely has some quirky, unhealthy regional food. Growing up 3 hours from St. Louis, I have never heard of this dish but we had our own unhealthy meals (horseshoe’s and some weird gravy dish to name a couple.) This is a beautiful (healthy) riff!

    On the moving note, I waited 25 years to move away and I thought I wouldn’t look back but there are days I miss it. We’ve talked about moving back (primarily for the babe to grow up around the grandparents) but it feels slightly crazy to willingly leave California. Glad the Midwest is growing on you. If you ever have a day to spend- drive up through small towns and hit all the antique stores- cheap and great stuff hiding in every nook!

  8. Reply

    Lisa Michelle

    February 25, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    I have been anxiously awaiting a new recipe and this one sounds amazing. I am heading to the market now to get what few of these ingredients I don’t have in my kitchen already. Thank you for always giving things your own spin!

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:59 PM

      Thanks for reading Lisa – this comment made my day, xx!

  9. Reply


    February 25, 2016 at 11:59 AM

    Ok, I don’t know anything about the bald eagles hanging out together or this slinger concept, but I am VERY into both ideas. Moving up to KC from Oklahoma (which I would not consider Midwestern) required more of an adjustment than I thought it would. Hope you’ll make it over here in the spring when the tulips are on display!

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 5:00 PM

      KC in the spring is on my list! See you soon ??

  10. Reply

    Tessa | Salted Plains

    February 25, 2016 at 8:48 PM

    I think STL has their mark on the slinger, I’ve never seen it here in KC. But your version – this should definitely become a thing here. Reading this made me remember I came across your blog for the very first time about year ago! I’m so glad St. Louis is feeling more at home for you. I grew up in KC, but after being away so long, it certainly took me a good long year to transition back (and stop tearing up when watching movies filmed in NYC!!). And also, what Kathryn said! ^ xo.

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:48 PM

      Maybe KC will catch onto it?? A springtime trip is on my list! xx

  11. Reply

    Lily | Kale & Caramel

    February 25, 2016 at 10:37 PM

    SO MUCH TO SAY. First of all, thank you for teaching me that a flock of vultures is called a COMMITTEE. Life. Changed. Second of all, I totally get that anti-midwest bias. As the child of somewhere from beyond even the coasts, I get it. And as someone who found one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever encountered in the year I lived in Michigan, I can also wholeheartedly vouch for the magic of the midwest. And finally, I am so glad you’ve started to embrace these new midwestern roots, because hot diggity am I excited about this bowl of yum. Cannot wait to try!! Just gorgeous, Sherrie.

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:48 PM

      THE MIDWEST IS MAGICAL! Can I make that into a t-shirt? xx

  12. Reply

    Phoebe @ Feed Me Phoebe

    February 26, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    Happy Anni Sherrie!! Come back to NYC soon if you get homesick for kale and gluten-free pizza!

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 4:47 PM

      Coming home is on my list! xx

  13. Reply

    danielle // rooting the sun

    February 26, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    i’ve now been properly introduced to the slinger, Sherrie! not only that, you’ve instilled instant cravings for it inside of me. – – and on the midwest, i found myself nodding completely to your sentiments. it was not in my plans to ever move to south dakota (yet i’ve called it home, on and off, for about three years now). and after acclimating settles down, and you are able to view the new concept of ‘home’ with a relaxed focal – there is definitely something to be said about the way of life out here. and there may be prairie for miles and wind that knocks your breath away, but i’ve found that there is also tremendous embrace. (and ps – gorgeous eagles, bird-scoping is high on my list of pastimes).

  14. Reply

    genevieve @ gratitude & greens

    February 26, 2016 at 10:44 AM

    Sherrie!!! Oh my gosh okay I need to email you, I am definitely going to be in St. Louis at some point this summer and we HAVE to have a Mud House date. I love your version of the slinger, especially the cumin cream! So glad you are enjoying life in STL more now! xoxo

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 5:01 PM

      Yes, yes, yes Gen!

  15. Reply


    February 26, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    I love it when bloggers add their personality and stories into their blog posts. And you do this so well. Not only I get to learn a recipe but I also learn about a place that I have never been before.
    Lentil chocolate chili and the cumin cream sound so SO delicious.
    PS: I am glad to hear that you are enjoying your slow and steady life in the Midwest. <3

    • Reply


      February 28, 2016 at 5:01 PM

      I hope you are settling into life in PA Aysegul, sending love! xx

  16. Reply

    Amanda Paa

    February 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

    even being from the midwest, i hadn’t heard of the saint louis slinger. but sounds like the traditional way is a little scarier, however yours makes me want to have some in the freezer at all times. heck yes, with all those toppings too. nourishing!

    in minnesota we have a highway where the bald eagles soar along each spring, and wow, if it isn’t enchanting. gorgeous shots my friend. xo

  17. Reply

    Amy | Lemon and Coconut

    February 27, 2016 at 11:26 PM

    Wow that looks super amazing! I’d be down there to see those eagles like a shot!! The photos of the birds in the coloured sky are just sublime :)

  18. Reply

    Pure Ella

    February 29, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    This looks amazing Sherrie!! Ha I was curious to know what this slinger was and even before I read your description, I pictured something gross that I probably wouldn’t have touched! lol

    This looks amazing however – and it’s about time the South got a fresher spin on their cuisine! :)

    ps. I love your bird photos!! Just art-print worthy!! xo

  19. Reply


    March 2, 2016 at 5:24 AM

    This is a great tribute to feeling misplaced and then finding one’s footing, Sherrie. And the recipe looks so wholesome and delicious, too!

  20. Reply

    Jill Mackenzie-Jackson

    March 2, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    Hi Sherrie… greetings from down under in New Zealand… as I write I have my lentils bubbling merrily away…. today is the 3rd day of Autumn for us, so with the sun ever so slightly lower in the sky, I thought this would be a great recipe heading into the cooler days. Once I overcame my ounces-to-grams fear (of getting it terribly wrong), all is good. My one question is: how much should this reduce? It seemed that 5 cups of broth was a lot, but I trust you. :) Your lentils look like they have reduced by half or more once the crushed toms etc are added.
    Love your site, have shared it amongst my friends – only the best for them. :) Jill

  21. Reply

    Jill Mackenzie-Jackson

    March 2, 2016 at 8:42 PM

    Oh dear Sherrie… it appears your version of chilli powder and ours differ somewhat – ours is just chillies ground into a powder… thanks to google, I am now informed that your version is a blend – My lentil mix has just about taken my head from my shoulders it’s sooooo hot. Hey, you learn something new everyday :) Will definitely try again with some adjustment. :)

  22. Reply


    March 3, 2016 at 8:32 PM

    I was born and raised in Alton and am still here! I’ve definitely never heard of a slinger, but I’m going to try this vegan one for sure!!! Thanks for the recipe and glad the Midwest isn’t as awful as you thought. I, however, tend to share your initial opinions! Lol

  23. Reply


    April 20, 2016 at 7:26 PM

    This is the first recipe I’ve tried from your site. It turned out great. The whole family (my husband and two boys) agreed. I’ll be coming back for more! Thanks!!

    • Reply


      April 20, 2016 at 10:23 PM

      Hey Sheela! You’re so welcome – I’m so glad it was a hit. xx

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With Food + Love © 2018 | All photos + words belong to Sherrie Castellano -- they cannot be used or distributed without permission.