Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potato Chile...

Cheech 'n Chili...
What could be better?

My sister and I gave up meat at approximately the same time, in August of 2010. Actually, she's the one who inspired my wife and I to give it a try. Ever since that time, we've been sharing recipes with each other, as well as new ideas and techniques for preparing and cooking our starches, grains, and veggies.

Last week, she gave me a call to tell me about a delicious chili recipe she'd stumbled upon. Not only did she think it was delicious, but her husband and two growing boys (8 and 10) also approved. We've made it twice during the past ten days, and I'd have to agree that it's absolutely fantastic.

With that, I give you the following recipe for Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili.

I've made a few modifications to the original recipe to make it more healthy. As such, I can now call it my own, and I encourage you to make it your own, as well.

The biggest change that you may notice is the absence of any olive oil as part of the saute process. During the past few months, I've been reading up on quite a bit of research and information about why olive oil may not be the 'health elixir' that the media cracks it up to be. And I will share some of this information with you in a future post.

In the meantime, you may rest easily at night knowing that you can saute vegetables in just about any liquid, be it water, vegetable broth, white wine, balsamic vinegar... beer... anything wet, really.

As with any chili recipe, you can throw it together at the last minute, cook it for 35 to 40 minutes, and then chow down. However, your best bet is to make it several hours (or even a full day) ahead of time and let it simmer on low for a loooooooooooong time. That way, all the flavors and spices have a chance to meld together.

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped up
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (you pick the color), chopped
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained
  • 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (no sodium)
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or a pinch to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

What ya do:

Line a stock pot with a thin layer of the vegetable broth and crank heat to medium-high/high. Once the broth is steaming, add the garlic and onions and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. If all of the vegetable broth evaporates, add a bit more to prevent sticking.

Add the sweet potato, carrots, and bell peppers and continue to saute for about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and limpid.

Add all of the spices and stir them in until all of the veggies are evenly coated.

Add the beans and diced tomatoes, along with the rest of the vegetable broth, and stir until the veggies are well-coated with the spices. Once the chili returns to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for an hour or more. If you cook it for an hour, that's just... good. If you can simmer it on a really low setting for 3-4 hours, that's... even better.
Simmering...  simmering...  simmering some more...

Or, if you simmer it down for a few hours, let it cool, and keep it in the fridge overnight to serve the next day... all of the ingredients and flavors will have a chance to engage in a low-down, dirty orgy together during their scandalous, one-night stand in the fridge. The offspring of this filthy rendezvous will be... sinfully delicious.

This chili easily stands on its own, with homemade bread, as a complete meal. However, it also works really well when dumped over brown rice. If you'd like a spicier end-product, feel free to add your favorite hot sauce to the bowl.

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