Black Bean Veggie Chili

As a nice respite from all of the rich, heavy holiday food, as well as a warm bowl of comfort food against the chill and dreary 39-degree rainy day, yesterday I made a big pot of chili. Packed full of veggies and protein-laden black beans, this dish is winter locavore cooking at its best: peppers chopped and quick-frozen back in August only need pouring into a measuring cup; sweet corn, blanched and cut off the cob, frozen at the peak of summer flavor and just waiting to be used in this chili; fat jalapenos from my garden, also frozen and at the ready.  All that work back in the dog days of summer pays off now with a chili pulled together in under an hour (with the exception of the black beans, which spent most of the day soaking and then simmered on the back of the stove for an hour or so).

This chili was very flavorful and really hit the spot; the mix of vegetables felt purely decadent after what has seemed to be a meat- and fat-laden holiday.  I could have used more beans in the chili (I only cooked up a half-pound), so next time I will increase the amount of beans, but other than that, this was a nice surprise for a first time recipe. I used Elise’s Vegetarian Chili recipe on Simply Recipes for inspiration, but made so many changes that it didn’t feel like an adaptation as much as an invention.

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Black Bean Veggie Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 lb dried black beans, soaked and cooked until tender, or 3 to 6 cups cooked beans (See Options)
  • 3 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 3 small onions)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled, diced to 1/4-inch
  • 2 celery stalks, scrubbed and trimmed, sliced lenghtwise and sliced to 1/4-inch
  • 1 to 2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded if desired and minced (wear gloves)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper, about 2 peppers diced to 1/2-inch squares (frozen)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped banana pepper, about 5 to 6 peppers diced to 1/2-inch squares (frozen)
  • 1 28-oz can organic crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano (or 3 tbsp chopped, fresh oregano)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp local chile powder or cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen, thawed)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • a few dashes Tabasco
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

METHODS

  1. Soak, cook and drain the beans according to your preferred method.  Salt the beans about halfway through the cooking process. (Or substitute 2 to 4 cans of cooked black beans).
  2. Heat the bacon grease (or olive oil) over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or stockpot.  When shimmering, add the onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the carrots, celery and jalapeno, reduce heat slightly and saute until celery begins to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add a little stock if the vegetables begin to stick.
  3. Add the bell and banana peppers and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, with juice, stock, cumin, oregano, fennel and chile powder; mix well.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the beans, lemon and lime juice, mix well, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add more stock if the chili seems too thick; if it seems too thin, simmer with the cover partially or all the way off the pan. 
  5. About 5 minutes before serving, add the corn, cilantro or parsley, salt and pepper.  Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve hot, garnished with sour cream or plain yogurt, grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro or parsley.  Serve with warm whole wheat tortillas.

Serves 6 – 8.

OPTIONS

  1. This recipe can be 100% local with beans from Cayuga Pure Organics, and by omitting the lemon & lime juices (substitute cider vinegar for a little acid). I would not omit cumin, as it imparts a particular flavor hard to reproduce with local ingredients.
  2. This recipe is primarily vegetarian; I used bacon grease and chicken stock because they were on hand, but olive oil and vegetable stock would work just as well.
  3. While quite tasty, I thought this recipe could have used more beans.  Next time, while keeping the same amount of veggies, I will likely cook up a pound of beans; either all black beans, or a mix of black and white beans.  For a more veggie/less bean chile, use 1/2 pound (3 cups) of beans; for a very beany chile, use a full pound (6 cups).
  4. I made this recipe while my Mom was here for Christmas, so I intentionally made it much less spicy that I would for my palate.  Increase the chile powder to 1 tsp, or add additional jalapenos or habaneros peppers, to increase the heat.  Be aware of the difference between “chili” powder, which is usually ground, dried chile peppers mixed with other spices, and “chile” powder, sometimes called chile pepper, which is pure ground, dried chile peppers.  Chili powder is usually added in tablespoon amounts, while chile powder/pepper is used more sparingly.

STORE

Like all chilis, this dish will improve on the second day.  It will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Beans don’t freeze and thaw all that well, but if you must freeze, use within 1 month to preserve the best texture of the beans.

SEASON

Technically year-round, but this is a great winter dish.

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2 comments

  1. This looks like a wonderful winter meal. The use of lemon and lime juice, cilantro and fresh tomatoes, must give it a delightful fresh flavor. Thanks for sharing. I love your recipes!

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