Monday, October 8, 2012

Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Chili

Fall is chili weather. I've made traditional Better Homes and Gardens chili more times than I can count, each time bringing up fond memories of cooking up a batch in a big cast iron pot with my dad as a kid. Much like getting the wishbone is good luck with the Thanksgiving turkey, in my kid brain getting the bay leaf in your bowl of chili was good luck (so as long as you didn't find it by taking a big bite). Although I hope to develop my own signature, but still largely traditional, chili recipe at some point in my life, my recent experimentation in that department has been largely with bean-based chilies. Some may argue that they're not chili at all, but I find bowls of Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato Chili or Quick Three Bean Chili just as hearty and satisfying as any with beef. But of all the bean chilies I've had and made, this has to be my favorite. As in all Susie Middleton recipes, she builds a complex palate with a deft use of spices, each taste keeping you guessing about what you're enjoying in each bite. This chili has a complex heat from ancho and chipotle chilies with a layered smoky flavor, joined a by melange of sweet and savory spices that coexist in perfect harmony. Red wine allows the spices to bloom and intense tomato paste creates savoriness and umami without meat for a balanced and satisfying dish. Hearty, healthy, and packed with flavor this is the perfect way to fortify yourself for the winter to come.

Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Chili
adapted from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton
serves 6

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon ground (dried) chipotle chili
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Kosher salt
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems and leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional for garnish
2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotle in adobo, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can
1 1/2 cups (one 14.5-ounce can) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or two medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
Three 15.5-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Brown rice, for serving
Salsa, for serving (optional)
Sour cream, goat cheese, or queso fresco, for serving (optional)
Toasted pepitas, for serving (optional)
6 lime wedges (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine the ground ancho chile, coriander, cumin, oregano, paprika, brown sugar, cocoa, ground chipotle, cinnamon, cloves, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

2. In a liquid measure, whisk together the red wine, tomato paste, finely chopped cilantro stems and leaves, the chopped chipotle, and the adobo. Set aside.

3. In another liquid measure or bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes with 3 cups water and stir well.

4. In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking until the onion is lightly browned, another 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minutes.

5. Add the dried spice mixture and cook, stirring and scraping until well incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste mixture and cook, stirring and scraping it against the sides of the pan, for 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Add the crushed tomato mixture and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until well combined. Bring the mixture to a gently simmer, and cook, loosely covered, stirring occasionally and continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan, for 20 minutes. Keep and eye on the heat and reduce it, if necessary, to maintain a gently simmer.

7. Uncover the pot and add the drained beans. Raise the heat to medium-high and return the chili to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low and maintain a gentle simmer. Stir thoroughly and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

8.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. The chili will stay warm, covered, off the heat for half an house.

9. To serve, spoon 1 cup rice into each of six deep bowl and ladle about 1 cup chili over the rice. Top with your choice of salsa, sour cream, cilantro, pepitas, and lime wedges.

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