Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meat, Bean, and Root Vegetable Chili with Basil, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Cornbread

This is an amalgamation of a couple of different recipes I've used in the past. It turned out great and I'll definitely make it again in the future.

Makes 6-8 servings

1 Tbsp oil
1 lb. (approx.) ground beef, pork, or turkey, or a combination thereof
1 large or two small onions, minced
1-2 hot peppers (jalapeno or habanero), minced, seeds OK
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp chili flakes or a sprinkling of cayenne powder (optional)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small -OR- 1 medium butternut squash, diced small -OR- a combination of the two
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 box beef or chicken stock
2 15 oz. can beans (pinto, black, navy, kidney, black-eyed pea, etc.), drained

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium flame and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and all spices (chili powder through chili flakes) and stir. Sweat for 3-4 minutes.

Push the onion and pepper mixture to the sides of the pan. Add the meat to the center of the pan (adding a touch more oil if you're worried about sticking) and break up with a wooden spoon. Once browning, stir to coat with onion and spices. Cook until no longer pink.

Add the sweet potato and/or squash, and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes and stock. Stir, raise heat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 1/2 hour.

Add beans 15 minutes before serving. Taste for seasoning at the end and adjust. If it feels like something is missing but you don't want to add more salt, try a splash or two of vinegar (red wine, sherry, even white wine or champagne) and maybe a pinch of sugar. You could add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, too, if the spice level is too subtle.

I always like to serve cornbread with my chili (along with any toppings I may have on hand - radishes, red onion, scallion, garlic scape, cilantro, basil, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, etc.).
This is how I make the cornbread:

Makes 8-10 servings

1 package Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (or a combination of half & half and water, since we usually only have half & half)
1 jalapeno, minced (ribs and seeds removed)
1 handful basil and/or cilantro, minced
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Add egg and milk to dry mix and stir to fully combine. Add jalapeno, basil and/or cilantro, and cheddar, and mix gently.

Spray 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray and fill with cornbread mix. Place in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Check starting at 15 minutes to make sure the bread doesn't burn. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Works great in a muffin tin as well. Follow the cooking time directions on the side of the same box.