December 29, 2009

Easy Chili for a Cold Winter Night

Today is a definite sweater and mitten’s kind of day. Our car was iced over when we left for work and I couldn’t have been happier about having the luxury of a seat warmer to keep me from shivering on our short drive into the Culinary School. My mind is already racing forward to the end of the day to figure out something warm and comforting to make for dinner.

My friend Holly gave me a recipe much like this many years ago when Kristen and I went to her house for lunch. I’ve tweaked it a bit. You can sauté the main ingredients a little in the morning then keep the concoction simmering slowly in a Crockpot while you’re away. The smell of a spicy hearty chili is the perfect ‘welcome home’ on a cold evening after a day of work. It’s a little thicker than most and has a gorgeous range of color because of the rather untraditional addition of added veggies.

1 lb. ground turkey breast or 1 package ground soy-protein n (Mexican style is available in the deli section at New Seasons)

A few spoonfuls of olive oil (to sauté the peppers, onion and carrots in)

1 chopped sweet onion

1 chopped red or green pepper

2 or 3 fresh carrots chopped

2  cans of chopped tomatoes

1 small can of tomato paste

2 cans of black beans, drained

1 can of corn, drained

1 can of large black olives, drained

Fresh garlic (about 3 cloves chopped)

Smoked Paprika (or chili powder if you don’t have Smoked Paprika) about ½ tsp.

A dash of red pepper flakes, about ½ tsp, or according to how much heat you like

Salt and pepper to taste

Simply brown turkey in a large Dutch oven while you chop the onion, bell pepper and carrots. Toss into the pan with the browned meat and cook until slightly soft. (if you want to go completely vegetarian, simply sauté the veggies on their own) Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, drained black beans, and corn, olives and bring to a light boil. Allow to boil gently for about 5 minutes then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add in chopped garlic, smoked paprika, the red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or set on low in the slow cooker for several hours. Just before serving garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. (a dollop of sour cream adds a little cool creaminess to the spicy warm stew-like consistency)

Also, this dish tastes best with a side of warm golden corn bread with honey and butter drizzled over the top and Tecate Mexican beer with a wedge of lime. 

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