Cool weather + the weekend + Sunday football games mean only one thing: its also chili season. No matter whether you like yours with beans or without, filled with meat or vegetarian friendly, in a red sauce or a white one, spicy or mild, this is definitely the season for chili. And in my house we certainly love chili of all kinds. White chicken chili, sweet potato and black bean chili and even a pumpkin and sausage chili mixed with macaroni are all good but sometimes a more traditional chili is in order. And when that is the case, this is my go-to recipe.
This chili is filled with meat, beans and vegetables and most importantly, packed with flavor. If you prefer you can make it in a slow cooker; simply place all of the ingredients in the crock, set the temperature to low and let it cook for eight hours. Or you can cook it as I do on top of the stove. Let it simmer on low all afternoon and by the time the game is on you’ll have a hot bowl of chili. Top the chili with cheese, sour cream and diced avocado and serve it with a side of corn chips or corn bread.
MEAT & BEAN CHILI
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot thinly sliced
4-5 fresh bell peppers- I used a mix of red and green
4 small jalapeño peppers
1 lb ground beef (can substitute ground pork, veal, lamb or a combination of meats)
1/2 lb veal cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can corn kernels, drained
2 11.5 ounce cans beans- I prefer kidney beans
3 11.5 ounce cans whole Roma tomatoes- roughly chopped
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce- adjust based on preferences
3-4 tablespoons chili powder- I like Penzeys Spice Medium Hot Chili Powder– but adjust based on personalpreferences.
- Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a Dutch oven or other heavy duty pot and place over medium high heat.
- Add the onions, garlic, peppers, carrot, and jalapenos to the pot.
- Add the salt and stirring frequently, cook for 8-10 minutes until soft.
- Add the meats and cook until well browned being sure to break up any larger pieces as you go.
- Add the corn, the drained and rinsed beans and tomatoes with their juice and mix to combine.
- Stir in the Tabasco sauce and the chili powder.
- Stir, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low.
Continue to cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning to meet your personal tastes.
- I let the chili cook on low all afternoon and it tastes even better when reheated the next day. The longer the chili cooks the more the flavors will develop.
- Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado if desired.
It is still winter in these parts and nothing takes the chill off better than a rich and satisfying stew. And if that stew is easy to make it is even better. So look no further as this bean and sausage stew from King Arthur Flour fits all of these requirements.
You do need to plan ahead and soak your beans overnight but once that is done your actual hands on time is minimal. (Don’t skip and use canned beans since dried beans simply have a better taste and texture). And while this is good eaten immediately I think it tastes even better when reheated the next day. So why not make a pot of this stew and enjoy it for the rest of the week?
WHITE BEAN & SAUSAGE STEW
3 cups white beans, soaked in water overnight, washed and drained
7 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, sliced
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 pound kale, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
- Rinse the beans and place them in a large stock pot along with the chicken broth and water. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 50-60 minutes until the beans are soft, adding extra water if needed to prevent them from drying out.
- While the beans cook, in a separate pan, sauté the sausage until cooked through.
- Remove the sausage from the pan, drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat then add the onions and celery to the pan. Sauté until translucent.
- When the beans are soft, add the sautéed onions, celery, sausage, diced sweet potato and kale to the pot and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
If you love pumpkin and you love hummus, this dip from Cooking Light is for you. Not only is it easy and can be whipped up in minutes but it also tastes great and is super versatile. I prefer to roast and puree my own pumpkin and use dried beans that I have cooked myself rather than canned ones but if you are going to quick and last minute, canned pumpkin puree and beans will work as well.
I can eat this dip by the spoonful but it is also great with crudite, pita chips or pretzels and you can also smear it on a sandwich or crackers. Your options are truly endless so go ahead and give it a try today. You won’t be disappointed.
WHITE BEAN & PUMPKIN HUMMUS
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Place the pumpkin and the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Puree until smooth. Alternatively, place the pumpkin and beans in a medium sized bowl and puree using a stick blender.
- Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds or until all of the ingredients have been combined and the hummus is smooth.
- Serve with crudite, pretzels, crackers or just a spoon.
Yields: 2 cups
Cassoulet is a classic comfort food when it comes to French cooking. Slow cooked beans and meats are combined with a healthy dose of garlic to create the ultimate in comfort food. I’ve seen recipes that use entirely one meat or a combination of several. This recipe is based on one from William Sonoma but I’ve taken the liberty of adding duck to the combination of meat. Duck is commonly used as is pork or lamb and no cassoulet would be complete without the addition of garlicky Toulouse sausage. This may sound complicated but making a cassoulet is more time consuming than difficult. Think of the meats listed as suggestions and keeping the quantities the same, substitute whichever meats you can find. Or reduce the amount of meat you use while increasing the amount of beans.
But as I already mentioned, making a cassoulet takes time but I think of it as the perfect weekend cooking project. I’ll start by soaking and cooking the beans on Saturday then brown the meats on Sunday morning. Then all I have to do that afternoon is assemble the dish and pop it in the oven. Cassoulet is good out of the oven but I think it tastes even better the next day which is perfect since unless you are feeding a crowd, you are sure to have leftovers.
2 1/2 cups dried Great Northern beans
1 yellow onion pierced with 10 whole cloves
1 lb. thickly sliced bacon, finely diced
3/4 pound boneless leg of lamb
1 duck leg, about 1 pound
1 pound pork loin
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound Toulouse sausage
8 garlic cloves, minced
8 fresh parsley stems
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups fine dried bread crumbs
- Pick over the beans and discard any misshapen beans and stones. Rinse, place in a bowl and add water to cover generously. Let stand for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Drain and place in a saucepan with the onion and water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, until almost tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Drain, discarding the onion and reserving the liquid.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F.
- Place the duck leg in a large ovenproof stew pot. Turn the heat to low and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the fat has been rendered.
- Pour off the fat and reserve for another use. Remove the duck from the pot and set aside.
- Add the bacon to the pot and fry until it begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Reserve the drippings in the pot.
- Season the lamb and pork with salt and pepper and add to the stew pot along with the duck leg.
- Place in the oven and roast, basting occasionally with the bacon drippings, until the meat is tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Remove from the oven, let cool and cut the pork and lamb into 1-inch cubes. Remove the meat from the duck leg, cut into 1 inch cubes and discard the bones. Set all of the meat aside. Do not wash the pot.
- While the meat is roasting, prick the sausages with a fork. Place in a medium sized frying pan and add enough water to cover the sausages halfway.
- Simmer gently over medium high heat, turning once, until almost cooked through, about 12 minutes total.
- Drain the sausages and let cool before slicing on the diagonal.
- Place one-third of the drained beans in the reserved pot.
- Sprinkle with half of the bacon, lamb, pork, duck, sausage, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Using kitchen string, tie the parsley stems, thyme sprigs and bay leaves into a bundle. Add to the pot.
- Repeat the layers, using half of the remaining beans and all of the remaining meats, sausage and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remaining beans.
- In a bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 cups of the reserved bean liquid. Pour into the pot just to cover the beans.
- Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour; adding more bean liquid, if necessary, to prevent the beans from drying out.
- Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and continue to bake until golden, about 1 hour more.
- Discard the herb bundle and serve directly from the pot.
Serves 8 to 10.
Shortly before we left Albania a new Chinese restaurant opened up that reminded me of what I had been missing. I love Chinese food, the spicier and more flavorful the better, but prior to this restaurant’s opening, our options were rather limited and bland. Because of this discovering this restaurant was like nirvana and my family quickly became regulars. While their menu was extensive and varied, the best dishes were those that weren’t on the menu. Our standard method of ordering became a request to the chef to make whatever he recommended for the day. And because the staff knew us and knew that we liked our food hot and spicy, our taste buds always got a workout.
The entrees that came to the table always varied but the one dish that remained a constant was a chili infused green bean dish. We loved it, and as soon as we realized that it was unwise to actually eat the dried peppers that accompanied the beans, we simply couldn’t get enough of them. Unlike so many vegetables in Albania, these weren’t soggy and overcooked. Rather, they were tender crisp and spicy to the bite. We’ve since left Albania and I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant that can replicate these beans. But my attempt is pretty darn close to the real thing. You can adjust the amount of chili peppers to meet your preferences for spice. These proportions make for a heat infused dish so you plan accordingly. Enjoy!
SPICY FLAT BEANS
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes, more or less to taste
2 dried Thai chili peppers, crushed, more or less to taste
1 pound fresh flat beans, rinsed and ends snipped
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Place the sesame oil in a cast iron wok and set over high heat.
- Once the oil shimmers add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and crushed Thai chili peppers. Tossing regularly (bamboo tongs work well), saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the green beans to the wok and toss to coat with the oil and pepper mixture.
- Cook over high heat, tossing regularly for 2-3 minutes or until the beans are tender crisp and cooked to your liking.
- Remove the wok from the heat and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Serve immediately, with or without the chili peppers.
Winter weather brings out my cravings for hearty stews and casseroles and nothing makes them easier to prepare than a slow cooker. Simply put all of your ingredients in the pot in the morning, cover it, and let it do all of the work. You’ll return home at the end of the day to a dinner that is ready to eat.
These baked beans, courtesy of Simply Recipes, is hearty, satisfying, and the ultimate in comfort food. You do need to soak the beans overnight. Alternatively, you can bring the beans to a boil in a pot covered with two inches of water the let them soak for one hour before draining an proceeding with the recipe. Serve the beans as a side with meat or as an entree all on their own.
SLOW COOKED BOSTON BAKED BEANS
1 pound dry white beans
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups hot water
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
- Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight then drain.
- Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard and ground cloves in 3 cups of hot water.
- Line the bottom of a slow-cooker with half of the bacon. Add half of the drained beans, distributing evenly over the top of the bacon.
- Add all of the onions in a single layer then top with the remaining beans and bacon.
- Pour the molasses and water mixture over the top of the beans to just cover them,
- Cover and cook in a slow-cooker set on the low setting for 8 hours until the beans are tender. Check periodically to ensure that they are covered with water. Watch carefully since some beans will cook faster than others.
Serves: 5-6 as a main dish or 10-12 as a side