OK, we could have been eating roast pumpkin leftovers and cucumber salad for a couple of more days, but yesterday I rebelled against ‘eating from the fridge’ and ‘budget shopping’. I had a sudden, real, unavoidable craving for something spicy and flavorful and hearty and meaty. In short, I wanted chili.
This would be a challenge in itself, because last week I discovered a colony of bugs in my dried chili supply and had to toss them all out – bugs, chiles, the whole lot.
It’s a good thing I’m going to London next week, where, I’m told, the Spice Shop sells all kinds of dried chiles (from smoky dried chipotles to guajillos).
But my meaty black bean chili could not wait until I replenished my chili stash so I had to improvise. The combination of chipotles in adobo, heady spices like cumin, allspice and coriander seed, smoked Spanish pimenton, and finally a garnish of crispy smoked bacon resulted in an unorthodox, possibly blasphemous, but excellent chili. It had just the kind of spicyness I was looking for: the spicyness that's warm rather than sharp, a spicyness that's more about deep strong flavors than about sudden heat.
Toppings included avocado, soft goats cheese, fresh coriander,cool cucumber, and crsipy smoked bacon (the third element in the smoky trinity). And I also made skillet cornbread!
Klary’s Smokin’ Hot Chili
250 grams dried black beans
400 grams beef suitable for stewing
4 large onions, minced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 small chipotle from a can of chipotles in adobo, cut up, and about 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
½ teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican oregano (I had some that I bought at the farmers market in Santa Fe, it’s much more fragrant and spicy than European oregano)
About half a glass of wine, any color
A pinch of sugar
250 ml. pureed tomates from a can
250 ml light chicken stock
2 tablespoons of Turkish red pepper paste
Salt & pepper
garnishes: cubed avocado, soft fresh cheese or sour cream, something cool and crisp (cucumber, radishes), smoked crispy bacon.
Pick over the beans, rinse them, put them in a pan with water to amply cover. Bring to the boil, add a bit of salt, and cook over low heat until the beans are tender (it depends on the freshness of the beans how long this will take – probably an hour or 2).
Then, cut the beef into very (and I mean very) small cubes. Don’t be tempted to use ground meat for this dish: the hearty robust flavors demand the extra texture from the cut up beef.
Toast the coriander seed, allspice and cumin seed in a small frying pan until fragrant, then grind them to a powder in a mortar.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven. Season the meat with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the meat (I did not bother with doing this in batches - it's ok if it doesn't get really brown). When it has some color, add the onions and garlic and fry for 5 mionutes or so until the onions start to soften. Then add the spice mixture from the mortar, the smoked paprika, oregano, the miced chipotle and chipotle sauce, and the red pepper paste. fry all of this for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
Then add the tomatoes, stock, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for an hour and a half. While it's cooking, check that it doesn't get too dry - add some water if necessary.
If you started your beans before you started your meat, they may be almost cooked by now. If not, turn off the heat under the meat sauce, and wait till they are. Then, drain the beans and add them to the meat, and cook everything together for another hour.
You can eat it now, but it will taste better tomorrow.
Serve hot, and put bowls of the garnishes on the table for everyone to help themselves.
All in all, this wasn't really too expensive: about 7 euros for the meat and beans, and everything else came from the pantry/leftovers. We ate a lot and still had enough to put one huge portion in the freezer for another day.