Last spring, for a weekend of camping with families from my daughter’s elementary school, I made a vegetarian chili adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Pierce Street Chili. I subbed yellow split peas and Bhutanese red rice for the farro and barley she calls for and really enjoyed the result. From there I turned to dark and smoky and this admittedly enigmatic chili is the result. It has bacon, so it is not vegetarian, and it has beans, so it is not Texas chili. What it is however, is a savory, smoky, slightly spicy cuppa chili. I hope you enjoy it! —gingerroot
dried black beans
For Chili Powder:
dried California chiles
dried chipotle chiles
1 1/2 teaspoons
whole cumin seed
thick slices bacon, chopped
red onion, chopped
large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups
fresh brewed smoky, bold coffee
dried yellow split peas
Bhutanese red rice (can substitute a fragrant long grain rice such as brown basmati)
1 1/2 cups
14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
balsalmic vinegar mixed with 4 T water
Two days before you want to eat the chili, pick through black beans and rinse. Place in a bowl with enough water to cover by at least two inches. Soak overnight. When ready to make chili, drain beans and rinse, discarding soaking water. Place beans in a clean bowl.
Make Chili Powder: Using kitchen shears and gloves, snip stem end of dried chiles. Tip out seeds and discard. Cut each chile into 1-inch lengths. Toast chile pieces and cumin seeds in a dry pan over med-high heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes, occasionally shaking pan to toss seeds and turning chiles with tongs. Allow mixture to cool. Grind toasted chile pieces, toasted cumin, oregano and cacao in a spice grinder or mini prep chopper until you have a uniform powder. Transfer chile powder to a bowl.
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, until crispy and fat has rendered. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat.
Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to get translucent. Follow with garlic, chile powder, cooking until fragrant, a minute or two.
Add water, hot coffee and black beans. Stir to combine. Add split yellow peas and red rice, stirring between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. As mixture cooks and liquid is absorbed, keep an eye on your liquid level, adding small amounts of water (1/4 cup at a time) if needed.
Add celery, carrots and fire roasted tomatoes. Cook 30-40 minutes more.
When beans and peas are tender (and not a moment before!) add kosher salt (start with 1/2 t and taste before adding more) and aleppo pepper (can sub 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part cayenne for aleppo). Stir in crispy bacon pieces. Allow chili to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
When you are ready to eat, heat chili in pot, covered, over medium heat. Mixture will likely seem dry, so add balsamic/water mixture to pot and cook, covered for at least 15 minutes. Serve chili with garnishes of choice, my favorites include a little cheese, cilantro, sour cream and avocado. Enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.