Let us hope that as we grow older, we and our recipes move to a more conscious state. This chili has its roots in the counter-culture days of the 1970's, at The Farm in Summertown Tennessee. In their little first cookbook, I found a spaghetti sauce that grew into our family's Sloppy Joe. I still enjoy it, but I've been rethinking it, too. Beans instead of TVP, lots of peppers sweet and hot, smoke from the chipotle make a very different potful, with a fresher look and taste. Then I wanted to enhance and offset its rich and spicy character, and the raitas of India came to mind -- calling on two favorite ingredients of the South West.
Of course, cornbread would be perfect with this, but tonight there was none, just some baby bok choy, quickly stir fried with ginger and garlic, finished with sesame oil. It was surprisingly compatible... if not Superbowl friendly. Bring on the tortilla chips! —susan g
6 - 8
large sweet peppers (red, yellow, green)
serrano chile (more to taste)
light oil (canola, grapeseed)
chili powder (blend)
coarse ground black pepper
cooked pinto beans (or 2 cans, rinsed)
canned tomatoes, with liquids*
The SouthWest Raita
chopped cilantro, leaves and top stems, packed
In This Recipe
Soak the chipotle in boiling water to cover. When it is soft, save the liquid, remove the stem and seeds of the chile and mince finely. (You can use a canned chili in adobe instead.)
Chop the onion into good sized pieces, like 1/2" chunks. Slice the sweet peppers into similar size pieces. Finely mince the serrano chile.
Use a good sized heavy pot, at least 3 quarts. Over medium heat, saute the onions and peppers in the oil, stirring off and on until they are soft.
Mix all the seasonings together, and add to the vegetables with the bay leaves.. Stir briskly until they are evenly distributed and roasted a bit -- it will smell great! Keep the heat at medium and do not scorch.
Add the soaking liquid from the chipotle, beans, and tomatoes -- with enough of the liquid from the tomatoes to give a 'saucy' body to the mixed ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Maintain an active simmer for 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally and add more of the tomato liquid as needed. Check the seasoning. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes to give the flavors time to mellow. Serve in wide bowls.
SOUTH WEST RAITA -- Mix cilantro, avocado and yogurt. Serve with the chili.
*About the tomatoes -- I tend to use what ever I have in the pantry, but my first choice would be either diced in puree or whole -- which would need to be hand chopped. There are excellent choices available. Just hold back some of the liquid to account for that variable -- if the liquid seems too thin, reduce it separately before adding it to the pot. You can always put a little water in if it is too thick.