Food on Friday – Black Bean Chili


One of the more exciting dye projects that I am working on uses black beans, and while the compost pile is a fine final recycle use for the beans, I thought that I might want to find some recipes that used black beans that the family might like.

This time I turned to Bon Appetit’s web page, searched for black beans and found their recipe for Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash.  Hmmmmm – this sounded like it had definite possibilities as my family likes chili and I personally prefer the vegetarian chilis to the meat based ones so down to the kitchen I went.

To start – the recipe does not call for soaking your black beans the night before you cook them – but a few of the comments on the recipe noted that the beans seemed to cook better if you did, and that is how I would normally prepare beans, so I put a pound of black beans into a pot of water the night before and let them soak.  (I did rinse off the beans before putting them in the soaking pot to get off any dirt or loose bean coverings on the beans.)  Here’s what I started with the next morning.

Because of the long cooking time, I did not prepare this dish with the boys as I had to get it going while they were still in school.  The preparation is really pretty easy.  Here are the ingredients that I used in this:

  • one pound of black beans – dry
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • chili powder (2-4 tablespoons)
  • oregano
  • 2 big cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes in sauce
  • 2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (canned)
  • 3 cups of cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup of bulghur
  • shredded monteray jack cheese as a topping

I started with two large onions.

Okay, I really didn’t have to include that picture but I really liked it so I put it in.  My husband must be rubbing off on me because I never really liked subtle non-colors before.  Hmmmm.  Okay, back to the recipe.

I chopped the onions and threw them into the big chili pot (my red Le Creuset dutch oven – just perfect for making chili) with some olive oil and sauteed them until they were translucent and soft.

While the onions were cooking I chopped my garlic cloves and then added them to the pot.

I sauteed this for only a minute or two and then added my chili powder.

(You can always tell when my flash finally decides to actually flash for the picture.  Okay back to the recipe.)

I don’t measure – I just throw alot of chili powder into the pot – usually closer to 4 tablespoons than 2, though the recipe called for 2 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder.  The recipe also called for coriander but, since that is one of those spices I am not overly fond of, I left it out.  You can always add it if you like.

I think that looks really good – no coriander necessary.

I then opened the can of chilis and pulled out two chipotle chilis – saving the adobo sauce for a future recipe.

So here is where I did something dumb.  I pulled the chilis out of the can, put them on the cutting board, looked to pick up the knife, realized my hands still had the sauce on my fingers, and put my fingers into my mouth to get the sauce off of them.

Dumb.

And Hot!

Half a glass of milk later I was fine (and Chip graciously got it for me without laughing too hard or too long) and I went on to chopping the chilis – which I added to the pot along with the two cans of tomatoes, the soaked beans and the oregano.  The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oregano.  I just put a pile into my palm and rubbed.  Now it looked like this.

Then I added 10 cups of water. . .

set the pot on a low simmer, partially covered it with the lid (leaving a gap for steam to release) and let it cook for 3-4 hours, stirring it every so often.  I like to make sure my beans are really cooked through and soft so they can be digested easily (don’t ask why – isn’t it obvious?) so I cooked it longer than the 3 hours suggested in the recipe.  It was looking good by the time I started the next step.

Next I cut up my butternut squash.  Luckily you can now buy butternut squash that has already been cut and peeled in the grocery stores – which is what allows me to do a recipe like this because cutting and peeling a whole butternut squash is just hard to do.  If anyone ever figures out an easy way to peel an uncooked butternut squash PLEASE let me know how you did it.

I cubed the butternut squash into half inch cubes – or as close to that as I could get – so they would cook fairly quickly.  I added them to the pot as well as my 1/2 cup of bulgher.

If you don’t know what bulghur is, there is a description on the front of the box in the picture above.  Basically it is a quick cooking form of cracked wheat.  Arrowhead soaks and bakes their wheat, other companies steam it.  What you really need to be aware of is that it is wheat and if you are on a gluten free diet you will want to substitute something else for it.  The purpose of the bulghur is to add thickness to the chili – and just this one half cup makes a real difference.  I am not familiar with what is okay and not okay in a gluten free diet, but what you want to look for in making the substitution is something that will bulk up and provide that thickness to your chili.

Here is the example.  Here is what your chili looks like right after I add the squash and the bulghur to the pot.

Here it is after I have cooked it for another 30 minutes – long enough for the squash to get tender and the bulghur to cook.

You can see that it is much thicker.

You can serve it as is . . .

or top it with some shredded monteray jack cheese, like we did . . . .

or add sour cream, or chopped red onion, or jalapeno’s like the recipe suggests.

Okay, let me tell you that this chili was much hotter than I expected and was a little tough to eat for the boys.  Vash could not finish his – even with the cheese, bread and some milk.  Markus ate all of his but had a piece of pizza after.  Jesse ate all of his chili and all that was left in Vash’s bowl and did not even need the bread.  Shocked his brothers – and me!!  Chip, of course, loved it.  He was walking into the kitchen all day just from the smell coming out of the pot, lingering over it and hugging me.  He loves it when I cook.

No one missed the meat in this recipe – or even noticed it!!  Overall, I think this is a really good vegetarian chili recipe – but be prepared – no one would describe it as mild.

This is also a recipe that I could have made with the kids.  The garlic and the squash were easy enough to chop for kids and there really was not much else to do other than adding the ingredients to the pot and stirring occasionally.

I hope you like it.  Stay tuned for next week’s further adventures with black beans.  😀  Have a great weekend all.

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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3 Responses to Food on Friday – Black Bean Chili

  1. pentalia says:

    Ooooo… I love the idea of cubed squash in the chili! Will try that.

    • Shelly R. says:

      I was going to add swiss chard too but Chip used it in a stir-fry without consulting with me. He also used half of the monteray jack cheese and it was touch and go if I was going to have enough. Sigh. The squash was a great addition because it toned down some of the heat.

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