Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

It felt like real fall this weekend. The kind of fall I had growing up in a small town in the interior. It was slightly chilly and windy, but now and then rays of sun broke through the gray skies. Leaves crunched under your feet. There were cookies and cups of tea with friends. Sweaters I’d packed away in the spring came out of their hiding places. 

But sure enough, Monday morning I woke up in the dark, rain hammering the windows.  I wanted nothing more than to burrow deeper under the covers, and to stay that way all day. But alas, I am a grown up. I have responsibilities (ugh). Chin up. Buck up. Don’t forget your umbrella. 

Knowing you are coming home to this dinner makes a cold, wet commute a bit more bearable. It is hearty enough for a cozy Sunday dinner, but using canned beans makes it a cinch to throw together on a busy weeknight as well. 

 And with the chipotle and cayenne peppers, it packs quite a punch in the spice department. If you feel the sniffles coming on, this might just do the trick. Sweet potatoes and beans are quickly becoming a favorite combination of mine. I hope you like them too.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
As always I am a chicken when it comes to spiciness, this was enough to warm me up and clear my sinuses too. If you like more heat, add another chipotle pepper or up the cayenne to ¼ tsp. 


Olive oil
1 Medium onion, diced
3 Cloves garlic
2 Carrots, diced into rounds
1 Red bell pepper, diced
2 Chipotle peppers in Adobo, chopped to smithereens or crushed with a spoon
2 Tsp.  ground cumin
1 Tsp. chili powder
1 Tsp. paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1-2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (800 ml) whole tomatoes and their juice
2 Cobs fresh corn, removed from cob or 1 cup frozen corn (I used a combination)
2 cans (540 ml) black beans
2 Tbsp. liquid honey

Toppings (optional)

Cilantro, roughly chopped
Lime Wedges
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese

1. Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, drizzled with olive oil (go around the pan twice). When pan is hot add the onions and garlic and saute.

2. When the onions begin to turn translucent, reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrots, peppers, chipotle peppers and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cook for a couple of minutes; it should begin to smell quite aromatic. Then add the sweet potatoes and let everything cook for a few minutes more. 

3. Add the tomatoes, corn and 1 cup of stock to the pot. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula as you stir.

4. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the broth has reduced.

5. When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, add the black beans. Be sure to drain them in a colander and rinse with a bit of cool water before dumping them into the pot.

6. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if needed. Drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of honey, just to counter act the spice and add some sweetness.  At this point I added ½ cup more broth. You can add more broth if you like or leave it as is. It depends entirely on how soupy you like your chili.

7. Once the beans have heated through you can serve up your chili. Top individual bowls with whichever toppings you prefer and enjoy. I think Cilantro, lime, and sour cream are a must, while The Boy loves avocado and melted cheese.  

This recipe made 2 big dinners for two of us, with leftovers for lunches. In fact, I’ve put a couple of containers in the freezer for quick workday lunches down the road. 

Future Maia loves when past Maia looks out for her like that.

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