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Warm Up with a Chili Cook-Off

Healthy Chili Choices for the Family

1501_WhatsCooking_1Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Heat 2 tablespoons of high-heat vegetable oil (grapeseed oil is recommended, but olive oil is the most common) in a heavy-bottom Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-in chunks. Sauté potatoes until they begin to brown and soften. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Next, add 4 minced cloves of garlic and stir for an additional minute. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon coriander, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the sweet potatoes and toast for 1 minute. Slowly pour in 2 cups of vegetable stock, scraping up the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Add 1 large can (28-oz) of diced tomatoes, 2 cans (15-oz) drained and rinsed black beans, and 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup. Bring to a boil; lower heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and the chili has thickened. Serve with your favorite fixins. Serves 6. Ready in 45 minutes.

White Bean and Chicken Chili

Sprinkle kosher salt over 3 medium chicken breasts (about 1¼ lbs total). Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of high-heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottom Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sear each side until it browns, then transfer to a plate. You do not have to cook the chicken completely through at this point. Add an additional tablespoon of high-heat vegetable oil and add 1 diced onion. Sauté until it softens and browns, season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of coriander, and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes over the onions, and toast for 1 or 2 minutes. Next, add 1 small can (4-oz) chopped green chiles, 2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup water, 2 cans (15-oz) cannellini beans and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and bring it to a boil. In a small bowl, mash together another small can of green chiles and a can of cannellini beans with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Return the chicken to the pot, add the mash, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the chili has thickened – about 15 minutes. Using tongs, remove chicken to a clean plate and shred using 2 forks, then return to the chili. Add your favorite fixins. Serves 4. Ready in 1 hour.

Family-Friendly Beef and Bean Chili

Heat 2 tablespoons of high-heat vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 medium diced yellow onions, 2 diced poblano peppers, and 1 diced red bell pepper, sauté for
3 to 5 minutes until softened. Over the onions and peppers, add ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, 6 small cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried epazote (optional) and toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 pounds of lean ground beef and brown until cooked through. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and then add 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 can (28-oz) fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, along with 1 cup of beef broth. Add 4 cans (15-oz) drained and rinsed beans (red kidney, black, great northern, or cannellini). Bring to a boil for a minute; reduce heat and cover for 25 minutes – or until thickened. Season with kosher salt and pepper if desired. Top with your favorite fixins. Serves 8Ready in 1 hour.


And Don’t Forget the Fixins’!

When it comes to chili, we all know the saying holds true: It’s what’s inside that counts! That said, what goes on top is pretty darned important, too. And something else we all know? Offering kids choices at mealtime can make or break the menu. Here are some ideas for your next at-home fixins bar:

• Sour Cream
• Tortilla strips or chips
• Lime wedges
• Avacado chunks
• Cilantro
• Green onions
• Monterey or pepper jack cheese
• Jalapeño slices
• Cornbread
• Crushed red pepper flakes

Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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