When the crisp air of fall comes there’s nothing better than something hearty, healthy and warm to eat. For me, Chili goes hand in hand with thick scarves, plaid, flannel, down comforters and crackling fires. Chili can be enjoyed equally without meat or tofu. Beans are high in protein and you can get bold flavor from other ingredients. You don’t even need to use unique peppers to achieve a boost of flavor. In fact these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket or farmers market without any trouble at all. I hope you’re a fan of garlic, because this too, is a key ingredient which imparts a nice kick without adding heat. Use the freshest, most seasonal vegetables – combined with a few spices and a touch of lime to achieve a delicious and perfectly rounded flavor. I used cinnamon for the first time in chili and I have to say it’s my new (not so secret anymore) favorite chili ingredient.
I thought long and hard about the types of beans to use, but of course you can use any of your favorites. I went for darker, more robust beans: pinto, black and kidney beans. And lastly, top your chili off with pickled jalapenos, grated cheese and fresh cilantro. And this is where you customize to suit your desired “heat level” tastes.
For the Corn muffins, I prefer using a mini muffin tin, without the cups. If you use the paper cups you won’t achieve the nice golden outer layer, which in my humble opinion, is crucial for corn bread. If you prefer squares you can also bake this in a larger tin, adjust the cooking time by two fold.
I’ve made this recipe big enough for a group. If you don’t have a party, it’s also nice to have a big pot you can have on hand for the week. Especially when you don’t want to think about cooking after a long day.
Serves about 15
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, (1 ½ cups) chopped
3 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, seeded, chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1-teaspoon sea salt
1/4-teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
3 cups water
¼ cup limejuice, juice of 2 limes
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
1.In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, carrots, garlic and salt and sauté about 10 minutes. Add the spices, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and oregano and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Then add the canned tomatoes and stir, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the beans and the water and bring to a simmer, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Stir in the lime juice and add salt if needed. Sprinkle each serving with grated cheese, pickled jalapenos and cilantro.
Corn Bread Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup frozen corn, thawed
2 large eggs
8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick) melted and cooled slightly
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease mini muffin tin with olive oil or butter. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined.
2. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and sugar until mixed thoroughly. Add corn kernels
3. Using rubber spatula, make a well in center of dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine. Add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are wet. Do not over mix.
4. Using a spoon or 1oz. ice cream scoop, spoon batter into muffin tins and bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean about 10-12 minutes. Remove the muffins and cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes. Enjoy with your Chili!