Feasting at Home : October 2011

October 13, 2011

Black Bean Chili with Cheddar Scallion Corn Muffins

Chili is much improved by having had a day to contemplate its fate.

 John Steele Gordon

The weather has suddenly turned cold in the Northwest.

For the last few days I haven't been able to get warm. We turned the heat on and I am bundled in sweaters, and still, I feel cold. The usual remedy for this, taking a bath, is not an option, because Brian is remodeling our bathroom, and the tub is sitting in the hall.

It's going to be a long winter.

In pursuit of heat, I decide to make chili.
A friend of mine introduced me to this wonderful company, Rancho Gordo, that sells heirloom beans and also great mexican spices, chilies and herbs.

In my mind, good chili begins with creating depth. This is the foundation which is achieved through patience. Allowing onions and garlic to cook down until tender and brown, and then building upon this by adding layers of flavor. Options for creating depth include: soy sauce, beef stock, prunes or prune juice, tomato paste, mushrooms. Believe it or not, a few squares of dark good quality chocolate can add depth as well. You need to create depth to support the heat. To me, there is nothing more disappointing that eating something that is super spicy and hot, but lacks real depth and flavor.

Chorizo gives this chili a nice smokey depth. If you would like to make yours vegetarian, try soy chorizo, or a meat substitute that perhaps has a hint of smokiness.

There are so many opinions on what makes good chili, and so many varieties out there. There are some that believe that real chili doesn't contain beans at all.

This version is heavy on the beans and vegetables and light on the meat. I know many people prefer it the other way around, so this may not be for everyone.

If you have the time to use dry beans, this will give your chili a more toothsome texture. Make sure to soak them over night first. Canned beans will work perfectly fine as well

For heat, I added 1/2 a dried ancho chili, crumbled. 
For heat lovers, of course you could always add more.

To add a little interest, try adding a cinnamon stick to the pot as well. Cinnamon is another warming spice.
This is the chili on the day it was made.
The next day, it thickened up and the flavors had a chance to meld.
It was even better.

I loved the sweetness of these corn muffins paired with the chili.


Eat these warm right out of the oven.... or make them the day before, 
reheating them in the oven before serving. It is impossible to eat just one. Just try!

This was a very quick and easy recipe, mostly right off the Albers Corn Meal box, with the addition of smoked gouda and scallions.


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Chorizo Corn Chili with Ancho and Chocolate

makes one very large crock of soup- serves 8-10

2 C diced onion
7 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 fresh corn on cob
2 fresh tomatoes diced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 1/2 lbs fresh chorizo (or soy chorizo), crumbled, browned, drained.
1 can black beans- ( or if using dry ...1 1/2 Cups cooked black beans)
1 can pinto beans ( or if using dry.... 1 1/2 Cups cooked pinto beans)

1 T cumin
1 T coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
pepper, to taste
1 dried ancho chile, crumbled
4 squares dark chocolate
1 cinnamon stick
1 T honey
1 t mexican oregano
32 oz carton beef or vege stock
1 6oz can tomato paste
1-2 T soy sauce ( start with one, taste, add more if  you think)
splash balsamic

In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, saute onion on med high until tender and lightly browned about 5 min. Add garlic, turn down heat to med. Add carrots, celery. Cook for 5 more minutes then add corn and bell pepper. Saute a few mins more until mixture looks tender, lightly browned. Be patient. Don’t hurry this. This will deepen the flavors. At this point, you could add a splash of dark beer if you happen to have one open and near you. If not, just skip this, it will still turn out good. Add browned chorizo. Stir. Add stock, tomatoes, dried ancho chili, spices, honey, chocolate, 1 T soy sauce ( you can add more later but for now just add 1) and tomato paste. stir gently until mixture starts to simmer. turn heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 30 mins. Uncover, add a tiny splash of balsamic and taste for salt. You can add salt ....or if you feel like it needs more depth, add a little more soy sauce. Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro....or not, up to you :)

Cheddar scallion corn muffins

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2/3 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C half and half
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/3 canola oil
3 T melted butter
4 scallions chopped fine
1 cup grated or small diced gouda or cheddar

350 Oven

combine dry ingredients in large bowl
combine wet ingredients in smaller bowl
add wet to dry and stir til just mixed.
add scallions and cheese
pour into greased muffin tins to 2/3 full.
bake 18-20 min until golden and inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
if you have a convection oven...use it ( turn it down to 325)...muffins will puff up even higher and have a gorgeous color.

makes 16 muffins. Best served warm... and you will want to eat more than one.