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Friday, January 23, 2015

Basic Chili, With Endless Variations

Apparently, there is much debate surrounding the words chili and chile. In case you didn't know, allow me to point you to just a few articles to fill you in.

Rattlesnake, Calypso, and Yellow-Eyed Beans soaked and ready to go in chili.
Done with your research? Good. Here at Bazaar Spices, we'll stick with Webster's and call our spicy peppers "chili," and we'll also call the dish often consumed at Super Bowl parties across the country "chili."

There, isn't that easy?

Here's a basic chili recipe featuring Bazaar Spices' Dark Chili Powder Blend, a fairly mild mix of Ancho, cumin, garlic, onion, and other secret spices. This hearty and warming chili, blasphemous to Texas Chili though it is, is packed with flavor. It's loaded with beans (Calypso, Rattlesnake, and Yellow-Eyed), some vegetables to keep you balanced, and plenty of chili powder and spices to give it a punch. If you like meat, feel free to add some with the onions - ground beef or turkey would be delicious. Have fun experimenting (especially with the beans!) and whip up a big ol' pot of chili this weekend. Your cohorts will thank you.

Basic Chili
Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup dried Calypso beans (available at Bazaar Spices)
1/2 cup dried Rattlesnake beans (available at Bazaar Spices)
1/2 cup dried Yellow-Eyed beans
2 to 3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dark Chili Powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Hatch Extra Hot Powder (if you want some spice!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and add more from there)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or beer
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 sweet potato or 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
Sour cream, shredded cheese, and/or cilantro, for serving

Put all of the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Cover the bowl with plastic or a towel and let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat, warm the oil and then sauté the onion, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, Dark Chili Powder, cumin, Hatch powder if using, dried oregano, and salt. Stir and cook for a few minutes more, taking care not to burn the spices.

Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth or beer, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, then add the tomatoes and drained beans. Pour in enough water to almost cover the beans, give everything a good stir, then bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat so the mixture is simmering, and cook for about 1 hour.

After about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, the beans should be cooked through but still have a tiny bite. Stir in the cubed sweet potatoes or carrots and cook, partially covered, for to 30 to 40 minutes more, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. When finished, the chili will be fairly thick, the beans soft, and the sweet potatoes or carrots cooked through. Add more water if you would like a thinner chili, then taste and adjust for seasonings. Just before you turn off the heat, stir in the Smoked Spanish Paprika and the vinegar. (The late addition of smoked paprika adds a lovely meatiness and depth, while the vinegar brightens up the flavors).

Serve topped with sour cream, cheese, and/or cilantro.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This post is part of our series on chilies. For others in the series check out:
A Guide to Chilies: Heat Things Up This Winter
Basic Chili, With Endless Variations


Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. She also writes for the Jewish Food Experience 

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