Texas Black Bean Chili

Here in Chicago, we had been enjoying a mild winter up until this week. But the Arctic blast that has settled over the city is making us forget all about those warm temperatures and sunny days.

At least cold weather means it’s time for chili!

Our crock pot has been working overtime this month, with nearly four out of five meals being slow-cooked. It’s not only convenient — everything seems to be busier right now — but the enticing aroma wafting through the house all day makes the frigid weather easier to tolerate.

This time I decided to try something a little different. Texas black bean chili is similar to my standard chili recipe, but with a few twists. Besides using black beans instead of kidney beans, of course.

For this recipe, I substituted my barbeque dry rub for the standard chili powder/cumin flavoring. The barbeque dry rub contains a wide variety of different spices, but no cumin or chili powder. So the chili ends up tasting radically different, both sweeter and spicier.

If you have store-bought barbeque rub or dried barbeque seasoning, that works fine, too.

Texas black bean chili is also mas caliente than standard chili because of the addition of canned diced chile peppers. You can spice it up even more by including the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno, if you want. But be careful, once you add the heat, you can’t take it out. Another option would be to just let people add their own hot sauce if they prefer flaming hot chili.

Hope you’re staying warm where you are!

Texas Black Bean Chili

1 medium white onion, diced

1 green pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced

2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, diced

1 small can diced green chiles

2 cans black beans, drained

1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes

2 TBS EVOO

1 lb ground turkey (or ground beef)

2 TBS Barbeque Dry Rub

1/2 cup water

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 12-ounce can spicy V-8

1. Put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add oil. When smoking, add half of the onions. Saute until soft, about five minutes, then add the turkey and cook until brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add barbeque dry rub and water and cook an additional minute.

2. In crock pot, combine beans, the other half of the diced onion, green pepper, jalapeno and chiles. Add the turkey and stir together. Add the juice from the whole peeled tomatoes, then hand crush the tomatoes into the pot. This is important to get the right texture for the tomatoes. Pour in spicy V-8 and stir.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring once or twice. When fully cooked, adjust the flavor by seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

I usually serve my chili with oyster crackers, shredded Mexican cheese, cooked macaroni noodles, diced onions and fat free sour cream, but you can just use whatever condiments you like best.

What sort of meals do you like to make when the temperatures start to fall? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog.

Football Chili

The weather turned sharply cooler in Chicago this week, and that made me think of one thing.

Football.

And that made me think of another thing.

Chili.

Football Chili

Football Chili

To me, chili and football go hand-in-hand. Whether you prefer Saturday’s college games, or Sunday’s pro spectacles, or both, having a pot of chili brewing in the crock pot makes your football experience complete. It’s hot, it’s spicy, it’s filling, and you can return to the pot for refills all day long.

You can tell a lot about somebody by the way they make their chili. In high school, the family of a friend of mine owned a meat packing company. They used beef tenderloin in their chili. I’ve seen downtown chefs make minimalist chili with crystal clear tomato consumee and perfectly shaped diced vegetables. That ain’t right, either.

I was recently in Cincinnati and they put spaghetti in their chili. Wait, what?!

Self-Serve Chili Bar

Self-Serve Chili Bar

Professionally and personally, I’ve made dozens of different kinds of chili – white chili and green chili; black beans, red beans or white beans; five alarm chili (super hot) to old lady chili (spiceless). But for football chili, I always go back to the same basic recipe: Red beans, ground meat and vegetables in a spicy tomato-based sauce.

I love to let people personalize their chili by choosing their own favorites from an array of toppings. I usually offer sour cream, shredded cheese, macaroni, scallions, diced white onion, and at least two kinds of hot sauce.

A bowl of chili is great by itself, but it’s even better with a slice of homemade jalapeno cornbread. That alone almost makes a Chicago winter worthwhile.

Jalapeno Cornbread

Jalapeno Cornbread

Cornbread is a quick bread, meaning it’s leavened with baking power instead of yeast and you don’t have to knead it. Even if you never baked before, it’s almost foolproof and absolutely delicious. Serve it right out of the oven with a little butter softened to room temperature. Yum.

So here’s the recipe for my standard football chili and jalapeno cornbread. I hope it makes you feel as warm on the inside as it does me.

Football Chili

2  15 oz cans cans dark red kidney beans

14 oz can diced tomatoes

13-1/2 oz can of Mexican diced tomatoes w/ chiles

2 cups spicy V-8

1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef, or beef and pork mixture, whatever you want)

1 TBS cumin

1/2 TBS chili powder

1 medium white onion, diced

1 green pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced

2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

TBS EVOO

S&P to taste

Heat cast iron pan then add EVOO. When smoking, add ½ the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add the ground meat and cook until browned, about another 10 minutes (If using ground beef, pork or a combination, you’ll want to drain the fat at this point). Stir in cumin and chili powder and cook an additional 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.

Drain beans and add to crock pot, along with remaining onion, green pepper, jalapeno, garlic, diced tomatoes and tomatoes w/ chiles. Add the cooked meat, then cover all with spicy V-8. Stir it all together, then cook on the low setting for 4-7 hours. Season with S&P to taste just before service.

If you don’t have a crock pot, stop reading this and immediately go get one. They are a critical piece of autumn and winter cooking equipment. But seriously, if you don’t have one, you can make this recipe on the stovetop. Just cook it over a low flame for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Jalapeno Cornbread

1 cup All Purpose Flour

2 TBS sugar

TBS baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup vegetable oil

3-4 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, diced

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease your cast iron skillet — I use pan spray — and throw it in the oven.

1. While the oven is warming, combine milk, eggs and oil in a bowl. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal. Slowly stir liquid mixture into powder mixture just until batter is wet. Fold in jalapenos, then use potholders to remove skillet from oven and pour batter into skillet.

2. Cook for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

This recipe can also be made in a 9”x9” baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

A note on jalapenos: These green Mexican chile peppers are only hot if you leave the ribs and seeds in. Once they are removed, jalapenos are not much hotter than a green bell pepper, but add a nice zesty flavor to whatever you add them to. They are also rich in Vitamin C, among other nutrients. You will, however, want to wash your hands after handling jalapenos to avoid getting burning eyes or other areas.

So this weekend, set up a little self-service chili bar, stock plenty of ice cold beer and invite a few friends over and you’ve got yourself a party. Go Irish! Go Bears!

Do you have any special recipes you make for football  weekends? What kind of chili do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.